Passing the bucks
AP Photo

Posted Jun 3, 2008

Two former University of Tennessee quarterbacks are among the 50 highest-paid American athletes. Obviously, Peyton Manning is one. Can you identify the other?

Don't feel bad. It's a bit of a trick question. Here's a hint: The other ex-Vol QB in question makes his sensational salary by hitting baseballs, not by throwing footballs.

The player, of course, is Todd Helton, who checks in at No. 37 on a list of highest-paid American athletes compiled by Jonah Freedman and posted at, the website for Sports Illustrated magazine.

The list, the jocks' equivalent of The Fortune 500, is known as “The Fortunate 50.”

Using base salary, incentives, etc., Freedman surmises that Manning earned $17.5 million in salary and another $13 million in endorsements during the past year ... a total package of $30.5 million that ranks No. 9 among all American athletes.

Naturally, Tiger Woods tops the “Show Me The Money” list with an estimated gross income of $127,902,706. This breaks down to $22,902,706 in earnings, plus $105 million in endorsements.

Fellow golfer Phil Mickelson is a distant second at $62.4 million. The rest of the top 10 consists of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James at 3, boxer Floyd Mayweather at 4, Los Angeles Laker standout Kobe Bryant at 5, Phoenix Suns 7-footer Shaquille O'Neal at 6, New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez at 7, Boston Celtics standout Kevin Garnett at 8, Manning at 9 and Yankees star Derek Jeter at 10.

Helton, all-star first baseman for the Colorado Rockies, reportedly makes $16.6 million in salary and another $300,000 in endorsements for a total package of $16.9 million.

The richest family in American sports? Got to be the Mannings. In addition to Peyton at No. 9, little brother Eli checks in at No. 50. He has made a reported $15.45 million in salary and endorsements during the past 12 months.

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