Tim Tebow: 'Lot of crazy polls out there'

It's very hard to get Tim Tebow to brag, even when an ESPN poll names him America's most popular athlete.

An ESPN Sports Poll has the second-year sensation of the Denver Broncos topping the list of America's favorite pro athletes, topping Kobe Bryant (2 percent), Aaron Rodgers (1.9 percent), Peyton Manning (1.8 percent) and Tom Brady (1.5 percent). Tebow (3 percent) faces Brady and the New England Patriots on Saturday in the NFL playoffs.

"What's that tell me?" Tebow said Thursday. "It tells me they have a lot of crazy polls out there. I hope people see I'm real and genuine. I hope they see that I make a ton of mistakes but that I always get back up and try again.

"But I'm very blessed. I'm trying to grow my foundation and things that like really help. They give me a platform. I feel like now I can walk into any Colorado hospital and talk to these kids that I want to help."

The Tebowmania sweeping the land comes with a price, he said in an interview Thursday with ESPN.com's Rick Reilly.

"It's not always fun. I like being a normal guy. I mean, I grew up on a farm. I like to get to know people and go to dinner like anybody else. But now I'm in this bubble and it's hard. But it's way worth all the downside to have a platform to make a difference."

The other number Tebow had a hard time believing was that the Broncos are 13½-point underdogs against the Patriots.

"The cool thing about that is maybe a bunch of people will win some money betting on our side."

As for the ESPN Sports Poll, which is calculated monthly, Tebow is only the 11th athlete in 18 years to be on top. Others include Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and LeBron James.

The poll results were gathered from 1,502 interviews from a nationally representative sample of Americans ages 12 and older.

Tebow is just the sixth different athlete to finish No. 1 in the monthly rankings since 2007. The others are Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Woods, Kobe Bryant and James.

Information from ESPN.com's Rick Reilly and The Associated Press is included in this report.