By Darren Rovell
It's the end of the NFL regular season, and that means it's time to find out who is among the most popular players this season. In a year where the National Football League was embroiled in its longest labor dispute ever, the popularity of this multibillion-dollar sports juggernaut has still managed to grow.
|Slideshow: Best-Selling NFL Jerseys|
An important component of football merchandising is jersey sales — which can be seen as a proxy for the most popular players in the sport. It's better than a poll because people have voted with their wallets. Each year, NFLShop.com releases the best-selling jerseys in the NFL and its list is presented here. This following represents jersey sales from April 1 to Dec. 31. The 2011 list published first on CNBC.com.
So, which NFL jerseys are this year's best sellers? Check out the slideshow to find out:
Some might be surprised that the New England Patriots QB is even in the top 5 again. After all, don't all his fans have a No. 12 jersey by now? Don't discount fans outside the Northeast that love Brady as well as those women football fans who can't get enough of the UGG endorser.
Popular for both his on-the-field play and his characteristic hairstyle, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is another perennial fan favorite. Last year's jersey sales leader continued his momentum this year, and it's easy to see why. Pittsburgh is a blue collar town, and Polamalu is a blue collar player. With Ben Roethlisberger's troubles, most new jersey sales in Pittsburgh are Polamalu's No. 43.
The former Florida quarterback emerged as a starter later in the season and developed a cult following for his untraditional style that led to victories. Tebow has fizzled into the playoffs, but the fact that there is so much buzz (both love and hate) around him got him to the No. 2 spot. In the beginning of the season, Tebow was completely outside the top 10.
A Super Bowl title gave the Green Bay Packers QB a big boost in an off-season that had a work stoppage. And Rodgers' incredible play in 2011, which should result in an MVP award, truly made him a national name. Rodgers jerseys were sold to people in all 50 states.
Click here for CNBC's complete slideshow of the Best-Selling NFL Jerseys.
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