Quarterbacks' Attractiveness Examined in New Book, 'This Is Your Brain on Sports'

The book asks if quarterbacks are really the most attractive men on the field.

ByABC News
February 4, 2016, 12:26 PM

— -- When Super Bowl 50 kicks off Sunday in California, all eyes will be on the competing teams’ quarterbacks: Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers.

Quarterbacks like Manning, Newton and the New England PatriotsTom Brady are the face of the NFL and often seen as the most attractive, and powerful, players on the field.

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“It’s Tom Brady at the highest level but it’s also the good-looking high school kid who is dating the cheerleader,” Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated’s executive editor, told ABC News.

Wertheim joined with Sam Sommers, a professor of psychology at Tufts University, to examine why quarterbacks are seen as the most attractive players on the football field.

The pair used a photo experiment to answer the question in their new book, “This Is Your Brain on Sports.”

“We took media photos of all the quarterbacks and had a random sample of people who weren’t big football fans look at them,” Wertheim said.

The pair had the sample group judge the quarterbacks’ attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10. They then repeated the same experiment using photos of defensive backs and wide receivers.

Wertheim and Sommers also ran the same experiment using photos of college football players.

The results, for many football fans, may sound surprising.

“The quarterbacks didn’t come out on top,” Sommers said. “If anything, they came out at the bottom.”

Sommers and Wertheim concluded that quarterbacks benefit from what is called the “halo effect.” The quarterback’s perceived power, leadership and success on the field amplifies their attractiveness.