ONLY FOUR PHILLY athletes have enough recognition among sports fans nationally to even rate a "Q" score, an industry standard over the last 40 years for measuring the familiarity and appeal of performers.

Four. That seems low for a market with four major pro teams. "If you stacked up all the cities with sports teams in every sports, I would say it's below average," said Henry Schafer, the executive VP of Marketing Evaluations Inc., admitting that there's no specific data that compares the athletes as a whole from city to city.

But it might explain why times are, on the whole, so lean. There just aren't many stars. Two - Allen Iverson and Peter Forsberg - have left in the past year, leaving the Sixers and Flyers selling tickets on the optimism of the 2007 drafts and youth. In fact, in their letter to season ticketholders, the Flyers, among other things, pitched that they're going to be "the third youngest team in the NHL."

Donovan McNabb ranks eighth in the NFL among players measured with a 71 percent familiarity and a 23 Q score. Brian Westbrook, the other Eagle rated, has numbers of 53 and 14. Peyton Manning leads, at 82 and 40.

Among the general population, 46 percent know McNabb. "That's pretty good," Schafer said. The norm for a sports personality is a 39. No word of where Donovan's mom is rated.

Two Phillies are ranked in the 2007 study,

released in April. Ryan Howard is 28th among baseball players, with numbers of 43 and 16. Chase Utley is ranked 42nd, with a 41 percent familiarity and a 12 Q score. Schafer said Jimmy Rollins could join them "later this year."

"I think he's established himself as a unique personality, above and beyond his accomplishments on the field," he said, noting that Rollins' preseason comments about the Phils gained him additional attention. "Now he's got to back it up on the field, which he seems to be doing."

*

- Paul Vigna

Comments on missing ex-players at go.philly.com/raja

Join the panel? Send e-mail to vignap@phillynews.com