A few weeks ago Forbes put out their list of the most disliked sports figures. The disinteresting thing about that list is that 1) It was put out by Forbes magazine and not a sports publication. 2) It was a poll of regular folks who, more times than not, simply just point to the names they recognize. And 3) The poll was put out back in January and there have been a couple of incidents that have happened since then that may change people’s opinions. The other difference between their list and ours is they covered all sports. We here at TFDS don’t care much about the other sports– we focus on the NFL.
So I decided to put some feelers out among NFL types and fans to see who they think are the most hated figures in sports. Among the responses I got a few officials but which official always seems to depend upon that person’s fan leanings. There were also members of the media and analysts but I wanted to keep this list limited to coaches, players, and front office people.
In the end, based on my findings as well as my own views, I was able to put together a fine list of schmucks. In order of the combined rankings from each of the many responses. Enjoy.
10. Adam “Pac Man” Jones
Where does one begin with this bad apple? He was drafted by the Titans in 2005 with the 6th overall pick. And after just two seasons with the team, he had worn out his welcome. Titans GM Floyd Reese was quoted as saying he had spent “countless hours” trying to set Jones straight but that Jones had been “nothing but a disaster off the field.” That conduct included ten separate indcidents in which he was questioned by police. The last being the infamous “Make it rain” incident in which he got in a fight at a Vegas strip club that ended with a shooting that left a bouncer forever paralyzed. Goodell suspended him for an entire year from the NFL. During his suspension he made many stupid public appearances and statements that led to the commissioner denying his initial application for reinstatement. He would be traded to the Cowboys soon after. Jerry Jones assigned “Pac Man” a security detail to try and make sure he stayed out of trouble. And Pac Man of course ended up punching the guard and got himself suspended for four more games. His career as a Cowboy ended shortly thereafter. He is currently in training camp with the chain gang aka the Bengals.
9. Randy Moss
This guy was trouble before he ever entered the NFL. He went to Marshall because he was kicked out of Florida State for his behavior. That’s right, he was too much of a pain in the ass to be a “Criminole”. Despite being clearly the best receiver in the 1998 draft class, no one would take a chance on him until the Vikings at pick 21. As has been the case with him everywhere he has gone, he behaved and put up good numbers his first year there. After that he was back to his old self again. His list of problems was a long one including squirting water at an official, berating a team sponsor, knocking over a traffic control officer with his car, taking plays off, admitting to smoking marijuana, heading to the lockeroom in a game with time still on the clock, and mocking Packer fans in Lambeau by pretending he was mooning them during a playoff win at Lambeau. And all of that was just in Minnesota. He took that act to Oakland after the Raiders gave up a first round pick and a starting linebacker to acquire him. A deal of which the Vikings were more than happy to accomodate. Call it surgery to remove a tumor. That cancer started to spread again in his 2nd season in Oakland when he was visibly unhappy and began taking plays off again. This prompted the Raiders to traded him to the Patriots for a 4th round pick. Not exacltly a great return on the Raiders’ investment. He had one great season in New England and an injury plagued season and is now saying he doesn’t see himself playing there after this year.
8. Jerry Jones
Mr Jones suffers from what many extremely rich and powerful owners suffer from: massive arrogance. And when he bought the Cowboys back in 1989, he made a team that had already glossed itself as “America’s Team”, even more cocky. He brought in college national champion head coach Jimmy Johnson from the University of Miami(FL) to lead his beloved Cowboys. Johnson coined the quickly-extremely-annoying phrase “How ’bout them Cowboys!” The combination of having a team with the history and fan following the Cowboys had and the hands-on, mouth flapping approach that Jerry Jones brought to the table, was a volitile mixture. Then the Cowboys started winning which only made Jones talk louder(if that was possible) and people hate him even more. He was brash, pig-headed, and arrogant and made no apologies for it. His football team in the 90’s seemed to take the same approach and had several run-ins with the law as well as drug problems to accompany their bold, loud style. Players like Leon Lett(weapons, substance abuse), Nate Newton(drugs), Michael Irvin(drugs, loudmouth), and Deion Sanders(loudmouth). In fact when you think about it, the reasons Jerry Jones was hated was nearly the exact same reason so many people vilify Al Davis. I guess that is why they are such good friends. Birds of a feather and all that.
7. JaMarcus Russell
He would be much more hated if he weren’t a Raider. There is no doubt about that. But since his transgressions just brought the Raiders down, many people just find it funny. However, anyone who so blatently abuses the NFL system of paying tons of money to unproven talent, is object for widespread scorn. He is now the posterboy for everything that is wrong with there being no rookie salary cap. He took the LSU Tigers to a win in the Sugar Bowl over Notre Dame and he turned it into an instant $39 million. He even held out well into his rookie season to make sure he got paid a few extra million. The holdout also gave him another important gift– the right to sit out even longer. He spent his entire, 3 year career overweight and doing the absolute minimum to keep his checks rolling in. He would wear swanky mink coats and sunglasses in press conferences and spend a considerable amount of time in Vegas getting wasted and sporting a gawdy piece of bling around his neck of his #2 raider jersey. He spurned the media and strutted around like he was the second coming of chubby christ all the while he had every intention of skating by until he was allowed to leave. The Raiders showed him the door this offseason and not a moment too soon. He was arrested a few weeks ago on charges of felony possession of a controlled substance. This case is hot in the press right now and the codeine syrup concoction known as “Purple drank” or “Sizzurp” is now well known(and pretty hillarious). Al Davis has filed a motion to get back $9 million from Russell and for the first time I can recall, most folks hope Al Davis wins this one.
6. Al Davis
Speak of the Devil. Yes, he is still pretty hated in the NFL and in all of sports. How ironic that he should fall just ahead of the guy that he defended so vehemently by saying “JaMarcus Russell is a great quarterback. Get over it!” in his infamous overhead projector aided rant against former head coach Lane Kiffin. While some NFL fans have cooled a little on their hatred of Mr Davis, the anger among the fans in the Raider Nation has heated up after the seven consecutive losing seasons (The great offseason not withstanding). And until Davis either hires a GM, steps down, or passes on, that hatred will likely remain. If the Raiders begin winning again, the Raider Nation will be content but those outside fans whose hatred had cooled will be back in full effect. Therefore it will all balance out and the hatred will exist one way or another. Although, I think overall he is not quite as hated as he once was.
5. Ben Roethlisberger
When “Big Ben” had his nearly fatal motorcycle accident in 2006 while popping wheelies in a parking lot, people said it was just immaturity. The accident would cause Roethlisberger to miss the first game of the season while recovering from an emergency apendectomy. But he was forgiven because he had led the Steelers to a Lombardi trophy the previous year in one of the most horribly officiated Super Bowls in history. Then a couple years later he was accused of sexual assault in Lake Tahoe. Many people saw the incident as a situation where a girl was trying to take advantage of a famous and rich football player. That same rich player can afford great lawyers and the issues eventually went away. Besides, he led the Steelers to another Super Bowl the following season so all was forgiven again. Then there is the most recent incident a few months ago in which he followed a drunk girl into the bathroom and had sex with her against her will while his bodyguards kept her friends from interrupting the dirty deed. Yet again, there were no charges filed but this time Goodell was not falling for it. He suspended Roethlisberger for up to six games. The only kind of admission you will get from Ben’s camp is that he was foolish to “put himself in that situation.” As opposed to being a sexual predator who is forcing intoxicated and impared young girls into situations they don’t want to be in. Otherwise known as “Rape”.
4. Bill Belichick
Long known for having almost no personality and being tremendously unlikeable. Then he added arrogance, lying, and cheating to that rough exterior and he had a recipe for some serious hatred. The arrogance was what started the lying and cheating it would seem. After the infamous “tuck rule” game in 2001 that handed them an undeserved victory that began the so-called “Patriot dynasty”, he thought he was untouchable. And why not? He was illegally videotaping opposing coach’s signals the entire time and it was working like gangbusters. His assistant coaches were in high demand after the Patriots’ success so it is karmic irony that it was one of those assistant coaches (Eric Mangini) that exposed the longtime “Spygate” scandal. In fact, as further proof Belichick is a fraud, his coaching tree has sprouted nothing but impotent, seedless branches since then. Rob Ryan, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Charlie Weis, and Josh McDaniels have all done nothing but run their respective programs into the ground. And you may be able to add Chiefs GM Scott Pioli to that list soon enough. I think I can speak for everyone outside of New England when I say the Giants ending the Patriots’ bid for an undefeated season a few years ago was truly one of the greatest days in sports history. 18*-1
3. Albert Haynesworth
Prior to the 2009 season, he was given the richest contract ever for a defensive player when he signed a 7 year, $100 million free agent deal with the Redskins. After the Redskins had another disappointing season, the team decided to make some major changes. The biggest change was bringing in new head coach, Mike Shanahan who is switching to a 3-4 defense. Haynesworth has played a 4-3 defensive tackle throughout his career and was not keen on switching to a 3-4 nose tackle. He has not shown up for a single mini camp practice or OTA as he pouts about the possible impending position change. Teammates and fans have grown more and more unhappy and have voiced their unhappiness publicly in recent weeks and months. Football is the ultimate team sport and Haynesworth is showing the ultimate in selfishness by not joining his teammates as they prepare to try and improve their struggling team. Word now is that he has dropped over 30 pounds. Of course it is his personal trainer who is saying this so there is some trepedation in taking it at face value. However, him losing weight makes a little sense. He figures if he loses a bunch of weight, Shanahan will put him in at defensive end. His worry was his sack and tackle numbers going down so playing defensive end in the 3-4 would remedy that. But he is still monumentally selfish in his intentions.
This isn’t the first negative press we have heard from Haynesworth either. Remember when he stomped on an opposing players face during a game? He swore afterward that he doesn’t know what came over him saying “That’s not who I am.” Sure it is a bit of a different situation. And most people forgave him afterward. But new misgivings bring back to light old ones. “Fool me once…” and all that.
2. Terrell Owens
Owens has built a strong opposition over a long period of time. And with each bridge he burns, he adds more to the already long list. He has thrown every quarterback he has ever had under the bus and demanded the ball regardless of the consequences to the team. While with the 49ers, he publicly suggested that his Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia was gay. That combined with his sideline outbursts led the team to rid themselves of him despite being a great receiver in his prime. In a messy and complicated contract dispute and separation, the 49ers were able to get some meager ompensation from the Eagles when Owens negotiated a deal with them.
The Eagles made the Super Bowl in Owens’ first year there but it was with no help from him as he was out with injury thoughout the latter part of the season and the playoffs. He would play in the Super Bowl but the Eagles would fall short of the victory. Later Terrell would publicly shame his quarterback again by saying Donovan McNabb was vomiting in the huddle on the final drive due to nervousness. Owens would follow that up by wanting to renogotiate an already lucrative contract. He threatened to hold out and made a nuscense the entire season while feuding with McNabb almost constantly in the media and on the sidelines. He was suspended the final four games of the season and his brief career as an Eagle was over.
After he was cut by the Eagles, the Cowboys signed him. He spent three seasons as a Cowboy. And as per usual, his relationship with his quarterback began to deteriorate during his 2nd season. His career in Dallas ended after he began complaining that Tony Romo was playing favoritism and forcing passes to tight end Jason Witten. Before last season he signed with the Bills to much fanfare. His numbers were not great and the Bills were even worse. He was cut after just one season. At which point he immediately blamed the quarterback play on the Bills for his low numbers. Now he is a free agent once again and fans from every team in the league are praying “For the love of God, Please don’t sign him!”
1. Mike Vick
Vick topped this list the moment he was arrested on charges surrounding illegal dog fighting. He hadn’t been too popular before that either after he showed his lack of class in flipping off the crowd while leaving a game. And while he awaited trial on dog fighting charges, he continued to show is lack of class when he said that he expected the fans to support him simply because they are Falcon fans. His continued arrogance had him at odds with his lawyers who tried to convince him to take a plea bargain and he refused. In the end, he was found guilty and convicted to a greater sentence than his cohorts because he wouldn’t plea to lesser charges. What we all discovered throughout the trial is that since the moment Vick got his first paycheck from the league in 2001, he was using his millions to run his dogfighting ring. Animal lovers hate him for torturing and killing dogs. Others hate him because they are disgusted by the way he exploited the NFL and the fans and the millions it brought him to do something so stupid and careless. And just when you thought 2 years in prison would have taught him something, he throws a public birthday party where, not surprisingly, there are people in attendance he is not allowed to associate with and there is a shooting. Hopefully soon he won’t be atop this list because he will no longer be a sports figure. He continues to prove he doesn’t deserve it.
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