Drinking the Hater-ade
by, 02-10-2012 at 01:30 AM (2101 Views)
All sports fans have a favorite team. It's who we root for year in and year out to win championships, and we're emotionally invested in everything they do. We follow even the smallest bits of news that concern our home team, reveling in the good news, devastated by the bad news. We also have favorite players. They might be members of our favorite team, but they don't have to be. Barry Sanders is my favorite football player of all-time, and he never played for my Bengals team. The reasons for liking them could be nearly anything, but once we become a fan, we usually stay a fan no matter where they go. Likewise, there are teams and players we dislike for varying reasons. So, I'm going to do something a little different. Here are my least favorite players in various sports of all-time, in no particular order.
Christian Laettner-To begin with, he plays for Duke, which automatically puts him in a hole, but it goes beyond that. In the 1992 NCAA tournament, Duke met my Kentucky Wildcats in the round of 8, with the winner going to the Final Four. Going into the game, I didn't have an opinion of Laettner at all, but once he stomped on Aminu Timberlake's chest, I found myself screaming at the TV in rage at the audacity of this guy. The fact that he then broke my (and all of Big Blue Nation's) heart with the shot that I'm forced to relive every year just cemented him as my most hated athlete of all time.
Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin-I have never liked the Dallas Cowboys, so it hurt to see them win Super Bowls in 3 out of 4 years in the early 90's. Irvin was a loud-mouthed, cocky, in your face WR who made plays, then rubbed them in my face. He drove me crazy. As for Smith, he racked up yards on top of yards behind a great offensive line, and I felt he got more credit than he deserved. Add to that fact, my favorite player was Sanders, and it didn't seem that you could like both of them. Also, you will never convince me that Smith would still be the all-time leading rusher if Sanders had kept playing.
Hines Ward-It's hard for me to narrow it down to just one member of the Steelers, as I don't really like any of them. Hines, however, personifies the team, and is the one that grates on me the most. I can't count the number of times I've seen him assault an opponent, then come up with that goofy grin on his face. He's a great player, without a doubt, but his cheap shots on opposing players, summed up by his blindside shot on Keith Rivers a few years ago, make me want to throw stuff at my television.
Greg Maddux-I actually used to be a fan of the Atlanta Braves. I wanted them to beat the Minnesota Twins in the 1991 World Series, and when they blew it, I started disliking them. Maddux wasn't on the team that year, joining in 1993. He and the rest of that pitching staff continued to lead the Braves to the playoffs every season, with Maddux as the main guy. I can't really pinpoint what I hate about him most, but the way he looked, played, and more importantly, kept taking the Braves to the playoffs, irked me beyond belief.
Jeff Gordon-Dale Earnhardt is the greatest driver in NASCAR history. When Gordon came along and started winning championships, and thus, comparisons to Earnhardt, it instantly put him on the hate list. He was given the best equipment, team, and cars that money could buy, and all the attention on a kid who my favorite driver didn't like made him easy to dislike. The fact that he hasn't, and probably won't, get to Earnhardt's 7 championship pleases me greatly.
Patrick Ewing-The Knicks are another team that I have never liked, and I love the fact that they could never get a ring during Ewing's run. My two favorite NBA players were Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller, and watching those two have some signature moments against the Knicks made me very happy. Ewing was the face of that team, and thus the primary target of my dislike.
Terrell Owens-TE-rrell not te-RELL is pretty self-explanatory. His antics have stretched across several locker rooms, with a promise to be good, followed by a great season or two, followed by an explosion. His last season was for the Bengals, and while he had a decent season stat-wise, he seemed to play half-heartedly at times, and didn't seem to care, dropping balls and displaying a nice set of alligator arms. He'll probably be a Hall of Famer, but he'd never get my vote.
Derek Jeter-The Yankees are another Major League Baseball team I hate, and Jeter is the leader. His postseason heroics made me wince, and the overdone hype made me sick. He was a really good player, but never as good as the media would like him to be, and insist that he was. My hate for Jeter has subsided some over the years, but I'll always root against him and the Yankees.
Tim Tebow-By all accounts, Tebow is a good person. It's admirable that he seems to be one of the good guys in sports. However, since his days at Florida, ESPN and other media outlets have made sure that more than 5 minutes doesn't go by without mentioning him. This season, Tebow took over as the starter of the Denver Broncos, and even though he struggled to find open WRs and completed less than half of his passes, the team won and Tebow was given, in my opinion, undue credit. He made some plays, but if you listen to the media, he played 11-on-1. The hype has made me hate a genuinely good guy.
There are definitely others that I dislike, and maybe I'll write Part II sometime. The above guys are the cream of the crop, so to speak, though. They're the guys I dislike more than any other, the guys I don't even like seeing on my TV screen, and in some cases, the guys who have haunted the teams I love. I would be much happier if these guys had found other vocations in life, so I never had to hear about them. They all have earned my scorn in one way or another, from very different fields, in very different ways. They do have one thing in common though, they were all great players that earned the right to be hated by me, but definitely adored by millions.