Everybody loves a superhero. So much so, Hollywood is sure to put out about five superhero movies every summer. After all, who doesn't love to see someone running around in spandex saving the world? But where would the superhero be without the villain? What would Batman do without the Joker? What good would Dr Xavier's school for the gifted be if there was no Magnito recruiting for the other side? And who would Mighty Mouse fight if Oil Can Harry wasn't around? We love the heroes, but we also love to hate the villains.
Yet their are no real superheros in the world, no matter what those dressed up ubergeeks over at Comic-con say. So for many people the roles of hero and villain are played out in the sports world. Nowhere was this more on display than the recent NBA championship. Dirk Nowitzki was the hero who stuck with his team through thick and thin and finally had the chance to throw the monkey off his back and triumph. LeBron James, on the other hand, was the one who backed down from the challenge of trying to win in Cleveland to choose the easier road of sidekick in Miami only to see himself become the villain instead, thus fulfilling the words of Harvey Dent. I believe it was the great Chinese philosopher Confucius who said, "With great power comes great responsibility." Or maybe it was Spiderman's uncle who said it. I sometimes get the two confused.
As I watched the finals, I started to wonder who in the NFL would fill the role of villain. Who's the NFL equivalent of LeBron? And yes, I realize there are plenty of people who still like LeBron and see nothing wrong with what he did. I also realize he's not truly a villain. It's just an analogy so don't take it too literally. So with that caveat out of the way, let's look at the five most hated players in the NFL today. By the way, this list only includes players who are hated for what they've done, not simply for who they are. So it won't have players like Tony Romo and Tom Bradywho are hated because they're the QB of a despised team and they're married to models. I may secretly want them to suffer a Joe Theismann like injury, but I won't put them on this list.
5) T Ocho
One has left a trail of disgruntled fan bases in his wake while the other has a stupid name. Not since Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol has someone had a worse name. But at least Prince did it to get out of a contract. Ochocinco did it because he actually thought it sounded cool. Both have been loud and outspoken, and if that wasn't bad enough, they briefly had a talk show together that was so snooze inducing it made the XFL look like a ratings juggernaut. You know a show is bad if it stuggles to beat out CNBC's Squawk Box in the ratings (and if you've never heard of Squawk Box, do yourself a favor and don't even bother googling it). Now their show's been canceled and more then likely they'll both be looking for new homes in the NFL whenever the lockout ends. But they're not without options. The Redskinsare always on the lookout for over the hill veterans.
4) Randy Moss
In his prime, Randy Moss was one of the most dominating receivers to ever play the game. That was, of course, when he actually decided to play. The problem was Moss seemed to think running routes were entirely up to his discretion. Some players get a bad reputation for occasionally taking a play off. Moss took entire games off. He redefined what it means to stop trying. You know things are bad when a team trades a third round pick to get you and then decides to cut you four games later, and then the only team that wants you is the Titans. And to think it all began when he said he felt unappreciated in New England. Too bad for Moss the NFL doesn't have a mulligan.
3) Cortland Finnegan
He's not well known by the casual football fan, but those who do know about him despise him. He's said he aspires to be thought of as the dirtiest player in the NFL and he's well on his way. Playing rough and doling out the cheap shots are just par for the course when it comes to Finnegan, but it all came to a head when the Titans took on the Texans last season. Finnegan got into it with Texans WR Andre Johnson and proceeded to have the ever loving crap beat out of him, while all across the NFL players thought, "How unfortunate, I wanted to be the one to do that."
2) Ben Roethlisberger
Here's what you don't want to do if you're hoping to create a good image and build up some endorsement deals. Get a group of friends together, make matching T-shirts that say Benapalooza, go to a bar, pick up on some college girls, follow one of them into the bathroom, and then have your friend stand guard outside of the bathroom keeping anyone from entering. Roethlisberger was not particularly well liked before this since many thought he was just a product of the Steelerssystem and therefore overrated, but having a couple of sexual assault charges filed against him only solidified people's negative oppinion of him. Now he just needs to end his career by retiring and unretiring several times and he'll begin to approach Brett "open fly" Favre territory.
1) Albert Haynesworth
Not only is he probably the worst free agent signing in the history of the NFL, he's probably the most vilified because of it. Strangely, he predicted this would happen when the Redskins began making the transition to a 3-4 defense last year. He knew nose tackles don't put up huge numbers so he said this would cause fans to say he wasn't earning his money. So instead he decided it was better to not play at all and not earn his money that way. Just as Moss was setting the standard for not trying, Haynesworth managed to set the bar at an all new low.
Honorable mention: Brett Favre and Jay Cutler