Ranking the 25 Players Who New England Patriots Fans Hate Most
This is it. Our greatest enemies, assembled into one comprehensive list.
Ranked in order, these are our most antagonistic rivals, our most repulsive foes, our most hostile adversaries.
These are the personalities, egos, whiners, tweeters, complainers, trash-talkers and competitors who fill us with rage and fury.
These are the men who make our blood boil.
These are the 25 players who New England Patriots fans hate most.
No. 25: Mark Sanchez
What is it about Mark Sanchez that we hate?
Is it his pretty-boy image? His questionable skill set? His undeserved fame?
Is it because he plays for the Jets?
Is it because he's the physical embodiment of Rex Ryan's philosophy?
Maybe it's all of the above, or maybe it's none of the above.
Sanchez literally has a certain "Je ne sais quoi" about him. We don't know why, but the guy makes our skin crawl. Just look at that photo!
When he waltzes on to the field, Patriot Nation goes into a collective rage. When he talks, it's like a pin being stuck in our ears. When he loses, it's like a warm ray of sunshine washing over us.
The hatred isn't totally logical, but it's enough for Sanchez to break the seal at No. 25.
No. 24: Charles Woodson
Daniel / Getty
The 2001 AFC divisional playoff game between the Raiders and Patriots took place in New England during a snowstorm. It was one of the greatest football games ever played.
Here's a quick recap:
Halftime: Raiders up, 7-0.
7:52 left in the fourth quarter: Tom Brady runs in a touchdown.
Raiders up, 13-10.
2:00 left in the fourth quarter: Brady takes the snap, he's sacked by Raiders' cornerback Charles Woodson. Brady fumbles the ball, it's recovered by the Raiders.
Brady walks off the field, believing the game is over. The referees overturn the fumble, illustrating the fact that Brady's arm was moving forward.
The Patriots get the ball back. Brady gets the down. The Patriots go on to win. The game is forever immortalized as "The Tuck Rule Game," in reference to the rule which overturned the key fumble.
The 2001 Patriots then went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI.
Flash forward to the 2010 season.
"I think we had that game stolen from us. There's no guarantee that we'd have gone on to win that Super Bowl, but, you know, I think there's an opportunity that was stolen...It wasn't the game that dictated it, it was somebody's interpretation that determined that game, determined that outcome."
The Tuck Rule Game is still a sore subject for everyone involved, even the fans.
Nevertheless, the fact remains: The call was made and the Patriots won. It's over.
Charles Woodson is one of the best cornerbacks of all time. He's a dynamic athlete and a true professional. So, why stoop this low? For him to say these things (on the eve of a Super Bowl that he's competing in) tarnishes his image in the minds of Patriots fans.
Yes, we love the Patriots, but we also love football and we want to appreciate Woodson's remarkable talent.
But after those juvenile comments, he landed himself at No. 24 on this list.
No. 23: Darrelle Revis
Shamus / Getty
A few months ago, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis appeared on ESPN alongside Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski. They were asked to do a "word association game," whereby the host offers a name and the players say the first word that pops into their mind.
It was Revis' turn. The name was: "Bill Belichick." Revis responded: "Jerk."
When given a chance to pour some water on the fire, Revis opted to fan the flames:
"When you say certain comments about the Jets, some stuff is disrespectful...It's OK to have a rivalry. It's OK to compete. But when it gets personal, you're getting disrespectful. I didn’t start this battle. The smart remarks sometimes he says are ignorant. It’s ignorant to this organization...They told me to sum it up in one word. I gave my honest opinion. That's just how I felt and that's how I feel. I feel people let him slide when he says his smart remarks and certain things."
Revis is one of the most skilled players in the league, but he's overshadowing his skill with his mouth. Why is he doing this to himself? He's too talented to be defined by this dramatic garbage.
No. 22: Antonio Cromartie
Mulholland / US Presswire
After calling Tom Brady an "a------," Jets' cornerback Antonio Cromartie had some more thoughts about New England's quarterback:
"That's what I think about him. I don't really give a damn about him. I don't have to play against him. I play against the receivers...I've said what I had to say. My opinion is never going to change about Brady. At the end of the day, it's going to be what it's going to be. I hate him, he hates me, he hates the Jets, who cares?...It's ongoing. It's been since 2006...As long as I'm in the NFL and as long as he's in the NFL there's going to be that hatred."
Now, take a look at how Tom Brady responded to Cromartie's comments and Revis' comments:
"But he's a good player. Revis is a great player. They have a great secondary. They're one of the best defenses we've faced. We spend a lot of time preparing for them, and what they're capable of doing over there. To shut down the Colts' offense like they did is pretty impressive, because we know how good that offense is. We're going to be ready to play."
See the difference?
No. 21: Plaxico Burress
Wait a second.
And he caught two touchdowns in the infamous Steelers-Patriots game from 2004, which snapped New England's 21-game winning streak?
And he caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII, which ended the Patriots' perfect season?
And he's wearing a Philadelphia hat in this picture?
So, basically, you're telling me he was born to be on this list.
No. 20: Ray Lewis
Squire / Getty
Things I hate about Ray Lewis:
1. That ridiculous dance he does during his introduction.
2. His never-ending speeches and philosophies about "being a man."
3. He seems genuinely insane.
4. He screams when there's no reason to scream.
5. I feel like he's going to step out of the television and punch me.
6. He actually looks like a raven.
Things I love about Ray Lewis:
1. He's an incredible football player.
2. His passion for the game is unmatched by anyone else in the league.
3. He never takes a day off.
4. He's a leader.
5. He's a true professional.
6. He respects Tom Brady.
No. 19: Ray Rice
2009 wild card game. Ravens-Patriots. Gillette Stadium.
On Baltimore's first snap of the game, the unthinkable happened. Running back Ray Rice ran for an 83-yard touchdown.
In just a few seconds of the first quarter, our entire season was lost.
"The Run" ranks as one of the most devastating moments in the history of the Patriots. It was only one play, but the scar will never fully heal and it's enough to land Ray Rice at No. 19 on the list.
No. 18: Ed Reed
There's a few guys on this list who are here, in part, because Patriots fans are forced to acknowledge their undeniable talent. Makes us hate them even more.
Ray Lewis is one of those guys. Darrelle Revis is one of those guys.
No. 10, No. 5 and No. 2 on this list are also those guys, but I won't spoil the surprise.
Ravens safety Ed Reed certainly qualifies as one of those guys. He's a living legend who's still playing at a very high level. He's a future Hall of Famer, without question.
Still, though, we hate him.
He's our sworn enemy and he's a clear and present danger to our success. But at the same time, we marvel at his abilities, we respect him and we love watching him play.
It's this strange cocktail of emotions which landed him at No. 18 on the list.
No. 17: Bart Scott
Photo: US Presswire
Was Jets' linebacker Bart Scott threatening Wes Welker? You make the call:
"His days in a uniform will be numbered. Put it like that."
I can't tell, but it sounds fishy.
It wasn't the first time that Scott got trigger-happy at the mouth.
Right after the Jets eliminated the Patriots from the 2010 playoffs, Scott added this gem:
"Felt great. Poetic justice...We were pissed off...We take a lot of slack. People gave us no chance...All we hear is about their defense. They can't stop a nosebleed."
Did I mention he also played for the Ravens? This guy really wanted to be No. 17 on the list.
No. 16: Ryan Clark
Tribble / AP
After the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, Steelers safety Ryan Clark tweeted:
"0-2 post spy gate! Just saying!! Can't spell ELIte w/o Eli!! Night my friends!"
No. 15: James Harrison
Shamus / Getty
Deja vu! Another Steeler, another tweet!
After the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, Steelers linebacker James Harrison tweeted:
"Told you, cheaters never win!!!!!!!!!"
These are professionals, right?
No. 14: Terrell Suggs
Terrell / AP
Terrell Suggs. Oh, Terrell Suggs. You knew you were headed for this list.
I'll keep this one short and sweet with some of his thoughts on Tom Brady:
"He's got the tuck rule incident and you got the videotaping of other teams' practices. It's like, 'Oh, OK, what's going on here?'...Man, this guy's got the world. He's winning Super Bowls and dating supermodels. It don't get much better than that...rules made for him. He gets to tell the referee when to throw the flag."
Nicely put, Mr. Suggs. Keepin' it classy.
No. 13: Brandon Jacobs
Laham / Getty
After winning a Super Bowl, most players are excited because they finally achieved their dreams. They're proud of their teammates.
When they talk about the opposing team, it's customary to say something like, "They played hard, give them credit," or something polite like that.
"We decapitated them. They can't wear that crown no more, baby."
Nicely done, Mr. Jacobs! You are a gentleman, sir!
No. 12: Mercury Morris
Mercury Morris was a member of the 1972 Dolphins. That team, of course, completed a perfect season.
But when it came to the 2007 Patriots, Morris actively rooted against them. To quote the man about his thoughts on New England:
"They had already tapped themselves into a position they had never been in...You don't get to [claim] undefeated until the last game. Undefeated is not [relevant] unless it's February something and you've won that last game...They front-loaded history...I was sparring against them because I was being a reflection of what I was getting. I was getting this smart-a** attitude...It doesn't mean anything if you lose that last game. Which is what they did."
No. 11: Adam Vinatieri
Robbins / Getty
The 2001 AFC divisional game between the Raiders and Patriots (aka "The Tuck Rule Game") had one of the most exciting climaxes in NFL history.
New England's kicker, Adam Vinatieri, nailed a field goal through through a snowstorm to send the game into overtime. Greatest field goal in the history of football? Certainly gets my vote.
Vinatieri hit another to win the game, setting the Patriots on a postseason course towards their first ring.
Throughout Vinatieri's time with the Patriots (1996-2005), the Colts were a constant rival. Fans of each team were firmly convinced that they had the better quarterback. The rivalry was mutually respectful, but bitter nonetheless.
It was virtually unthinkable to envision Vinatieri in a Colts jersey, but that's exactly what happened.
After winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots, Vinatieri became a free agent and replaced Mike Vanderjagt as the Colts' kicker. Adding insult to injury, Vinatieri won his fourth ring with Indianapolis.
For many Patriots fans, this continues to be an unforgivable turn of allegiance.
Can you imagine if a key member of the Boston Celtics went to the Miami Heat? Fortunately, that would never happen, but the metaphor still illustrates how painful Vinatieri's flip-flop was.
Seriously, the Celtics-Heat thing would never happen, right?
No. 10: Peyton Manning
Rogash / Getty
Cracking the top 10 seal is Tom Brady's arch rival: Peyton Manning.
It would take a full slide to list all of Manning's achievements. Suffice to say: He's an incredible champion with a legacy that will never die. He's awesome.
Patriots fans openly accept Manning's genius. And, truth be told, we love the Brady-Manning rivalry. We're proud to be a part of it, and I'm sure Colts fans (and now Broncos fans) feel the same way.
The problem is this: Patriots fans are tired of arguing that Tom Brady is better. From our perspective, the numbers speak for themselves: Manning has one Super Bowl ring and four MVP awards, Brady has three Super Bowl rings and two MVP awards. The edge goes to the guy with three rings.
However, Manning has a legion of fans who refuse to budge. I find myself in conversations with these fans every single day. We all respect each other, but our disagreements are venomous.
This is where the real rivalry is.
Yeah, Brady and Manning duke-it-out on the field every once in a while, but the fans duke-it-out for 365 days a year.
That's what makes this one of the most intense rivalries in the history of football.
No. 9: John Harbaugh
Brashear / Getty
I know, I know, this is a list for players and John Harbaugh is a coach. But I couldn't help it. Harbaugh needed to be No. 9.
Nothing irritates Patriots fans more than people bringing up SpyGate. It's a sensitive subject. Furthermore, it's an old topic that's been talked to death.
But still, one way or another, it comes up.
Sure, every once in a while, some anti-Patriots fans or a few immature players will stoop that low, but it's another thing for an NFL head coach to do it.
Speaking on Baltimore's 98 Rock radio, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said this:
"What happens, even the thing in New England, no matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they got asterisks now. It's been stained...To me, it's never worth it. You have to figure out ways to use the rules to your advantage; you have to figure out ways to make the most of everything. We have new work rules here as far as what we can do and what we can't do with our players, and we're going to make the most of it. What we're finding is, 'Man, maybe we can do some things even better than we did before, because these rules make us focus more on some things that we didn't focus on before.' You just have to make them work for you. That's what success is in the world. You have to find a way to do things better than somebody else. But if you're cheating, in the end, you're going to get discredited. It's not worth it."
As if we needed another reason to hate the Ravens.
No. 8: Rex Ryan
We made coaches fair-game with John Harbaugh, so you knew this guy was coming.
How does one select an ugly quote from Rex Ryan? How does one select a beautiful rose from a luscious rose garden?
Here's an oldie, but a goodie:
"I came here to win. As much as I respect and admire Bill Belichick, I came here to kick his a--, and that's the truth. That's just the way it is."
Here's a fun one:
"I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings."
Occasionally, Ryan does have nice things to say about opposing quarterbacks. He complimented Peyton Manning, but he also managed to use the compliment as a way to swipe at Tom Brady:
"Nobody studies like [Manning]. I know Brady thinks he does and all that stuff. I think there's probably a little more help from Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning."
Wonderful, Rex, just wonderful!
Wasn't there some anti-Big Blue trash-talking before the Giants-Jets game at the tail end of last season? How did that go, Rex?
"Sure there's a lot of talk back and forth, most of it driven by me. But you know what, I'll stand by everything I've ever said. I didn't come here to be anybody’s little brother. I came here to win...And to take over not just this city, even though it's the city to take over, but also this league. I haven't accomplished that yet. Saturday, I think, will go a long way [toward] doing that."
Here's some more good stuff:
"Certainly we were the best team the last two years. We made the playoffs...To say a team is better than you that never made the playoffs is ridiculous. Clearly we were the better team my first two years here. We get to prove it on Saturday who the best team is this year. Quite honestly, both of us are having disappointing years...Whoever [wins] this game is clearly the best team in New York."
One more, just for good measure:
"I never came here to be little brother to anyone. So, it's on...There’s no way I’m going to be second fiddle. If we were playing the New York Yankees, I don't want to be second fiddle to them."
This Giants-Jets game proved to be a most significant game, as did Ryan's taunts.
Prior to the game, the Jets covered-up some of the Giants' Super Bowl logos and trophies.
This disrespectful behavior lit a fuse under the Giants and sparked them into another gear. They smacked-down the Jets, then used that momentum to hurl themselves deep into the playoffs.
The Giants were so motivated, in fact, that they made it all the way to Super Bowl XLVI.
Thanks for that, Rex.
No. 7: Osi Umenyiora
Medina / US Presswire
Prior to Super Bowl XLII, Tom Brady was asked about the notion that New England would only score 17 points. Brady said this:
"We're only gonna score 17 points?...I know they have confidence. They should have confidence. They're the NFC champs. They're very talented, and, we don't make predictions, we just let our play do the talking. Learned that lesson early in my career...we're focused on going out there and trying to do our very best."
There's nothing controversial about that statement. What irritates Patriots fans is the extent to which the statement got mangled and how the misinterpretation motivated the Giants.
Discussing Brady's statement, Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora had this to say:
"I remember the arrogance of the whole way he scoffed. I remember that making us particularly angry...We just knew then that we were gonna take his head off. We just knew that right then. I mean, come on, man. There's levels of arrogance, you understand what I mean? In the interview, like psshh, 'We're only gonna score 17 points?'"
Here's the most irritating element about this whole thing: Plaxico Burress, who was on the Giants at the time, was the one who made the prediction that the Patriots would only score 17 points.
So, let me get this straight: The Giants got mad at Brady for scoffing at a disrespectful comment made by the Giants? Does that make sense?
How was Brady supposed to respond? Perhaps he should've said, "Yeah, Plaxico is right, we're a terrible offensive team and I'm a terrible quarterback." Would that have made the Giants happy?
Burress' prediction was an insult to the Patriots. Brady was caught off-guard. He responded the way any nice guy would react after being told that he sucks. He laughed uncomfortably to cover the awkward shock of the insult.
It's amazing how this infamous "scoff" continues to get blown out of proportion by Patriots-haters all over the country. People bring it up all the time. It's the most misinterpreted scoff in history.
But, clearly, this whole thing worked in the Giants' favor. They succeeding in hyping themselves to victory by manufacturing drama out of thin air. That's class, all the way.
Anyway, I digress.
Welcome to the list, Osi. Your irrational comments about "the scoff," coupled with your ridiculous beef with Matt Light, has landed you at No. 7.
No. 6: Justin Tuck
Clary / Getty
With two sacks in Super Bowl XLII and another two sacks Super Bowl XLVI, Giants defensive end Justin Tuck has forever linked his legacy with the image of Tom Brady on his back.
In discussing Tom Brady's "scoff" and Super Bowl XLII, Tuck had this to say:
"I'm in a room with [several defensive players] and we kinda see this pretty boy chuckle, like, 'We're only gonna score 17 points!' And it just seems like the whole room turned red. Like everybody was quiet. Literally fist-clenching, teeth. If we could have went and played right then, we would have went and played that second."
This faux motivation was probably enough to land Tuck in the Hall of Fame one day.
All this, because of a scoff?
No. 5: Michael Strahan
Michael Strahan was a phenomenal football player. His devotion and commitment to the game remains pure and true, even years after his retirement. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, all the way.
But still, the guy represents everything that went wrong for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Even the plays that had nothing to do with Strahan, somehow, seemed to have Strahan's fingerprints on it.
Strahan's career is best summed-up with something he said during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII, which can be heard in the 2007 Giants episode of "America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions."
The Patriots had the lead, 14-10, with 2:42 left. Encouraging his teammates on the sidelines, Strahan looked in their eyes and told them:
"17-14 is the final, OK? 17-14, fellas. One touchdown, we are world champions. Believe it and it will happen. 17-14's the final, let's go."
That was Michael Strahan. Great player, awesome competitor and the pure embodiment of everything that destroyed the Patriots' perfect season.
As a football lover, I can't talk trash on Strahan. I really respect the guy. But when I think about the events of that fateful day, I can't help but see Strahan's grin.
That grin is the stuff of nightmares.
No. 4: Joe Flacco
Truth be told, any quarterback for the Ravens is likely to give us fits, but there's something particularly obtrusive about Joe Flacco's personality.
Flacco walks and talks like a champion, but he's never competed in the Super Bowl. And despite his confident strut, he's always desperately trying to prove something in a very childish way.
Last April, Flacco reflected on the extent of his own talent:
"I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon. That's not really too tough of a question."
That statement, right there, says it all.
There's a difference between self-confidence and self-delusion, but Flacco mixes the two concepts into one big psychological mess. He embodies this messiness on the field and he makes it worse when he verbalizes these notions to the media.
Being the right quarterback for your team is what's important. Being your team's missing ingredient is what counts. Believing you have the tools to succeed is what matters. Convincing yourself that you're better than Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady is just misguided.
Here's another odd statement from Flacco. This one came during a press conference after Baltimore's loss in the 2011 AFC Championship. His statement is in response to a question about whether or not he proved something with his performance:
"I don't care. I mean, look at the film. You know, you look at the film, you see how I play. I pretty much play the same way every week. So, if you think I played better this week than other weeks, I think you're wrong. This is the way I play every week, and I really don't care."
Does this guy sound confident or defensive? Does he sound strong or childish? Does he sound like the best quarterback in the National Football League, or like a quarterback who doesn't have a grip on reality?
It's bad enough that Flacco plays for our arch rivals, but he makes it even worse with his dismissive personality and his perplexing statements. He's like Bill Belichick, but weirder, meaner, less brilliant and without the Super Bowl rings.
Like modern Samurai, Patriots fans bow in respect to our opponents before we duel to the death. But it's literally impossible to bow to Joe Flacco. Can't do it. You can't respect this guy. Can't even summon a courtesy bow for this one.
Everything about him, from his black tights to his freaky mustache, makes our skin crawl.
No. 3: David Tyree
Kostroun / AP
Just look at that photo. Do I really need to write anything else?
During the 2007 season, Giants' wide receiver David Tyree had four receptions for 35 yards. In the Giants' postseason game against the Packers, Tyree had a single catch for four yards.
That puts his 2007 total at 39 yards with no touchdowns.
Will someone please explain how this man caught a touchdown and a miraculous 32-yard pass on his helmet in the Super Bowl?
That's a trick question, because no one will ever be able to explain it.
Really, though, no explanation is necessary. The damage is done. The infamous "helmet catch" is the single worst moment in the history of the Patriots' franchise.
The mystery of it all (coupled with that photo) is enough to land David Tyree at No. 3 on this list.
No. 2: Eli Manning
Parkhurst / US Presswire
Giants fans may be shocked to hear this, but Patriots fans admire Eli Manning.
We admire his cold-blooded response to pressure, his determination, his unrelenting nature on the field, his laser-sharp precision, his warrior mentality, his instinct and his guts.
However, having said all that, we still feel "something" towards Eli Manning. It isn't "hate," but it's something profound.
This man orchestrated the two worst nights in the history of our team. So, yeah, we're pissed.
But at the same time, Manning orchestrated those nights in such masterful ways and without any trash talking. Because of that, we have to tip our hats to him.
Yeah, he's No. 2 on this list, but it's not because we hate him.
Truth is, he broke our hearts. That's why he's here.
He's still a future Hall of Famer, all the way.
No. 1: Bernard Pollard
Bello / Getty
The 2011 AFC Championship was an instant classic which could easily qualify as one of the 50 greatest football games ever played.
It was a vicious battle, fought by future Hall of Famers but ultimately decided by two very unlikely guys: Sterling Moore and Billy Cundiff.
And yet, in the midst of all that drama, it was Ravens safety Bernard Pollard's takedown of Rob Gronkowski which ranks as the most infamous moment of the game.
Because of that incident, Gronkowski was rendered totally ineffective during Super Bowl XLVI, which is arguably the biggest reason for New England's loss.
That incident, by itself, would be enough to put Pollard on this list. But he sky-rocketed through the ranks for the very simple reason that he's a repeat offender.
Pollard was responsible for the infamous hit on Tom Brady in 2008. It cost Brady the entire season.
There's more. In 2009, Pollard was involved with the hit which derailed Wes Welker's knee and cost him the rest of the season. That's two of our most beloved players, taken out by the same dude.
And then Gronkowski. That's three.
This hat trick was destined to land Pollard on the list. But ultimately, it was his comments after the 2011 AFC Championship which cemented his ownership the No. 1 spot. Pollard was quoted as saying:
"My opinion? I really hope the Giants...I just hope they just put a thrashing on the Patriots. I really do."
When asked about his reputation as "the Patriots killer," Pollard responded:
"Oh man, that is fine and dandy."
No question about it, Bernard Pollard wins the top spot on this list. Fortunately for Patriots fans, it's probably the only thing he'll ever win.