Lists of the most hated people in sports are in constant supply on the web. They are broken down into every possible category, but most often separated by sport. Some lists are voted on by players, some are voted on by fans, and others are assembled by writers.
And once someone makes his way onto a list, he can expect to remain there for a couple years. Hate is a powerful emotion that tends to perpetuate itself after awhile.
Take former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, for example. It's been years since he was hated for verbally abusing quarterbacks and disrespecting his opponents on the field. Now it seems, he's just hated because everyone hates him.
But even for those who find themselves among the most hated in sports year after year, many have an equally passionate base of fans who adore them. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, and Nick Saban all come to mind. And they do have fans, I promise.
However, that's not always the case. There are a handful of people in sports that are quite simply hated. By everyone. Everywhere. No exceptions. Okay…maybe a few exceptions. But if there are any Skip Bayless fans out there, they are keeping it close to the vest.
That being said, there are a few people in sports that literally nobody likes. At least 20 of them. Literally. Nobody. Obviously that's a little mean, but it's also very true. You'll see.
And if you honestly like more than one or two of these guys, which is highly improbable, I want to hear from you.
Slimy. Feared. Cocky. Devil—seriously! Those are just a few of the words often used to describe super agent Drew Rosenhaus, perhaps the most hated man in football. Well, hated by everyone except his 170+ active clients.
The same vile qualities that make Rosenhaus repulsive to most of the population are the same qualities that make him the most successful agent in the NFL and drive clients to him in droves. Then again, most of the top agents share those traits.
So what makes Rosenhaus stand out to such a degree? His client list. Think back over the last decade to all the players whose "I love me some me" attitudes have made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Rosenhaus counts Plaxico Burress, Dez Bryant, Terrell Owens, Jeremy Shockey, LenDale White, DeSean Jackson, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Chad Johnson among his many clients.
Chances are, if you hated him, Rosenhaus represented him.
And just in case anyone had time to forget how much they hated him, Rosenhaus' interview with 60 Minutes in September 2012 was a sobering reminder. Here are a few of the lowest lowlights:
- "I really believe that the NFL would fall apart without me. That may sound cocky, that may sound arrogant, but I'm telling you the truth."
- Rosenhaus picks up the phone: "Yeah, hey, I'm…I'm with someone. Try me again. Buh bye."
- "Keep it comin', man. I love when agents talk badly about me."
- "It's kill or be killed in this business. And I intend to do the killing."
Spoken like a man with no soul. Oh Drew! Don't you ever change.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Daniel Carcillo is not unique in his distinction as a hockey goon and agitator. Where he's blazed his own trail is in his ability to rack up penalty minutes, suspensions and good ol' bad karma without adding the usual, "hated unless he's on your team" value.
His most infamous moment came during the 2011-12 season, when he was suspended seven games for boarding Edmonton's Tom Gilbert during an October game. The illegal hit did far more than lead to discipline from the NHL, it resulted in a season-ending injury for Carcillo.
As a member of the Philadelphia Flyers team that lost to his current one in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Carcillo was worthless; spending the majority of the series on the bench. Yet, he felt the need to assign blame to the Flyers' goal-tending—after he was shipped off to the Blackhawks.
None of this is surprising when it comes from a player who candidly promotes the idea that "thinking" is bad for hockey; what is surprising is that he remains employed.
There's an unofficial pact, or social contract, that exists in the alternate universe known as sports. This understanding is what allows individuals who have engaged in morally or ethically questionable—if not repugnant/treacherous—behavior to continue to thrive in their profession regardless of their malfeasance.
The downside? The goodwill that exists is tenuous at best, so the margin for error is razor-thin.
USC head coach Lane Kiffin has plowed through his young career with little regard for anything beyond his own opportunities and the possibility to achieving greatness on the field. As an assistant under former Trojans head coach Peter Carroll, Kiffin quickly garnered a reputation as rising star.
The late Al Davis made Kiffin the youngest coach in Oakland Raiders history, when he was hired at age 31 in 2007. However, the Kiffin era was a disaster and when he fired just a year later, during a press conference Davis went on a long diatribe that included calling Kiffin a "liar" and "disgrace."
While being ostracized by the eccentric Al Davis can easily be forgiven as the product of the Raiders' dysfunction, Kiffin's one-year cameo as coach—and SEC flame-thrower—of the once-proud Tennessee Volunteers affirmed his serpentine disregard for anyone not named Lane Kiffin.
Yet, he'd shown enough as a coach to take over the reins of USC's football program in 2010. When the Trojans entered the 2012 season as favorites to win it all, the school, fans and media focused less on the road that got him there and what he was on the cusp of accomplishing.
After a disastrous season, when the team finished a pitiful 7-6 amid allegations of Kiffin-instigated shenanigans, all of the curtain has been pulled away from this mountain of baggage..and his seat is predictably hot.
In the 2006 Rose Bowl, University of Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart and University of Texas quarterback Vince Young faced off in what many believe was the greatest BCS Championship game to date.
The Trojans were favored by a touchdown over the Longhorns, but in the end, Young marched his team down the field for a last-minute scoring drive that won the game by three points. The loss was only the second of Leinart's entire collegiate career.
Months later, Young and Leinart were the top two quarterbacks in the draft and were selected No. 3 and No. 10, respectively. Normally, that's where the story would truly begin, but for these two duds, it's pretty much where things ended.
Young's career with the Titans started off with promise. He played 15 games in his first two seasons, and his performance improved dramatically from one year to the next. But injuries, personal problems and conflicts with coaches compounded and he was released after the 2010 season. Young backed up the Eagles' Michael Vick in 2011 and failed to make a team in 2012.
After Leinart's rookie season with the Cardinals, he started just 17 games over the next three seasons before being released in 2011. Leinart has played the last two seasons for the Texans and the Raiders, starting just two games for each team.
Leinart and Young may not be the biggest draft busts of all time, but based on their stellar college careers, they are definitely two of the most disappointing. Which is probably why they elicit more public scorn than someone like Joey Harrington, who by virtue of being drafted by the Lions, was expected to be a massive failure.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is, in many respects, a perfect monument to the contemporary game. Regarded by many to be the most successful commissioner in league history—regardless of when he actually retires—Selig's legacy of maintaining relative peace among players, owners and fans, feels very meh at best.
In an era when the NFL and NBA have grown in popularity, finding new and innovative ways to engage fans, while promoting competitive parity—the MLB has slowly lurched forward, on the tailwind of its rich tradition rather than the progressive stewardship of Selig.
It's difficult to find passionate supporters of Selig, rather than people who simply voice respect for his tenure. He's just not likable and his list of achievements—interleague play, the Wild Card, revenue-sharing—seem outdated and obvious compared to how the other pro leagues have evolved.
On the other hand, on of the darkest periods in MLB history occurred under his watch. The PED scandals of the '90s and last decade cast a shadow over some of the best players of the era, and Selig has refused to own any of it.
And despite introducing a marginal element of parity via revenue sharing, structurally, Selig has helped perpetuate a haves-vs.-have-nots system which provides little incentive for small- and medium-market teams to build winners.
While many of the biggest spenders overpay (and price out) good free agents without producing the kind of team success that justifies the move.
Selig may be effective, but has done little to look at the big picture, or endear himself to those who love the sport.
There have been plenty of NHL players over the league's history who've been called an "agitator." Hockey is a sport that features a unique combination of on-ice skill and sheer violence—so the ability to intimidate, to knock a player off his game, is often as important as puck movement.
Retired winger Sean Avery certainly fit the description, infuriating opposing players with his antics on the ice; he play always straddled the line of legality, often crossing it. However, he brought an entirely unprecedented element to the identity, which did little to counter the inevitable problems his borderline play created for his own teams.
During his career, Avery has pissed off a diverse and broad collection of individuals and constituencies through actions both known and alleged—celebrity ex-girlfriends, police, the LGBT community, minorities, et al. And by all accounts, he wears a badge of condescension with gusto.
Players who assume similar roles—like Matt Cooke, Chris Pronger and Steve Ott—bring a passion, locker-room value and grit, that endears them to their teams despite those moments when they go too far. Call it hockey gravitas.
In 2008, then-New York Ranger Avery blew up that ideal, when he parlayed his interest in fashion into an internship at Vogue magazine. There's nothing wrong with loving fashion, but it simply adds another weird layer to the legacy of a hockey player who both embodies the tradition and culture of the sport, while also defying it.
Even when retired Giants running back Tiki Barber was putting up Pro Bowl numbers, he had an innate ability to irritate everyone around him. After 10 seasons in the NFL, all with the Giants, he decided to call it a career in 2006, despite showing no signs of decline in his game.
Barber was eager to embark on his once-promising media career and was immediately hired by NBC as a contributor to the Today Show and a correspondent for NBC Sports. In the summer of 2007, he kicked off his broadcasting career by publicly taking his former teammate Eli Manning to task for what he deemed a lack of leadership and enthusiasm.
Later that season, Barber was sent on a very lonely mission to cover the Giants' epic defeat of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Public scorn for Barber intensified in 2010 after the news that he had left his wife of 10 years, who was eight months pregnant with their twins, for a 21-year-old NBC intern.
Within months he had been fired by the network and was showered with boos during his Giants Ring of Honor ceremony that fall. When money troubles prompted Barber to attempt an NFL comeback in 2011, it was clear that he hadn't been missed in his absence.
Former teammates like Michael Strahan didn't hold back their contempt and Barber failed to find a team willing to give him a shot. Goodbye forever, Tiki.
Brooklyn Nets power forward Kris Humphries is probably pinching himself right now. Not because his life is simply too good to be true; much the contrary.
It's because he's stuck in a living nightmare orchestrated by his estranged wife, Kim Kardashian.
A former first-round pick of the Utah Jazz in 2004, Humphries has been a serviceable player, but whatever he's done, or will do, of the course of his NBA career will be swallowed by the growing, monstrous tsunami that is his failed marriage to reality show menace Kim Kardashian.
Humphries began dating Kardashian in October 2010 and their relationship quickly became the centerpiece of her reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
As you would expect, he was depicted as kind of a buffoon and the table was set for an embarrassing split that generated plenty of publicity for Kardashian, Inc. as well as fodder for the tabloids
A year later, they were married and the ceremony was aired as part of a ridiculous, overblown special on E!; just 72 days later, Kardashian filed for divorce.
While a tale like this would often create a sympathetic figure in Humphries, he looked naive, if not over-matched and wretched in his own right.
This sordid tale will define Humphries' life and overshadow his NBA career forever, so it's not surprising he was voted the most disliked NBA player in a Nielsen-E-Poll Market Research survey.
Dallas Cowboys owner and holder of many franchise job titles Jerry Jones may not even like himself at this point, even if it's just the version of himself that has turned his beloved Cowboys into a team that perpetually fails to meet expectations.
It's not like Jones started out this way—when he bought the team in 1989, he brought in his old Arkansas Razorbacks teammate Jimmy Johnson and drafted future Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and other key players who would make-up a nucleus of talent that won three Super Bowls in six years.
But, the same brash confidence and heavy-handed style that initially brought the Texas oil tycoon success, eventually chased it away. After forcing out Johnson and then Barry Switzer, Jones' Cowboys have been more of a brand than a good football team.
With his football pedigree, passion and business acumen, Jones may be respected, but outside the world of the Cowboys, he consistently draws criticism from the media and ire from fans across the country.
He projects the image of a man who longs for the old days when he could spend the franchise into a dynasty, yet refuses to concede the folly of how his control has hindered the team in the salary-cap era.
The result? He combines two attributes that as a whole are much worse than each alone—arrogance and ignorance.
It's hard to believe that just over a year ago, Lakers big man Dwight Howard was one of the most likable athletes in professional sports. In early 2012, it was clear that Howard was really struggling with his looming free agency.
He was approaching the end of his rookie contract with the Magic and was ready to move on from Orlando, but was all too cognizant of the public price LeBron James paid for his botched "decision."
Howard tried desperately to avoid looking like the villain, but failed pretty much every step of the way. He waffled back and forth between proclaiming his loyalty and insisting he wanted to stay, and feuding with coaches and demanding a trade.
After his season was cut short by a back injury in 2012, Howard decided once and for all that he would not be returning to the Magic and was traded to the Lakers—but not before the team met his personnel demands by firing their coach and general manager.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling may have finally put together a legit contender on the court, but that doesn't make him a good human being. Since acquiring the franchise in 1981, Sterling reportedly subjected players, staff—and even fans—to behavior that is unreasonable at best and cruel at worst.
Sterling has heckled and harassed his own players, asked a former coach to take the absurd cost-cutting measure of taping players himself, attempted to wriggle out of paying $1,000 to the winner of a free-throw contest, under-counted assist totals to depress the value of his own players and allegedly told a candidate for head coach he'd prefer, "...a white Southern coach coaching poor black players."
While the ugly side of Sterling is no secret, some of the accusations emerged from a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former GM and NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. And Sterling gets sued often, because his conduct and decision-making outside of the Clippers is even worse.
Sterling made his fortune in real-estate, which sounds innocent enough, but there is plenty of evidence that he is more of a slum-lord than mogul.
In December 2012, a jury awarded one of his former tenants, actress Robyn Cohen, $17.3 million after losing almost everything in a fire that destroyed her building. She won the suit (the other tenants settled with Sterling) because the smoke alarm systems were non-functional.
This is only the latest incident in a pattern of negligence, harassment and downright malfeasance in the way he operates his real estate holdings. Lawsuits filed by former employees and tenants have accused—with veracity—Sterling of sexual misconduct, housing discrimination, racism and some combination of the above.
Sterling has paid millions in court-awarded judgements and settlements due to the wretched way he lives and runs his businesses, but how much does it really cost him? He has a playoff caliber NBA franchise with one of the hottest NBA stars in Blake Griffin and plenty of money to battle the courts and accusers.
In America, there is one kind of person we despise above all others: the person who plays by a different set of rules...and often gets rewarded for it.
It's starting to seem that Manny Ramirez is officially out of baseball forever. He was one of the greatest talents of his era, but good luck finding a single person that will miss him.
Throughout most of his career, Ramirez was so lazy, combative and self-indulgent, that his behavior was eventually explained away as nothing more than "Manny being Manny."
Testing positive for PEDs? Faking an injury to get out of spring training? Being unapologetically overweight? That's just Manny being Manny! Ramirez was so wretchedly unlikable for so long, that people eventually just accepted it as an undeniable truth.
In fact, the unpleasantness of his character was so deep that his name became synonymous with being a terrible person. And that's me being nice! Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona once said, "Manny Ramirez is the worst human being I've ever met."
Hey…when you're right, you're right!
Gauging the legacy of a commissioner is a complicated issue, because in any of the major sports leagues, they're juggling competing priorities and constituencies—all toward the goal of growth and prosperity. So, when the verdict is rendered, it won't necessarily be unanimous in spirit, but begrudgingly acknowledged by the results.
When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman retires, his legacy may warm the hearts of the owners and propelled by sustainable, growing league, but it will probably take a long, long time to win over hockey fans and players (who aren't exactly endearing themselves, either.)
In 20 years, Bettman has presided over four work stoppages, financial uncertainty, and a game that is trying to evolve in a way that maintains the best elements of hockey while pushing away outmoded or self-destructive tendencies that threaten the NHL's future.
His achievements feel less than groundbreaking in face of the failures he's presided over: franchise expansions tempered by bankruptcies and uncertainty; league changes that offer excitement and parity, broken by lockouts that make us all wonder if any resolution is truly going to last.
The tally? The league is fourth in revenue among the big four (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) and trying to regain a media foothold in the United States.
In the end, the turmoil may be part of a long-game that ultimately propels the NHL to something even greater. But for hockey fans, the set-backs do the one thing that hurts us most: takes the game away.
In 2009 Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was the most coveted free agent on the market and inked a massive $100 million deal with the Redskins, $41 million of which was guaranteed. Three seasons later, he was out of the league altogether.
As it turned out, the five-game suspension Haynesworth earned for stomping on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode, which required 30 stitches, wasn't an isolated incident—it was a sign of things to come.
The honeymoon in Washington ended the moment the ink dried on his contract; Haynesworth was immediately unhappy about the team switching to a 3-4 defense under newly hired head coach Mike Shanahan.
He gave up entirely in his second season with the 'Skins, explaining to the media that although he signed a contract, he wasn't for sale.
Paying him money, Haynesworth explained, didn't entitle anyone to anything from him. Adding, "that don't mean I'm a slave or whatever." An indictment for sexual assault in April 2011 was Haynesworth's last hurrah in Washington.
He didn't last long with the Patriots after being traded that summer and finished the year with the Buccaneers. And that was that for Fat Albert. I think it's safe to say that he will be missed by literally nobody.
When a player signs as a free agent with the Yankees, he is aware that the decision is going to be met with contempt by the overwhelming majority of baseball fans.
The tradeoff for that bloated Yankee paycheck that you take a hit in the likability department outside of New York. But the adoration of passionate Yankees fans and offsets a lot of the hostility, making it a net gain for most players.
Most players not named Alex Rodriguez. He came to New York in 2004 and had three relatively harmonious, and successful seasons with the Yankees. But things started to shift in 2007. Perhaps like everyone else, Yankees fans were put off by the terms of A-Rod's contract—his 10-year deal, worth $275 million, was the richest contract in sports history.
It surpassed the previous mark of $252 million set by Alex Rodriguez with the Rangers in 2000. In the last five years, the Yankees have struggled—they've won just one World Series since 2004. Rodriguez has been implicated in steroid use, he's battled a number of injuries, and his personal life has been rife with tabloid fodder.
In 2012, he was benched for much of the playoffs, leading to speculation that he may be traded in the offseason. But he squashed speculation in typical A-Rod fashion, promising he'd be back in New York, whether anyone wants him there or not.
Including Skip Bayless on this list is a tough pill to swallow; not because he doesn't deserve it, but because this is what he wants—his name drawing in the outraged and amused. Bayless is a flamethrower who's built a career on having opinions that spark controversy and suck in web traffic.
He literally feeds off your hate. He makes sure you review the transcript and acknowledge that something he said was right, but you're too exhausted to oblige him.
As the co-host of ESPN's First Take, he's used the show as a platform to take the pulse of the nation and then embrace those sports figures and ideas that make it race. He helped transform the Tebow media frenzy of 2011 into a nauseating circus, when Bayless became is most vocal supporter—to an absurd degree.
This is what Bayless does: he sees a polarizing superstar and plants himself on whatever side is most likely to cause Stephen A. Smith to lose it. If Bayless truly believed everything he said about Tebow, he wouldn't have inflamed the critics while also turning fence-sitters against the player.
And, Bayless always manages to find himself part or partner to controversy even if he isn't the explicit perpetrator. He uses words and phrases that bait his colleagues into discussions about race that are arbitrary at best.
In short, he's the worst and the fact that no one likes him means he's doing something right.
Most everyone else on this list has been building ill will over an extended period of time, but Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez became one of the most hated people in sports in just over a year. Sanchize didn't light up the stat sheets his first two years in the league, but he did lead the Jets to two consecutive AFC Championships.
Everyone was willing to overlook his shortcomings, provided he was winning. Sanchez is no longer winning. He's had two consecutive losing seasons plagued by locker-room strife and surrounded by a media circus.
Sanchez had a particularly rough season in 2012; his on-the-field performance was often the subject of national mockery.
He's lost the support of the media, fans, and Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who was responsible for drafting Sanchez and has been one of his most ardent supporters.
It's been long, slow descent into the gutter for this kid. At this point, Sanchez's career can be summed up in two words: Butt Fumble. Dag! That's bleak.
It's been well over a year since Barry Bonds was sentenced for obstruction of justice, finally putting to rest the legal woes that had plagued him in the latter part of his career. And, believe it or not, it's been five years since he played his last game in 2007.
Bonds has the unfortunate distinction of being the face of the steroid era that many believe has forever stained the game. He was just one of a number of high-profile players implicated in the last decade, but for whatever reason, nobody's legacy has been more tarnished.
Bonds has remained relatively under the radar recently, which is most certainly by design. But if he was hoping that people would forgive and forget, he was sorely mistaken. Recently, it's become increasingly clear that it will be quite awhile before the disdain people hold for Bonds will subside.
In January 2013, the Baseball Writers' Association of America were given the option of voting in someone from the first eligible of the steroid era or voting in no one. For only the second time in 40 years, the BBWAA opted to vote in no one.
Has any athlete in the history of sports fallen farther, faster than disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong? The seven-time Tour de France winner who heroically battled cancer and came out stronger on the other side—that guy doesn't even exist anymore. Actually, he never really existed.
As it turns out, that Lance Armstrong was merely a figment of our collective imagination. The real Lance Armstrong may have beat cancer and won some races, but every ounce of his success came at the expense of anyone unfortunate enough to cross the path of a ruthless sociopath.
In January 2013, after a decade of vehement denials, Armstrong finally decided to come clean about his extensive history of doping. But is it really "coming clean" when everyone has known for months, if not years, that you're guilty? Which is exactly why the softball interview with Oprah Winfrey was not well received.
And things are going are going to get a lot worse for Armstrong before they get any better. He's already been handed a lifetime ban from the sport, it's only a matter of time before the civil lawsuits start flying, and criminal charges have not been ruled out entirely. There's no question—it sucks to be Lance Armstrong.