It's simply unreasonable to ask a sports fan to put their emotions aside and be purely logical. That's not the nature of competition. It's not the nature of professional sports. And we all know that "fan" is short for "fanatic."
We are just begging for an excuse to bring out the pitchforks against our most hated athletes. Maybe they throw a superstar against the boards or destroy a quarterback's knee—but it can take far less than that kind of violence to draw our collective ire.
Our fickle nature cuts both ways. An athlete can transform from villain to hero, or vice versa, in a moment's notice. Some embrace the role, but many try to combat the image with the most effective villain remedy—success.
In other cases, the narrative is completely flipped on its head. Personal adjustments and/or a change in circumstances can transform a universally derided pariah into a sympathetic character—resulting in a drastic shift in public opinion.
It's a fine line between hero and villain— a line that isn't fixed in stone. Something as simple as the passage of time is all it takes for certain athletes to become something more than comment-troll fodder. And there are few things the public loves more than a genuine story of redemption.
There are some people who will write an athlete, or anyone else, off forever for a single offense. But most of us are ready and willing to reevaluate an opinion if and when conditions improve. Here are 10 athletes for which conditions have definitely improved.