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Fresh Meat: 10 Young Athletes We Know We’re Going to Hate

Ben SteigerwaltCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2017

Fresh Meat: 10 Young Athletes We Know We’re Going to Hate

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    Bryce Harper, sans make-upGreg Fiume/Getty Images

    First impressions are a big deal in life. As they say, you only get one.

    Many of us get those first impressions from highlight clips on SportsCenter. A running back breaks off a jaw-dropping run. An NBA-caliber shooting guard gets a steal, runs the break, and finishes with something out of a dunk contest.

    On the other hand, sometimes the first times we see a player on SportsCenter, it’s for entirely the wrong reasons. Think LeGarrette Blount.

    Generally speaking, there are some guidelines for our expectations from athletes. There’s a pretty wide threshold for how much slack we’ll cut an athlete beyond them.

    For starters, no whining. We hate whiners, especially ones who make millions of dollars entertaining us.

    Secondly, a certain degree of mental and physical toughness is needed. Don’t show weakness.

    Third, we realize the media over-hypes certain guys. We get that. But don’t do it to yourself. Stay quiet and outside the spotlight as much as your can (just to show us that you’re not self-promoting or arrogant) and you’ll probably get a pass.

    Lastly, legal trouble isn’t exactly endearing. You know, if you hadn’t guessed that.

    Following those simple guidelines should keep you in our good graces. At the very least, we’ll feel neutral about you, perhaps even referring to you as, “Oh, that guy.”

    Failure to do so gets you on the following list, 10 young guys we just know we’re going to hate.

     

     

    If you like the article, follow me on Twitter (@SteigerVault) or on my Facebook site for links to my column posts as well as my reactions to sports headlines.

10. Clint Bowyer, NASCAR

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    Clint Bowyer prepares to whine into a microphone.Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I am not remotely a NASCAR fan.

    So chances are, if I’ve heard of you, it’s either because you win a lot, or because you’ve made the news for another reason altogether.

    Clint Bowyer falls into the latter category.

    Recently, Bowyer won a race in New Hampshire, moving him into second place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings. This was followed by a 150-point penalty for using a car that didn’t meet NASCAR’s design tolerance specifications.

    Instead of just taking his medicine and moving on, Bowyer tried to throw fellow drivers Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin under the bus, insinuating that they were guilty of the same infraction.

    The difference? Johnson and Hamlin weren’t fined by NASCAR.

    So actually, Clint, it’s not really the same at all.

    For those of us who don’t enjoy auto racing as a “sport” or think of drivers as “athletes,” this sort of whining isn’t exactly endearing. If his car is out of compliance, I can completely understand why that wouldn’t be his fault. But other drivers/teams also aren’t at fault for his team’s error.

     

9. Tim Tebow, NFL

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    Tim Tebow prepares a teammate for baptism.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Tim Tebow falls into the unfortunate category of athletes that the media have caused us to hate. He seems like he’s probably a good guy. He seems charismatic enough to win over teammates and engaging enough to win over media members.

    All of the gushing over his good qualities are what have turned many fans against Tebow.

    First of all, he hasn’t actually done anything as an NFL player. Most fans feel that the Denver Broncos reached (significantly) in order to draft him. As he currently sits third on their depth chart, the reasons for this are still unclear.

    The other thing many fans find distasteful is that media coverage of Tebow is filled with shining reviews of his character and convictions. Almost every time he’s mentioned, a subjective opinion is offered. I’m a grown adult, you can provide me with facts and I’ll be glad to form my own opinions.

    Tebow is basically Brett Favre without the gray hairs or career accomplishments. Not a week goes by without mention of him, and most of it is unnecessarily fluffy.

     

8. DeMarcus Cousins, NBA

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    DeMarcus Cousins having character issuesChris Chambers/Getty Images

    Doesn’t it seem like we’re already conditioned to dislike DeMarcus Cousins?

    He jumped ship from Kentucky after his first collegiate season. His team was bounced early from the NCAA Tournament after being touted as one of the two most talented in the field of 64.

    Oh, yeah, and he has “character issues.”

    A brief rant: how does one contract “character issues,” and why do they seem to afflict only African-American athletes?

    Using a brief Google search, I was unable to locate any specifics that would lead one to conclude that Cousins is a character liability, other than that he lacks maturity.

    Really, a 19-year-old man lacks maturity?

    Hold the phone and stop the presses. Next, you’ll tell me that young millionaires in the NBA have trouble managing money, and aren‘t monogamous.

    I realize it’s strange to spend this section defending someone on a list of people we’re supposed to hate, but I think it’s unfair that we’ve essentially written off this kid as the next Ron Artest.

    Just saying.

     

7. Ricky Rubio, NBA

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    Ricky Rubio on the fence about playing in the NBAJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Ricky Rubio has a lot going against him in terms of American NBA fans.

    For starters, he’s European. Not exactly instant NBA popularity (see Milicic, Darko). That he plays for Spain’s national team (perhaps the United States’ biggest rival in international basketball) also counts against him.

    But the big issue is that he was drafted fifth in the 2009 NBA Draft and has yet to play in the NBA. In fact, he may not be eligible to play until after this season.

    A significant portion of the blame for Rubio’s draft position and NBA absence has been rightfully laid at the feet of the man drafting him, Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn. It is a tad idiotic to draft three point guards in the first round of the NBA draft to begin with. To also draft one who may not be interested in playing in Minnesota without checking into that first may be equally dumb.

    But that doesn’t excuse Rubio from no-showing. It would seem safe to assume that he entered the NBA Draft with the intent of playing in the NBA.

    The two or three video clips we’ve seen of Rubio seem to indicate that he’s a talented player. I think I speak for us all when I say we’d rather see him every night in the NBA than on You Tube.

     

6. Jimmy Clausen, NFL

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    Jimmy Clausen was "this close" to being drafted in the first roundEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Those of us who don’t like Notre Dame, by extension find it extremely difficult to root for players that went to school there. This certainly applies to Jimmy Clausen, as far as I’m concerned.

    And look, even if he doesn’t succeed in the NFL, at least he has a pickle fortune to fall back on, right?

    (Note: Claussen pickles were created by Hans Claus in the 1800s and Jimmy Clausen has no known link to them. If you read this far into the article, you knew a bad joke was coming.)

    For me, Clausen epitomizes the idea behind this article. There’s nothing specific, but something about him says, “Dislike me.” He looks like someone who would whine and complain a lot. There’s a little bit of Jay Cutler’s frat boy petulance there.

    To announce that he was going to play at Notre Dame, Clausen rode in a stretch Hummer limo. Everyone knows that if you’re going to be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame, you get a free ride in the Pope-mobile.

     

5. David Price/Evan Longoria, MLB

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    Price and Longoria discussing how awful their fans are.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Many who follow baseball think that the Tampa Bay Rays have some of the worst fans in the MLB, if not all of sports. That doesn’t mean we want to hear it from their players.

    Though they’re slightly older than others appearing on this list, recent events justify the inclusion of teammates David Price and Evan Longoria.

    Price posted the following to Twitter (his handle is @DAVIDprice14): “Had a chance to clinch a postseason spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands....embarrassing.”

    This echoed Longoria’s post-game comments regarding being embarrassed about poor attendance for Rays games.

    It’s one thing for the owner to criticize the city he’s leaving after deciding to relocate a franchise. It’s another thing entirely for the players on his team to do so. I’m not trying to dehumanize the players themselves, but if we use the analogy that the team is like a store that a consumer chooses to frequent, then the situation with Longoria and Price is a little like your soap and shampoo giving you hell for not buying them on this particular visit.

    Perhaps the players should focus on winning a championship for themselves, rather than for the fans. 

    Since Tampa's NFL franchise (by far the more successful league in terms of attendance) is routinely blacked out for home games, it seems ridiculous to assume that fans would be showing up for baseball, regardless of the time of year. 

    It's like the Tampa Bay Lightning anticipating more than 15 fans to show up.

     

4. Dez Bryant, NFL

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    Dez Bryant in a cast after the beating he took from the mediaTom Pennington/Getty Images

    Unlike the aforementioned Cousins, Dez Bryant was actually found to have done something wrong prior to catching a case of “character issues.” Bryant was ruled ineligible for part of the 2009 football season due to lying to the NCAA about his relationship with Deion Sanders.

    Terrible, terrible stuff. Unbelievable that a teenager would tell a lie.

    Aside from this, Bryant has also caught some flack for refusing to carry pads as part of a hazing ritual. He has since dropped more than $50,000 on a dinner for teammates as a consequence.

    It is still unclear as to why Roy Williams would expect anyone to carry his pads.

    Bryant doesn’t seem to be an inherently bad guy.

    I’ve written ad nauseam in defense of Bryant for the hazing incident, and with regards to the interview question he was asked about his mother being a prostitute. Though the character tag has been attached to him with at least some justification, it seems unfair to just write him off as being another diva wide receiver when he hasn’t actually done anything “divaesque” just yet.

    That said, he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, which doesn’t exactly help his likeability cause among fans.

     

3. Darrelle Revis, NFL

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    Darelle Revis fleeing his current contractChris McGrath/Getty Images

    For whatever reason, sports fans always seem to side with management in any sort of athlete contract disputes. Darrelle Revis was no exception.

    While top-tier cornerbacks are among the most well-compensated players in the NFL, Revis wasn’t exactly falling below the poverty line with a six-year, $30 million contract. That this money was part of his rookie deal and NFL rookies are widely viewed as being ridiculously overpaid in contrast to other sports (especially given the rate at which even first-round picks turn into busts), only compounded fans ganging up on Revis.

    That said, it’s also understandable that someone considered among the top two at his position (along with Nnamdi Asomugha) in the NFL would want to be compensated as such. It certainly didn’t help the New York Jets that their coach acknowledged Revis’ talent level publicly.

    At any rate, Revis’ holdout did nothing to captivate the hearts of Jets fans (although he did hold them captive) and the suggestion that he may repeat his holdout in a few years has to be concerning.

    Such is life on Revis Island.

     

2. Bryce Harper, MLB

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    In between punk rock concerts, Bryce Harper takes batting practiceGreg Fiume/Getty Images

    A strong argument could be made for Bryce Harper to be considered the “douchiest-looking” athlete on this list. He would have the narrow edge over Clausen, in my opinion.

    Add in his ridiculous warpaint eye black (which appears to have gone the way of the buffalo), and Harper could contend for Douche of the Year. Thankfully, I was unable to find a picture of Harper in full make-up that I had the rights to use as part of this article.

    The eye black looks something like what you’d imagine if a cat grew a stereotypical Italian moustache. It is also possible that Harper was trying to trace tears down his face with a hand full of eye black. The quantity of tears he would have to cry is unimaginable. Then again, the kind of self-loathing one would have to have to generate that many tears would also lead to things like growing a "fauxhawk.”

    Let’s just say I wouldn’t rule it out.

    Terrible appearance aside, the only other thing we know about Harper is that he appears to be a capable power hitter and a promising prospect for the Washington Nationals.

    Since, at this point, we’re just judging the book by his cover, it would seem that there’s ample time and opportunity for Harper to rehab his image.

    For his sake, let’s hope he takes that opportunity.

     

1. LeGarrette Blount, NFL

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    You made the big screen, LeGarrette!Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    LeGarrette Blount threw one of the more famous punches in recent sports memory (at least since Ron Artest during the Malice at the Palace) and has suffered quite a bit of scrutiny as a result. He learned his lesson from his college suspension, and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans.

    During Titans training camp, Blount punched a teammate in his facemask. The lesson, of course, was to only hit someone with his helmet on.

    Blount is currently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is far from the first example of an athlete with violent tendencies who has difficulty controlling his temper. However, it is difficult to see him overcoming his temper control issues without therapy of some sort.

    So I’m not exactly writing Blount off as a productive NFL player or member of society. He has already scored his first touchdown as a pro in his first appearance.

    Heck, he could even be a viable fantasy option down the road.

    Of everyone, Blount will have the most difficulty of anyone in terms of rehabbing his image. The fact that he is African-American, and now has words like “violent” and “volatile” tied to his name basically gives him the sort of uphill climb that Michael Vick is currently dealing with in terms of mainstream white sports fans.

    I wish him luck in that regard.

     

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