The 10 Most Over-Covered Athletes and Teams of All Time
Mainstream media hype is here to stay. With Twitter, the Internet in general, and 24/7 sports news, we are immersed in sports headlines like never before.
While it could be debated that no one outside of the management staff for our sports leagues and teams actually needs information at the speed of light, there is an inherent excitement for reporters in breaking the story first and fans in reading/hearing it first.
Once that hype machine gets churning, it is unstoppable.
Though it was tough to keep this list to just 10 teams and athletes, that was the route I chose. Keep in mind that over-coverage to the degree we are currently seeing is a relatively new phenomenon.
ESPNEWS launched in 1996. Broadband Internet was beginning to be more accessible, especially for people in my generation at school.
Now, we can receive updates and watch video clips virtually in real time in the palms of our hands. The teams and athletes that follow are the ones we’re tired of having appear in those updates.
But like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III, they keep pulling us back in.
10. Miami Heat
This is more a prediction for the future rather than a current target for over-coverage. We can see it beginning now with reports leaking out from the Miami Heat’s first practice.
The Heat have the potential to skyrocket into both the most hyped and most hated franchise in sports over the course of the next six years.
Their free agency coup this summer was certainly newsworthy, but that we are hearing such varied opinions about the composition of the team and the likelihood of a championship before actually seeing the Heat play a preseason game is a bit over the top.
Prepare yourself for an NBA season dominated by the Heat. By dominated, I mean you’ll wish you were hearing a little more about that Kobe Bryant guy the talking heads used to bring up.
9. Tom Brady
Tom Brady has crossed a line I’d hoped an athlete would never cross. His hair is newsworthy—and debate-worthy, if you count ESPN’s PTI.
Kill me now.
Brady is a legit celebrity. He receives more tabloid press than the other athletes on this list (with one possible exception), let alone the amount of news he generates as the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.
It is because of this that I put him on the list over Peyton Manning. Yes, that’s right—Peyton Manning didn’t make a list of over-covered athletes.
8. Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers have the second-most NBA championships of all time. They are the one team in Southern California that can draw a crowd. Their games are like Hollywood events.
They are, in short, like no other team in sports.
Thanks to Kobe Bryant and a rich history of NBA success, they also receive the most media attention of any NBA franchise, exceeding even the Boston Celtics (the only team more successful). Bryant’s ability to polarize NBA fans is unmatched.
At least, it was.
7. Dallas Cowboys
Year after year, the Dallas Cowboys dominate NFL headlines. Their fans are like cockroaches, except you can’t (legally) get rid of them and they stick around in cold weather.
This without a Super Bowl appearance for almost 15 years.
Their cheerleaders would draw more fans than most pro teams in Florida. Combined.
There is no denying that owner Jerry Jones has built a marketing juggernaut. The Cowboys are the first national franchise in what is largely a regional sport.
Like most others on this list, the Cowboys have the ability to split opinions with nationwide sports fans. There is no neutrality. In fact, for many of us, it’s difficult to like anyone from America’s Team.
6. Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez is perhaps one of the least likable people on this list. His personality is bland on his good days, and he is almost intolerable otherwise.
A-Roid has received gigantic contract after gigantic contract. Until last season, he had a reputation of shrinking to the moment in the playoffs.
Oh, and he cheated to get to where he is today. To be fair, so did just about everyone else. But it certainly doesn’t help win sports fans over to his cause.
Inexplicably, despite being basically detested by most everyone who doesn’t have a rooting interest in the New York Yankees, Rodriguez gets a ton of press about his everyday life. While you could make a case that Madonna and Kate Hudson are worth their own weight in gold in terms of fame, it seems odd that even sports media outlets would consider Rodriguez’s personal life to be newsworthy.
By the way, he’s also a heck of a baseball player.
5. Tiger Woods
I know you were waiting for this one. If this ranking were only athletes, Tiger Woods is a no-brainer to make everyone’s top three.
He’s been in the public eye since childhood. As time has passed, that has been magnified in the same way you’d say the Hubble telescope can magnify things.
After his infidelity scandal, Tiger’s every move is under intense scrutiny. There are constant debates about whether he’s lost his game. Yes, on the golf course, too.
Once considered a shoo-in to break Jack Nicklaus’ career major victories record, Tiger is now the biggest wild card in sports. He has also become one of the most interesting figures in sports, going from bland to compelling virtually overnight.
4. LeBron James
You may have heard of "The Decision." Like it or not, that has to rank among the biggest, most overblown events since the O.J. Simpson car chase and trial.
It also catapulted LeBron James from well-liked (although he certainly had his doubters and haters even before this summer) to reviled in less time than it takes Ben Roethlisberger to drop his pants.
LeBron has already put in an incredible NBA career. Having signed with teammates that are better than the Lakers' practice squad for the first time in his career, he seems poised to either tear off a championship run the likes of which we haven't seen since the mid-1990s or fail so miserably that his doubters will be buying his jersey again, only this time as a sarcastic act.
The uncertainty about LeBron's future in the league will lead to even more coverage over the coming years. He could easily be No. 1 on this list if I were writing a year from now. He gets to fourth just based on his time in Cleveland and his prospects for over-coverage.
How, you ask, can there be three more teams/players ranked ahead of LeBron James?
3. Boston Red Sox
Because we haven't even touched on baseball teams yet, that's why.
First, the Boston Red Sox's utter postseason failure was overblown in the media—and we understood. Boston is a huge sports market, and they were experiencing the sort of championship poverty that we wish upon our teams' rivals.
In the midst of this, their rivals, the New York Yankees, were well on their way to 27 championships.
Since the 2004 ALCS comeback and subsequent World Series win for the Sox, their hats are cropping up on heads outside of New England like, well, like Yankees hats. Previously considered the most dedicated fanbase in sports, Sox fans now encompass the casual baseball fan who was caught up in their story.
In case you hadn't noticed, they also spend money like the Yankees now. Aside from the fans themselves, it's a bit difficult to distinguish the contemporary Red Sox from our No. 2 team.
2. New York Yankees
Yes, even in a subjective ranking of teams that receive a sickening amount of media coverage, the Red Sox finish behind the New York Yankees.
Bill Simmons just rolled over in his bed.
Yanks fans are at least as populous as the aforementioned Cowboys. Only more cockroach-like.
The Yankees are perhaps the most storied sports franchise in American history. They have more recognizable Hall of Fame players than the rest of MLB combined, or darn close to it.
They take the media over-coverage angle to a whole other level, right down to owning their own TV channel. They sell out games for teams that otherwise can't get attendance numbers. Their rivalry with the Red Sox gets more hype than even Duke-North Carolina in men's college basketball, by far a more balanced and intense rivalry.
Despite this, even the vaunted New York Yankees can't hold a candle to No. 1 on this list.
1. Brett Favre
We are about five years away from Brett Favre having his own verb for indecision. For example, "I really favred things up with my fiancée last week. That bachelor party was a terrible idea."
I kid, I kid. At least, I think that's the case.
That's what gets Favre to the top of the list. There is absolutely nothing we would believe about him at this point. He could text an NFL reporter that he hunted down and ate a baby in Chile last week, and we would just shrug.
He could retire five minutes from now, and we'd expect to see him at practice this afternoon.
The worst part about the yearly Favrathon is that we don't even know when it will be over. Could he really play into his 60s? Will I live longer than he plays football?
These things are on the table. The only foreseeable end in sight would be a horrendous career-ending injury. Even then, I wouldn't rule out news that the 49ers had signed a remote-controlled Favrebot out of nowhere.
And I still wouldn't be surprised.