Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan
Football fans are fiercely territorial people.
Being a staunch Packers fan, my most hated team is usually whoever Green Bay is playing the following week.
But there are teams that transcend matchup hatred. Some teams just provoke an immediate, venomous reaction from fans of all kinds.
Knowing that this is true, it naturally provokes the question of “Why?”
Teams can be hated for a variety of reasons—history, rivalry, scandal, individual players or coaches—but most teams are hated for one universally simple reason.
Envy provokes hatred perhaps more than any other single factor. Everyone wants to knock the king off the mountain.
With that, here are the 10 most hated teams in the NFL.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “How can Matt put the lowly Raiders on this list after arguing that greatness is the most direct precursor to hatred?”
The Raiders are no doubt bad right now, but the readers who remember the John Madden Raiders of the 1970s and the Los Angeles Raiders of the 1980s are no doubt nodding their heads in agreement right now.
For two decades, the Raiders fielded some of the dirtiest teams in the NFL history. Between the dirty hits by their players and the over-the-top, almost ridiculous behavior of their owner Al Davis, it was hard not to loathe those teams.
By now the memories of those teams are fading, but there is no doubt that when the Raiders are brought up, the words dirty, nasty and crazy are bound to come to mind.
As a diehard Packers fan, I can’t really imagine feeling anything but love for this franchise, but for everyone else the picture is surely far less rosy.
I’ll do my best to remove my own bias and think about Green Bay objectively.
First on the list has to be the fact that the Packers are the winningest franchise in NFL history; the numbers don’t lie. Four Super Bowls and 11 NFL championships put Green Bay in a class by itself.
Following close behind is Green Bay’s nickname, “Titletown.” Whether or not you think it’s well deserved, that name surely must make other fans’ blood boil—especially those of teams who have also won their fair share of championships (Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Dallas, etc.).
Finally, the Packers are simply the best team in the NFL right now (argue if you want, but I’m right). They are coming off a win in Super Bowl XLV and have the look of a dynasty in the making. That alone puts a target on their backs from the rest of the league.
Like I said, everyone wants to knock the king off the mountain.
Okay, this one might have something to do with my being a Packers fan, but I just can’t imagine rooting for the Vikings (unless you’re from Minnesota, of course).
Between the Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss (who did things like this) teams earlier this decade, and the Brett Favre-led teams of the past couple of years, loving to hate the Minnesota Vikings is easy to do.
Granted, Minnesota is one of the most tortured franchises in the NFL (one NFL championship in 1969, no Super Bowl wins in four attempts), so that buys them a bit of sympathy even from me.
But not enough to keep them off this list.
The Colts' placement on this list is all about one guy (at least to me):
There really just is something about him, isn’t there? I think it’s “The Face.” The Manning face is a well-established phenomenon that just screams entitlement and petulance.
I will admit that I don’t hate Peyton Manning nearly as much as I once did, but it’s still hard for me to root for him. It’s more than just the face too. It’s that the refs throw a flag if someone so much as breathes on him wrong. It’s that I can’t turn on the television without seeing him hawking a product (that might be a tad unfair).
But most of all, I (along with everyone else I know) am just tired of hearing about Manning and the Colts. I know they have been one of the consistently best teams in the NFL, but I think I speak for millions of football fans when I say enough is enough with the Peyton Manning/Indianapolis Colts love fest.
Another Manning, many more instances of “The Face.”
Ever since Eli demanded to play in New York coming out of college, I was done with him. What kind of rookie has the audacity to force his way onto the team of his choice before he even steps foot on the field?
It was a signature Manning moment.
Beyond Eli, I think it’s just easy to hate New Yorkers. Am I wrong? Even they hate each other.
It doesn’t help that their coach is, by many accounts, a jerk. Known as “Colonel Coughlin,” head coach Tom Coughlin has been known to fine his players for being two minutes early to meetings. His reason? They should have been five minutes early.
I once asked my girlfriend who her least favorite NFL player was. She responded in emphatic fashion, “That pig Ben Roethlisberger.”
I think that pretty well sums up why people hate the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I don’t really want to get into a lengthy discussion of Big Ben’s off-field problems, but it’s hard as a fan to segregate the feelings that behavior provokes from rooting interest in the team he leads. As a wise man once said, “It is what it is.”
Aside from Roethlisberger, the Steelers have been a remarkably successful organization and have beaten many teams (my Packers included) in heartbreaking fashion on their way to six Super Bowl titles.
Those are wounds that don’t easily heal, and like I said in my introduction, success breeds envy, and envy breeds hatred.
As a Packers fan, there really is only one reason to hate the Eagles: 4th-and-26.
In the 2004 NFC divisional playoff round, the Packers had the Eagles dead to one last play.
Down 17-14 with less than two minutes to play, Donovan McNabb converted a 4th-and-26 that led to a tying field goal. Philadelphia went on to win the game in overtime.
I recently wrote that it was the most heartbreaking loss in Packers history.
For everyone else, it’s all about the fans. Eagles fans were last month named the “Worst Fans in America” (tied with the Philadelphia Phillies) by GQ magazine. Philly fans will say they are unmatched in their loyalty and commitment. Most others will say they are unmatched in their nastiness.
Every time someone calls the Dallas Cowboys “America’s Team,” I want to punch something. Calling Dallas "America’s Team" is like calling Donald Trump "America’s Most Beloved Businessman."
Come to think of it, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones shares more than a few traits in common with Donal Trump. More than anything else, it’s always about him.
The current Dallas Cowboys team is particularly hateable, but it’s hard to get over the Jimmy Johnson teams of the 1990s. Between Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders they were perhaps the most insufferably arrogant and abrasive team in NFL history.
The New England Patriots have created something of an evil dynasty in the NFL.
We hate the Patriots because Bill Belichick is a tactical genius.
We hate Bill Belichick because he looks like a drifter on the sidelines.
We hate the Patriots because they are good every year.
We hate the Patriots because they have Tom Brady.
We hate Tom Brady because he married Gisele.
We hate the Patriots because they cheat.
New England has been the best NFL franchise of the past 15 years. Everyone wants to emulate its success. Everyone wants to beat the Patriots.
Everyone (who isn't a Patriots fan) loves to hate them.
For me, this was a total no-brainer. How can you hate a team more than the New York Jets?
Every time Rex Ryan makes a ridiculous claim about his team being the best, a puppy dies (not really).
Here is a quote from Rex Ryan on the day he was named head coach of the Jets:
“The message to the rest of the league is, hey, the Jets are coming, and we’re going to give you everything we got. And I think that’s going to be more than you can handle.”
Here’s another from the same press conference:
“First off, with all the cameras I was looking for our new President (Barack Obama) back there. I think we’ll get to meet him in the next couple of years anyway.”
If those quotes weren’t enough, then surely the Jets' appearance on last season’s Hard Knocks should have done the trick. Has there ever been a team that walked around with more swagger that it didn’t actually earn?
You have to win championships to be the best. Talk alone doesn’t get it done.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Barack Obama will be done with two terms in office before the Jets ever get the chance to visit him as Super Bowl champions.