The 2011 NFL Hateability Index
The NFL season is upon us, and let's face it: Your team probably won't win the Super Bowl. This is because every team
Your season is bound to end in disappointment, unless your fantasy team wins a championship, but the most important lesson we can learn in life is that nobody cares about your fantasy team.
So what do you do? You could try cheering for another team, but that is un-American. The morally righteous thing to do is to cheer
On that note, and purely for our own amusement, we are going to determine how hateable every team in the NFL is. Let's face it: Some teams make you want to buy a first-class plane ticket so you can fly across the country and watch them suffer. Other teams almost make you feel bad when you cheer against them. I did say "almost."
Let's go through every team in the NFL and decide: How easy are they to hate? We will give them a Hateability Factor on a scale of 2 to 10. Why 2 to 10? Well, everybody gets at least a 2 on general principle. This is sports. If you can't root against a team, you aren't trying.
OK, here we go.
On the other hand, the Bills are sort of endearing. They have a long history of losing, they play in a cold-weather town that cares about football, and -- we cannot overstate the importance of this -- they are my mom's favorite team.
Other than that, not much to hate about the Dolphins. I still feel bad for Dan Marino. He never won a Super Bowl, he is generally left out of discussions about the best quarterback ever, his records are getting obliterated by this pass-happy era, and he was at his best before people played fantasy football, which he would have dominated. Also, he missed out on a well-deserved Oscar for
Bill Belichick shows no interest in the public nature of his job; no warms, no fuzzies, no nothing from the brilliant coach. When he got caught filming opponents' defensive signals, it was just about the only thing we knew about him. How much did the spying scandal help the Patriots? Who cares? We might not have enough evidence to fully convict, but we have enough to hate. We should also point out here that there is absolutely nothing about Tom Brady that you can fairly hate. Don't you hate that about him?
And now the Jets are acting like the bullies on the block when they haven't even made a Super Bowl. Rex Ryan talks more trash than almost any coach in history, except maybe his father. He seems to encourage his players to do the same. Say this for the Jets: They seem like they
Also: Ray Lewis.
But they also employ a quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who has been accused of sexual assault multiple times; a running back, Rashard Mendenhall, who questioned whether the 9/11 attacks happened the way America believes they happened; and a star defensive player, James Harrison, who should probably avoid speaking in public, and also in private.
The Colts just don't give you the feeling that they understand football is supposed to be hard. They swiped a team. They have played in two domes. They stunk until they lucked into one of the top five quarterbacks ever, Peyton Manning, with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Now all they do is win, win, win. There is nothing that makes you hate a team more than that.
What was wrong with Oilers? Houston could have shown it was a real old-school football town like Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Cincinnati, its old AFC Central rivals. It could have revived
Plus, the Raiders are the team that tried to make excess a virtue. That pirate on the helmet is probably the most accurate logo in all of sports -- the epitome of how the Raiders see themselves. It would be like if Harvard decorated its helmet with a drawing of the nation's highest tax bracket. You always get the feeling that if a Raiders star was caught mixing recreational and performance-enhancing drugs while breaking curfew so he can sleep with the opposing quarterback's wife, Al would slip him a bonus in violation of the salary cap.
You know that deep down, Davis wants this rating to be an 11. I mean, I doubt he is reading my column. He is busy traveling from one track meet to another, tying down sprinters so he can put football pads on them against their will. But generally speaking, he wants the whole world to hate the Raiders and their "greatness" and Commitment to Excellence, because that's how it was back in the glory days. Sorry, Al. You're too incompetent to fully hate these days.
Since Elway retired, the Broncos have been too good to mock but not good enough to hate. Then they drafted Tim Tebow, and while Tebow himself is almost impossible to hate, Tebowmania is easy to hate. Anybody who watched Tebow at Florida had to think, "Great college player, but can he make it in the pros?" Maybe you said yes and maybe, like me, you said no. But reasonable people had to ask. And let's face it: A lot of Tebow fans
Now the Broncos seem to have zero interest in making Tebow their long-term quarterback, which means a) Tebow fans can hate the organization for not giving their man a shot, and b) people who are tired of Tebowmania can hate the Broncos because he is still on the team. See? Plenty of hate to go around -- all because the Broncos drafted such a likable guy. Isn't this fun?
Alas, they are still from New York, and while I am a native New Yorker, I can't kid myself. People hate New York teams.
These days the Redskins remain exceedingly hateable for two reasons. Their 1980s greatness is still seared in the memories of anybody who is 30 or older, and their owner, Daniel Snyder, still seems like a spoiled rich kid who thinks he is better than you because he can afford more toys.
And yet ... the Eagles are not all that hateable, for two reasons. One is that they have never won a Super Bowl. And the other is that everybody else in the NFC East is easier to hate.
And yet: You hate Jay Cutler. I certainly don't. But you do, right? Of course you do.
The rest of America hates the Lions for playing on Thanksgiving every year, robbing Americans of their favorite activity: Watching football while ignoring their families.
Then they drafted Randy Moss. They had that whole Love Boat incident. The final straw, for the public, was when they coaxed Brett Favre out of retirement. It just seemed like a desperate, soul-selling gesture -- Vikings fans had cheered against Favre for years, and now they were willing to love him if it meant going to the Super Bowl. Would Browns fans have embraced an aging Terry Bradshaw like that? I don't think so.
For better or worse, the teams seem to reflect the city's limited passion. Dominique Wilkins was content to score a bunch. The Braves made the playoffs every year but only won one World Series. These Falcons seem different -- Matt Ryan seems like the kind of quarterback who will win the Super Bowl one day. But they aren't fully hateable yet.
As for the 49ers: If Harbaugh wins, and I believe he will eventually, they can go back to being one of the league's glamour teams. And, of course, they can be hated again. Until then ...