Living in the public eye isn't easy, but it is the dream for many. This is mostly because most jobs that get one in the public eye are well-paying. But let's examine the whole "fame and fortune" thing. If you are anything less than completely phenomenal at all times, your face will be splattered throughout the tabloids and people you've never met will be saying all manner of unspeakable things about you. No matter how thick-skinned you are, it can get tough.
Even those who do have a spotless record are subject to speculation and have to deal with ridiculous rumors. Remember when some unscrupulous sources reported a couple of years ago that Aaron Rodgers was gay? There'd be nothing wrong with that but the rumors were ridiculous and baseless.
Along with having no private life, those who are in the limelight, athletes and other celebrities alike, are subject to the kind of hatred normally reserved for politicians. Take a swing at someone after he calls you a horrible name at a bar and people will hate you for it. Buy a Ferrari because you work hard for your money and people will hate you out of jealousy and speculate about the size of your manhood.
The most common reasons for people hating on athletes include drug use, violent crimes, unsportsmanlike behavior and of course, treatment of women. While some athletes such as criminal O.J. Simpson, spouse beater Ray Rice, child beater Adrian Peterson, and dog killer Michael Vick have earned the hatred they get from fans, here are some athletes who unduly endure the wrath of fans.
15 Rajon Rondo
Whether he plays for the Celtics, Mavericks or Kings, Rajon Rondo has plenty of haters around the league and among fans. He's been one of the best point guards in the NBA for years and occasionally reminds people of this, so people think he's arrogant. He used to play for the Celtics and when he did plenty of basketball fans hated him for that. He's a rough competitor who is no stranger to abrasive and even dirty play.
But at the same time, Rondo is not only naturally skilled and smart on the court, he's one of the hardest workers out there. He isn't there to make friends or to talk to the media, he just wants to focus on basketball and play the game as well as he can.
14 LeBron James
Plenty of people hate to hear it but LeBron James is in the conversation regarding basketball's G.O.A.T.s (greatest of all time). 2003's first overall draft pick can play about any position on the court and excels on defense. The two-time champ, four time MVP and eleven-time All-Star also has a reputation for being selfish and arrogant. I, for one, can understand the arrogance. If I was the best basketball player in the world, I'd be arrogant too.
His greatest criticism stems from the fact that he left his hometown of Cleveland to play in Miami. He did so, in hopes of winning a championship (mission accomplished twice), and then returned to Cleveland. In short, people dislike him because he went to play for a better team that gave him a better chance of achieving his dream. It's time for his haters to get over it. LeBron James has a very solid reputation off the court and is a known philanthropist. Granted, my points here are somewhat moot as dislike of LeBron James is no longer as big as it was a couple of years ago.
13 Manti Te'o
Again, much like King James, most people are over hearing about Manti Te'o and the fake girlfriend hoax. If he's actually guilty of anything, it's being a bit of a sucker for falling for a girl without actually meeting her in person. Some people are like that, and while he probably shouldn't have mentioned his private life so much, he wasn't trying to hurt anyone. Te'o isn't, and wasn't, a bad guy and got tricked into an online relationship that led many people to demonize him because they thought he was a liar trying to increase his image with the public.
12 Tom Brady
This is going to infuriate a ton of people because quite a few of you, I'm sure, are not over "Deflategate" yet. First off, stop using the suffix "gate" after sports scandals, as they don't compare to Watergate, the original "Gate" scandal. Secondly, the deflation issue is such a pathetic, laughable controversy to begin with. But even if he is a cheater, he's suffered no negative consequences. Four Super Bowls, a supermodel wife, and have you seen his home? This guy is a God!
Looking at him on the field, there is no quarterback in football with a better head under pressure. Let's be clear, I'm no Patriots fan-boy, I'm a Packers fan. Aaron Rodgers has some impressive numbers for a quarterback, but he still has a way to go and needs some more rings before he's on the same level as Brady.
11 Bryce Harper
There are two words often thrown around with regard to Bryce Harper. They are "overrated" and "arrogant." No. Not just no, but hell no. Let me ask his haters, in what sense is he overrated? The near .290 batting average is just pretty good, I guess, right? Just under 100 home runs in three and a half seasons (2014 he missed 60 games with due to injury). Stat crunching analysts generally point out that he's among the top outfielders in the league and his base-running isn't bad at all. Wherein lies the part of his game that is overrated?
In terms of arrogant, that's a pile of nonsense. Sports fans need to learn that while there are plenty of arrogant athletes out there, there is a serious difference between being arrogant and having confidence and charisma.
10 Johnny Manziel
Much like Tebow, Johnny Football is looking like a former Heisman winning NFL failure. When you get benched in favor of Josh McCown, it may be time to start memorizing stats and hope that NFL Network has a need for analysts. Manziel was unstoppable with Texas A&M but in the NFL his scrambling and arm are roughly average. He's barely played and when he has, his play has been completely unremarkable.
Much of the criticism that he has endured is due to his reputation as a party-hard pretty boy who spends more time chasing tail and taking selfies than studying playbooks and hitting the gym. While his critics have a point, we can all imagine what we'd be like if we were God's gift to college football and the first freshman Heisman winner of all time. I'd have washed up on some Thai beach with a gnarly case of syphilis and a liver illness ages ago. He earned some celebrity status and let it go to his head. It can happen to anyone who becomes successful. He's eaten his slice of humble pie and now appears to be making an effort to be a football player. Losing a starting job to McCown will do that to a man.
9 Brett Favre
Brett Favre is living proof that one can play two decades of NFL football, win a Super Bowl, break tons of records, but still be hated for a poor idea like sending an NSFW picture to a sportscaster. He also suffered from a Vicodin addiction early in his career. This is a ridiculous reason to hate Favre because he was taking medication for injuries and painkiller addiction can happen to anyone. It's far too easy for someone who's never dealt with chronic pain to say "he should have been in control." He came clean, he dealt with it, move on.
The picture and suggestive voicemail to Jen Sterger make up another story and is far more difficult to defend. I will say that the NFL never proved that the picture was from him, but even if it was, his wife forgave him and they're still together, so football fans can forgive him for it too.
There are others who hate on Brett Favre because of all the interceptions he threw during his career but that's why he's the Gunslinger. He's not perfect but he's still one of the greatest and most entertaining quarterbacks in the history of the game.
Even Packers fans who are bitter about him signing with Minnesota years ago need to realize there are two sides to any story like that and Favre wasn't, by any means, entirely the villain.
8 Sidney Crosby
Sid the Kid is a popular target for hockey fans because he generated a reputation as a soft complainer in his early seasons. It has been suggested that he didn't play enough of a physical game, that he refused to fight and that he routinely whined about teammates and coaching during his early seasons.
I'll give it to his haters, Crosby lacked media savvy in his past career. He told the media what was on his mind, rather than giving the standard "we have a lot to work on and we'll come back stronger" answers that every other player delivers week after week. He's stopped complaining in the past several years and regardless of his interview follies, he's a great leader, ranks among the most skilled players in the game right now and is probably the smartest player in the NHL. He has won the Stanley Cup along with two Olympic gold medals; one of which he won via an overtime goal. The guy's a national hero for Canada and if you dislike him because you're not Canadian and he has those two medals, enjoy the bitterness of that Haterade you're chugging, but that's a childish reason.
7 Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow has done nothing to be disliked by the public, but plenty of people detest him anyway. If there's one thing I can say about him that will sum up his career, he's a college star (Heisman winner) whose skill set did not translate as well as some hoped to the professional level. That's it. He isn't a bad guy and has done nothing wrong except be a poor fit for the NFL. If he was still an NFL starter, that team's fans would have reason to dislike him, if he offered up less than satisfactory performances.
Those who do dislike Tebow generally don't care for his image. He was in a commercial for Focus on the Family (a Christian group) with his mother. The commercial was about abortion, but nobody said that word and they simply told the story of the events involving his birth. It was a lighthearted way of saying "hey girls, think about how great your kid could be before you have that abortion." But still, people were enraged.
Outside of the FOTF ad, he prayed before getting on the field and many analysts asked about his faith. This has pissed people off for years because being secular is gradually becoming the fashionable thing to do. I'm not religious because I don't care for the stories, but if used to strengthen communities and foster love and understanding, it is actually a pretty great thing. Get off Tebow's back for the Christian thing, he's not hurting anyone.
6 Tony Romo
People call Tony Romo a choker and love to throw out the words "weak" and "soft," but all they're doing is chirping a very respectable quarterback who's made some very poor and memorable decisions.
I'll address "weak" and "soft" first. Yes, he's a quarterback. They are soft. They wear red jerseys in practice. He's been the starter in Dallas for nine years (not including 2015) and before this season, had missed 15 games due to injury, ten of them in 2010.
As per being a choker, yes, there are some very notable instances of Romo tossing interceptions at inopportune times. I'm not a Cowboys fan, but it must have been heartbreaking. Most years however, he has a completion percentage over 65%, throws for over 3,500 yards. Furthermore, his touchdown to interception ratio is better than most in the NFL.
Off the field, people know him as a ladies' man. He's dated beautiful women like Carrie Underwood, Jessica Simpson, Sophia Bush and his current wife, Candice Crawford, is a stunner as well. People who hate him for this are jealous and look pathetic. Hating a guy because he's with awesome looking women is about as weak as it gets.
5 Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese star is one of the best soccer (football, whatever) players in the world. Along with the skill and the paycheck comes merciless hatred. I will admit that he has a reputation for being arrogant that is well earned. If there is a legitimate reason to dislike the guy, there you have it. Many people have argued, however, that his extreme competitiveness is sometimes seen, falsely, as arrogance.
Aside from the arrogance, he has been accused of diving. The diving thing is more of a problem for the game of soccer rather than individual players. If one can draw penalties and ultimately score more and win more by doing so, it may be underhanded but good on him.
Finally, there are plenty of fans out there who just hate him because he's attractive and dates beautiful women. This is a trend among players who don't deserve so much hate and it's a pathetic reason.
4 Mark McGwire/Barry Bonds
These two guys are notorious for having been juice monkeys during a time in baseball history during which that was the norm. They were just two of the most prolific sluggers of that time, so, they field all the criticism. Notice that I left Sammy Sosa out of this one. He juiced and corked the bat, two violations like that and you're off the don't-hate-list.
Bonds was a tad arrogant and had the reputation of ignoring fans during his career and had some interesting run-ins with the law and media. Nothing he ever did, however, should have earned him the kind of negative image he has had for the past decade. McGwire just took roids around the turn of the century and hit a ton of home runs. Criticizing a baseball player for taking PEDs in the late 90s and early 2000s is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. My defense of these two extends to most baseball stars from the period.
You're welcome for the Apocalypse Now reference.
3 Todd Bertuzzi
Like many members of this list, Todd Bertuzzi did a very stupid thing. He punched a guy from behind, causing a pile-up on the ice, during which Steve Moore broke part of his neck. It ended Moore's career.
Moore had been egging Bertuzzi on for the whole game, he had injured his captain earlier in the year and there was bad blood between Betuzzi's Canucks and Moore's Avalanche to begin with. When trying to lure someone into a fight, the last thing one should do is turn around and skate away. Not to say that what Bertuzzi did was excusable, but for fans to still detest someone for one foolish act over a decade ago during an emotionally intense game is ridiculous.
2 Lance Armstrong
Once considered the greatest bicyclist of all time, Lance Armstrong has essentially had his name erased from the record books. He doped for a long time, lied about it for a long time, and when the anti-doping folks came a-knocking and he refused to pander to their demands, "guilty until proven innocent" kicked in, and the sport threw him under the bus.
I'll say something similar to what I said about doping in baseball. Investigating cyclists for using PEDs is like scrutinizing Somali warlords for corruption. I'm not saying that what Armstrong did was right. He shouldn't have doped (allegedly) and he probably shouldn't have lied about it, but that was the world he was in, and for us to hate a man who started an amazing charitable organization that serves people affected by cancer is ludicrous. He is a great man with a tarnished reputation, but to me, he's still one of the greatest competitors in the history of sport. Character assassination and scapegoating can be powerful things, and sports fans can be very fickle.
1 Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods did what most of us males would love to do: everything in sight with the opposite set of parts. That's right, Tiger was one of the most beloved sports figures in the world. He had a great backstory, charm and among the best skill-sets the game of golf had ever seen.
With the fame and fortune came the ability to attract a variety of women. Tiger Woods quickly went from the golden boy of the sports world to the scum of the Earth. Tiger Woods' amazing reputation caught up with him, and in short, he was up on a pedestal. We forgot that Tiger Woods was human and that is what caused his infidelity to be such an affront to so many people. Guys are this way and it doesn't matter how much self control one tries to exercise, biology kicks in eventually.