When you're a professional athlete and you're really good at what you do, you're going to attract boatloads of fans. If you're a fan of any sport, be it football, hockey, or even indoor soccer, you're bound to have a favorite player. It may not be the most high profile guy on the team – maybe you appreciate the fact that they hustle more than anybody else, or that they will do the dirty work others won't – but if you're a sports fan, there is bound to be somebody that you single out as being the player you throw all of your support behind.
Sometimes though, that respect and admiration some fans have for players goes a bit too far. Sometimes, it turns into something that borders on obsession, and in most cases, total denial of not just the obsession itself, but outright denial of certain facts and truths about the object of their admiration. That sort of unwavering support and loyalty can take a turn for the overzealous, obnoxious, and downright psychotic in the blink of an eye.
Athletes in every sport have crowds and crowds of fans who loyally – and sometimes blindly – support them in everything do. The fans heap adulation and praise on these athletes for every move they make. It's not very hard to imagine some of these fans running into their favorite player at the supermarket and going nuts, shouting that they just bought a gallon of milk better than anybody had ever bought a gallon of milk in the history of supermarkets.
Diehard fans of this player or that player are interesting creatures for sure. It's sometimes sort of sad, but usually a fascinating case study in obsession. But hey, it's sports and as we know, sports brings out a little of the crazy in all of us.
With that in mind, here are 15 Pro Athletes with the Most Psychotic Fans...
15 Brian Wilson (Los Angeles Dodgers)
We're going to blame the folks in San Francisco for the Cult of Brian Wilson. People dressing up with giant, bushy, Duck Dynasty-esque style shoe polish black beards to pay homage to the flamboyant relief pitcher have seemingly trickled down to Dodger Stadium from the Bay Area. And that was in a down season where his ERA was 4.66. We fear what the Cult of Brian Wilson will do if he ever pitches well in a meaningful game again.
14 Ray Rice (Formerly of the Baltimore Ravens)
That Baltimore Ravens fans could actually give him a standing ovation when he stepped on the practice field during the preseason, still wear his jersey proudly, and still throw their support behind somebody like Ray Rice speaks volumes about their love for Rice. The problem is that we don't think it's a healthy love. That you could cheer for a guy who straight up knocked his fiancee out cold, all because he can probably still run for 1,000 yards, is downright psychotic.
13 Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers)
Kaepernick is one of the NFL's bright young stars. He's not your prototypical quarterback, and his plethora of tattoos and swagger make him seem like someone a younger audience can relate to. Though he's good and he's talented, he's nowhere near the second coming of Joe Montana... which some of his fans swear he is. And neither the NFL nor the referees are out to job him 24/7. Talk to some of these Kaep fans and they'll tell you that he's the best QB to ever step on a field, and that the refs and the league are persecuting him because he doesn't conform to the buttoned up, squeaky clean image they desire. Perhaps before anointing him the greatest ever, Kaepernick should actually win something.
12 Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Lebron is easily one of the best players in the NBA today. He's accomplished, dominant, and a physical specimen. He's also considered a bit of a crybaby and flopper. But don't tell his fans that or you're likely to be hit with a blunt object. So blindly loyal are Lebron's fans, they even defend – to this very day – The Decision. How they can defend that abomination shows the depth of their loyalty/psychotic obsession. He's made up for The Decision by returning to Cleveland, but you shouldn't defend that move.
11 Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Puig has a ton of raw talent, there is no denying that. He's incredibly physically gifted, and can have a huge impact on a game. The trouble with Puig though, is that thus far, he hasn't demonstrated the mental or emotional maturity to truly fulfill his potential or become one of the best. His recent struggles and behavior during the Dodgers' playoff series loss is a testament to that. But his loyal fan base just ignores that bit and tells you you're crazy for not ignoring it, simply because every now and then, he can crush a baseball and power it out of the stadium.
10 Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)
It's somewhat hard to believe that in the wake of the child abuse scandal, he recently got a pass on – oh, excuse me – worked out a slap on the wrist plea arrangement for, that All Day has any fans left. But oh does he. And they'll tell you all about the raw deal he's gotten if you give them the chance. But much like Ray Rice, if you can stand to look at photos of the child he left welts, cuts, and bruises on after “disciplining him,” and still welcome him back to the team with no reservations, it might be time to examine your priorities a bit. Just sayin'.
9 Derek Jeter (Formerly of the New York Yankees)
I had as much respect for Jeter as the next guy. He played hard and he played the right way for a very long time – unlike a certain teammate of his. Major League baseball is a little poorer now that Jeter has retired. Jeter embodied all of the good things we love about baseball. But seriously, crying openly and posting 10,000 word essays about what Jeter meant to you and how your life will never be the same now that he's gone – and then crying some more about it – is a little much for a baseball player, don't you think?
8 Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos)
Manning's fans hang on his every Omaha with bated breath. Some of them even walk around screaming “Omaha” at you for no good reason other than they seem to think it's funny. Or something. Manning is one hell of a quarterback, there is no question. He's a first ballot Hall of Famer, for sure. Some of us would prefer though, that he be enshrined in Canton sooner rather than later just to avoid having to hear his fans extolling his virtues and shouting Omaha every chance they get.
7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR)
He's one of the most popular drivers on the NASCAR circuit today. He's got a fan base that stretches from sea to shining sea, made up of the young as well as the older (imagine what sort of fanbase he'd have if he actually won something!). Junior's fans though, often cross over into the ludicrous, obnoxious, and downright psychotic. Whether they're sporting big, bold tattoos, or never leave the house without some piece of Earnhardt paraphernalia, it's never difficult to spot a Junior fan.
6 Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Forget Pope Francis. Tom Brady is the closest thing to Jesus there is to some folks in the northeastern part of the country. We get that having success will win you scores of fans. And truth be told, Brady and the Patriots have had a lot of success over the last decade. But despite what Brady's psychotic fans say, and they say a lot, his *ahem* bodily emissions smell like roses. And more than that, Tom freaking Brady doesn't need to be worked into every single conversation that you have. Unless you're from Boston apparently.
5 Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Browns)
Manziel had a good run at Texas A&M and helped bring that program back to respectability. As a result, he's earned a lot of fans along the way not just for his success, but for his swagger and style. But his diehard (psychotic) fans would have you believe that Manziel is the best thing ever and keeping him on the bench is an absolute crime. But Manziel/Browns fans need to keep something in mind – Johnny Football couldn't even beat out Brian freaking Hoyer in camp! And 9 games into the season now, he still hasn't made the coaches consider benching Hoyer and starting him. Hoyer is now 6-3 on the season, so Manizel fans will have to wait a bit longer to see him.
4 Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees)
Now that his suspension is over, A-Rod's fans are counting down the days until camps open and they can see their man, who has a painting of himself – as a centaur – adorning the walls in his home, step onto the field again after missing the season because of his PED usage. As enamored with Rodriguez as they are, they're all too happy to either ignore or explain away his PED use with either the “everybody is doing it, he just got caught” defense, or the “he could have accomplished all he did without the juice anyway” defense. Personally though, some of us can't abide such a blatant cheater.
3 Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
The Black Mamba has had an incredibly storied career. It's a career that has seen him bring home multiple awards, as well as a number of championship trophies, and become one of the best to ever play the game. Over his 19 seasons in LA, the Mamba has cultivated a very passionate, very vocal fanbase. Though some of his fans would vehemently disagree, Kobe is in the twilight of his career. Is he still a solid player? Yes. Is his play declining? Yes. Are the Lakers better for having him on their roster still? Probably. Would the Lakers be a better team if he weren't jacking up 40 shots a game, but instead, getting his teammates involved and helping elevate their play? Abso-freaking-lutely. But if you dare say that on the street, you'll likely just be called a Kobe-hater.
2 Tim Tebow (Denver Broncos/New York Jets)
There is perhaps no more polarizing figure in sports than Tim Tebow. Regardless of your stance on his religious beliefs, (am I alone in wanting to smack anybody that thought “Tebowing” was cool?) the fact of the matter is that as great as he was in college, Tebow was never a good – or even mediocre – quarterback in the NFL. Even his own receivers in Denver, speaking anonymously of course, complained about how bad he was in practice. Of course, mention this (or his pretty below average 75.3 career QB rating) and Tebow's fans will be at your door, torches and pitchforks in hand, ready to deliver God's own wrath unto you.
1 Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys)
There is perhaps no other quarterback in the league, who's generated such an inspired, passionate, and loyal following for having as little actual success as Tony Romo. Let's just get this out of the way – Romo is a very good quarterback. Is he “elite?” That's up for debate. But what cannot be denied is the fact that Romo has never gotten his team anywhere close to the ultimate prize. In his 11 NFL seasons, Romo has been to the playoffs just 3 times and has put up fairly pedestrian numbers in those postseason contests. What's more, he hasn't been able to get his team to the postseason in 4 years (and counting), But mention any of that to a Cowboys fan and you'll likely get the “real” reason for Romo's struggles. It's the offensive line. It's the coaching. It's Jessica Simpson. It's anything but Romo himself. But mention that, and you're just asking for trouble. You'll likely be called a hater, an idiot, an ignorant fool, a moron, or even worse. Usually worse, truth be told.