Professional sports. It is something that many Americans can’t live without. We win and lose with all of our favorite teams and we develop relationships with the guys on our teams and develop hatred for the players that wear the opposing colors. The hatred that many sports fans develop for players on their rival teams is one that is as simple and basic as the opposing colors, but more times than not, that hatred comes from something idiotic, stupid, or downright awful that a player has done.
The categories of hatred are universal throughout team and individual sports. For the most part, in our current times, a lot of hatred comes from alleged incidents of cheating. In today’s sports world, the most popular form of cheating is doping, or steroid and other performance enhancing drug use. Other reasons we as fans may decide to hate a player is off-field incidents involving domestic issues or in some worse cases, abuse of our favorite four-legged animals.
Regardless of the reason why we may choose to hate players, the hatred grows deep and if we had the chance to give them our best shot, we would. Who are the top 20 athletes we would love to knock out and why do we hate them so?
20 Jay Cutler
One of the highest paid players in the National Football League is Jay Cutler. The 31-year-old started just two playoff games in his career with the lone win coming in 2010. At times, his toughness has been questioned, which is one of the biggest issues fans in Chicago and Denver have had with him throughout his career. If the Chicago Bears could have found a team to absorb his contract prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, Cutler would have been annoying fans in another city, but for the time being, it will be Da Bears that will need to suffer through the urge to knock him out.
19 Nick Diaz
The only mixed martial artist to make the cut is Nick Diaz. The native of Stockton, CA is one of the most talented athletes in the sport but he is a brash and outspoken fighter that knows how to get under the skin of his opponents and fans. His last fight with Anderson Silva was the perfect example of how he gets under the skin of anyone watching or taking part in his fight, but be careful. If you choose to take a shot at Diaz, expect him to strike back.
18 Alex Ovechkin
The first of two players from the National Hockey League to make this list is Alex Ovechkin from the Washington Capitals. This talented player always has a way of getting under the skin of the opposing team and their fans. That is the type of player you would love to have on your team but will absolutely despise when on the other bench. Most recently, he made waves by calling for a victory in game seven against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoffs this season, but Rangers fans were happy to throw it back in his face following their win.
17 Tiger Woods
There are so many reasons to pick from on why fans would love to knock out Tiger Woods. You can start with his infidelity from his ex-wife Elin. Even before that, many fans began to have a certain distaste for Woods because of all his success. For many fans, the more you succeed, the more you will be hated. This has always been the case and is why many fans hate Kobe Bryant and even college basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.
16 Tony Romo
Until last season, Tony Romo was a quarterback that had all the talent to succeed, but never found a way to put it all together. He figured it out last season and is poised to have another remarkable run through the regular season in 2015. Being the face of the Dallas Cowboys is a position that is going to make a lot of people love you and even more hate you. With the tough NFC East featuring some of the most loved (and hated) teams in the sport and some of the most crazed fans in all of professional sports, Romo is an easy addition to this list.
15 John Cena
Professional wrestling superstar John Cena is one of the biggest names that sport has ever had. He has a larger than life personality that makes him a fan favorite of those in the under 18 age range. Kids love him but it is those in the 18 to 50 age range that would love the chance to put him on his butt if given a free shot. That will of course never happen and that hatred is nonsensical considering all the good things he does with the Make a Wish Foundation and other charities.
14 Tim Tebow
Even though Tim Tebow hasn’t played a snap in a professional football game since 2012 when he was a member of the New York Jets, he is still a player that fans love to hate. During the offseason he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and while he has already made waves in the jersey sales ranking, he makes the cut as a player that many fans will want to hit hard. The amount of hatred fans have for him is something I will never fully understand, but I had to include him here regardless of my feelings.
13 Sidney Crosby
Sid the Kid is the face of the National Hockey League. The member of the Pittsburgh Penguins is one of the most loved players in all of Pennsylvania sports, but for fans outside of the state, he is one of the biggest <insert favorite adjective here>. He is considered by many to be a crybaby and his constant appearance of whining and complaining is something that many fans just can’t get used to. Whether it is jealousy or not doesn’t matter as his hatred is well known throughout the sports world.
12 Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard is one of the best big men in the National Basketball Association, but his demeanor on the court has made fans take notice since he was a member of the Orlando Magic. Throughout his time in the league including his time with the Los Angeles Lakers and now with the Houston Rockets, he has been called for several flagrant fouls that came about from frustration with his play or a call. Anger when playing poorly is expected, but there is just something about his attitude that makes fans want to knock him out.
11 Ray Rice
Ray Rice is an athlete that could be as high as the top spot on this list considering his actions last year. By now, anyone with access to the internet or a television has seen the video of Rice knocking out his then-fiancé in an elevator. Those disgusting actions led to his suspension from the National Football League and his release from the Baltimore Ravens. He is still without a team and it is difficult to imagine any team taking a chance on him and facing all the negative reaction from the media and fans.
10 Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman is one of the premier defensive players in the National Football League. He played a large role in the Super Bowl victory for the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 and nearly helped lead them to victory this past year. The biggest issue many fans have with him that often heads to negative reactions and feelings is his cocky attitude. It is one thing to think you are the best in the sport, but it is a complete other thing to express those same feelings to the world. A little humility goes a long way with winning people over.
9 Cristiano Ronaldo
The greatest footballer in the world today is Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. The member of Real Madrid from La Liga has won the Ballon D’Or award for being the best player in the world two seasons in a row. He has helped his national team improve on the world rankings each year, but for every fan of the talented player, there are just as many fans that hate his constant flopping and complaining on the pitch.
8 Kurt Busch
In auto racing, if you aren’t starting a fight, you’re not doing something right. Some of the biggest names in the history of the sport have been some of the most loved and hated drivers and in 2015, this fits Kurt Busch better than any other driver. In 2013, he made the Forbes list for being one of the most hated athletes in sports and that is a title that “The Outlaw” has no problem with. Several times, he has been the instigator with fights off the track and many other times, his actions on the track have led to confrontations instigated by other drivers. The hatred many drivers feel for him is easily surpassed by that of fans of NASCAR.
7 Tom Brady
There are so many things about Tom Brady that make fans want to him knock him out. Whether it is his role in the numerous alleged cheating incidents including the most recent “Deflategate” controversy that led to a four game suspension to start the 2015 season or his marriage to the amazingly gorgeous Giselle, hating Brady is something that many fans find easy. One of the best things that has ever come out of the hatred for Brady is the large number of internet memes that have actually turned out to be quite hilarious.
6 Floyd Mayweather Jr.
In our current generation of boxing, there isn’t a bigger star than Floyd Mayweather Jr. The brash undefeated world champion is fresh off a win against Manny Pacquiao where he ran around the ring and outclassed his opponent. His winning performance in that fight turned off many more fans worldwide, but it is his behavior outside the ring that has turned fans off from him for years. “Money” boasts about his purse at each fight which only helps to turn many fans away and his domestic abuse conviction in 2011 surely hasn’t helped either.
5 Lance Armstrong
For many years, Lance Armstrong was the face of cancer survivors worldwide. His battle with testicular cancer that also spread to his lungs, brain, and stomach was at the forefront of our attention and his fight back from recovery to win the biggest race in bicycling history, the Tour de France, was something we all watched with smiles on our face. Not only did he win the title one time following his battle with cancer, he won seven straight titles from 1999 through 2005, but those wins were stripped away in 2012.
4 Barry Bonds
The face of performance enhancing drugs in American sports is Barry Bonds, the former left handed home run masher from the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. Bonds was on his way to a Hall of Fame career before 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled for the home run title in 1998. It was all the attention that those players received that made many fans believe this was the time that Bonds decided to start doping. He never failed a drug test but his once guaranteed spot in the Hall of Fame in serious question.
3 LeBron James
King LeBron James was the man set to bring a world title to the city of Cleveland fresh out of high school. He came close and split town for the beautiful city of Miami and would instead help bring titles to South Beach. Many fans loved James until his egotistical “Decision” broadcast that allowed him to express his desire to play in Miami with Dwyane Wade and things have only gone downhill for the four time league MVP. Each time he touches the ball, he is scrutinized by the fans for every play where he is believed to have traveled or called for a non-existent foul.
2 Alex Rodriguez
The current New York Yankees slugger is in the top 10 in all time home run total and is having a remarkable 2015 season following his suspension for the entire 2014 season. For years, he has been one of the most hated men in all of sports because of his alleged drug use, but it wasn’t until he got caught up in the biogenesis case that also led to the suspension of players like former National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun. He did admit to taking performance enhancing drugs in 2009, but by this point, it was an assumption that most fans made on their own.
1 Michael Vick
When he was a member of the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick was the face of the franchise. He was supposed to be that player that brought the city its first title since the 1995 Atlanta Braves, but he just couldn’t grow up fast enough. The Pro Bowl quarterback was dynamic on the field and brought fans to their feet each week, but it was his actions off the field that made fans around the country burn his No. 7 jersey. He played a pivotal role in a dog fighting ring that sent him to prison and made many fans despise everything about him. He served his time in jail but to many fans, that is not enough. Years later, feelings still haven’t changed and many fans would still love to put him down.