Hate and love are perhaps the two strongest emotions humans can perceive. While generally mutually exclusive, love and hate can often intersect. Sports does a decent job of combining the two. There are certain players across the NFL that evoke more of an emotional response than other players. Certain players just make us feel warm and cozy inside, while other players evoke the rage. Take for example, the recently retired Calvin Johnson. The guy was clean as a whistle on and off the field. He played the game at the highest level. He was the kind of guy you just had to love. Then there are players like James Harrison. You'd be hard pressed to find people who love that guy outside of Pittsburg.
But what about the players that elicit emotions on both sides of the spectrum. The league is riddled with these types of guys. It's the fandom in us that brings the rage while feeling the love. It's the desire to cheer and give praise to our teams that brings love while intensifying the venom. Let's have a look at the players across the league that best exemplify these twisted emotions.
16 Love To Hate: LeSean McCoy
There's something about every player that plays for a Rex Ryan team that just doesn't sit well. LeSean McCoy was brought over from the Eagles after Chip Kelly had a fire sell with the team. I find it hard to believe that anyone outside of the frigid city of Buffalo could love someone on that team. However, LeSean McCoy, being a terrifying threat at the running back position, brings that odd joy of hatred. People across the country couldn't be happier than witnessing LeSean's underachieving performances. To make matters worse for LeSean, he does have the baggage of tipping a server 20 cent after a meal. LeSean made over $7 million dollars that year. So when you add up plays for Rex Ryan, tips terribly, and plays like a Pro Bowler it equals to a player we couldn't love to hate more. Go LeSean! I hate you!
15 Hate To Love: Dak Prescott
During Dallas' bye week Dak Prescott went fishing. He went fishing. Right now Dak has the world at his fingertips. He is the steal of the 2016 NFL Draft, and well on his way to taking the Cowboys to the playoffs. He could have done anything. But Dak went fishing with his family. How can you not love Dak? I'll tell you how. Dak plays for the Cowboys. Yeah, they might be America's Team, but only if your America is the state of Texas. The Cowboys had great teams in basically every decade since the existence of the NFL. It's disgusting. But Dak is such a darling. He's on track to break all sorts of records for rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. Dak broke Tom Brady's record for most passing attempts without an interception during a rookie year. The Cowboys drafted Dak in the fourth round! If the draft was done over, Dak would probably be a top-five pick! What's not to love? He plays for the Cowboys!
14 Love To Hate: Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill was drafted with the eigth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Expectations are higher for first rounders, especially quarterbacks. The Miami Dolphins, at the time, were coming off the Chad Henne era. To say the least, it was a painful era. Chad Henne was pretty much the epitome of having a third string quarterback at the helm of the offense. So, when first rounder Ryan Tannehill was brought aboard he was supposed to be the savior. He is the most recent quarterback selected by the Dolphins in the first round since Dan Marino in 1983. Ever heard of him? The pressure couldn't be higher. So far Tannehill has not delivered a winning season. Each year the Dolphins fail to reach their potential the fan base grows more and more impatient. The Boo Birds are becoming more and more frequent at Dolphin games. Tannehill's inability to escape the pocket and make plays makes him a guy you just love to hate. Go fins.
13 Hate To Love: Rob Gronkowski
What did the best team over the last 10 years really need when they selected Rob Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft? Did they really need the best tight end of all time? Were they the team who really deserved the best player in the NFL outside of a few big name quarterbacks? No. The answer is no. But as fate would have the Patriots got him anyways. Did the greatest quarterback of all time really need to be paired with the best tight end of all time? In a league with 31 other NFL teams trying to figure out how to beat the Patriots season after season did this really have to happen? The Patriots, I'm sure, would have done just fine without Gronk. They didn't need a six foot six inch 265 pound guy that doubles as a wide receiver. They didn't need it! Oh well I suppose. We will all just have to sit back and watch Tom and Gronk shred the league for another 100 years.
12 Love To Hate: Richie Incognito
The "bad boy" of the NFL himself. The ring leader of the "bully gate" scandal. The recipient of the NFL's "Dirtiest" player award. The two-time Pro Bowl guard for the Buffalo Bills. I think I covered most of Richie's titles. He'll spit on you. He'll punch you during and after the play. He will assault you at parties. He will fight you in the locker room. Richie is the kind of guy you just totally love to hate. No one will ever blame you for hating him either. He is the perfect hate punching bag. With all of that baggage Richie still manages to be a very productive player in the league. Over the last few years, he's even managed to stay out of the "dirty" player headlines. Maybe he and Rex Ryan have weekly anger issues meetings. Either way Richie, we hate ya' and we're proud of it.
11 Hate To Love: Reggie Bush
Reggie Bush is a perplexing player. Reggie is the former Heisman Trophy winner for his stellar playing days at the University of Southern California. So, we love him. Reggie dated Kim Kardashian. So, we hate him. Reggie possesses superhuman athletic skills like top notch running speed and the ability to stop on a dime. So we love him. But Reggie never finishes a season without getting injured along the way. So, we hate him. Reggie is a really good guy who will one day grace our television screens with captivating sports analysis and remarks. So, we love you Reggie. But Reggie dated Kim Kardashian and rubbed it in our faces on a reality show. And Kim Kardashian is with Kanye West. The good news is Kanye says he is moving to Canada. So that's good. We love you Reggie, but we do hate you too.
10 Love To Hate: Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the NFL. Unfortunately, for 31 other NFL teams not named the Pittsburg Steelers Antonio Brown only plays for one team. So, more often than not fans are subjected to Antonio's dazzling skills as he torches your team's defenses Sunday after Sunday. To make matters worse, Antonio is tiny. It's not like playing against Calvin Johnson who is obviously going to destroy anyone he lines up against. Antonio relies on his speed and uncanny super human instincts to carve opposing secondaries. Three of the last four seasons Brown has caught balls for over 1,500 yards. That is silly. Then, and this is the worst part, when Antonio Brown proceeds to score on you he will then follow in the famous footsteps of one Miley Cyrus and twerk his way into our living rooms. And for that Antonio, we hate you.
9 Hate To Love: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is an extremely rare type of player. At any given time in the NFL there are around three-five elite quarterbacks. I'm talking about Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, and Drew Brees kind of elite. These are guys that could consistently win games on their own. They never needed a great defense or strong running game. Although, some had both. I include Aaron Rodgers on this list. These type of athletes are what makes watching football so fun. The aerial attack they execute so well makes football the greatest sport ever. And unfortunately for about 28 other teams we have to witness elite quarterback play from the other sideline. And that's why we hate to love you. Also, if you are the Green Bay Packers you are fortunate enough to have gone from one Hall of Fame quarterback to another with no gap in between. It's not fair! We love you Aaron Rodgers, but it hurts so bad.
8 Love To Hate: Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston, you were one of the most excited players to watch during your days at Florida State. Your sideline antics, and your ability to put your team on your back, and win game after game made for very fun Saturdays. You are a Heisman Trophy winner and you led the Seminoles to a National Championship victory. We even had a nice giggle when you stole crab legs from that grocery store. Unfortunately, you've also given us plenty of reasons to no like you very much. Some of us might even enjoy the disdain we have for you. Like that time you stood up and your lunch table and yelled, "Cluck her right in the cat." But you chose different words for "cluck" and "cat." Way to be a positive role model for kids who look up to you. Or how about that girl you "allegedly" raped. It cost FSU about $1 million to pay the girl off. Have you ever watched her interviews Jameis? You should be ashamed. Somehow the NFL still puts you on a pedestal. I wonder why the NFL ratings are down. Hmmmm.... And that is why you are a joy to hate.
7 Hate To Love: Odell Beckham Jr.
Ugh, Odell Beckham Jr. you are so annoying. But you are freaking awesome. You act like such a clown. But you catch balls with two fingers. You nearly knock yourself unconscious with the kicker's practice net. But you are one of the best receivers ever, and you've barely played three seasons. Odell, you bleach part of your hair blond and you look like a skunk. But you have over 3,400 yards receiving in two and half seasons. You then kiss and ultimately propose to an inanimate object (the kickers net) on the sideline for media attention. You're such a goon. But you are one of the funnest players to ever watch play the game. You cry on the sidelines when you are not playing well. I'll repeat that. You cry on the sidelines during NFL games. Odell... we want to love you, but you are making it so hard.
6 Love To Hate: Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant you are a cry baby. Dez you are the epitome of a "diva" wide receiver. When Dez Bryant was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys the Cowboys knew they had something special on their hands. So special that they footed the bill for round the clock twenty four seven security guard/babysitters to keep an eye on the always dangerous never predictable Mr. Bryant. If Dez Bryant did not play football he would need to be involved in something like boxing or MMA fighting. The guy has a non-stop motor that needs some sort of violent/aggressive outlet. Fortunately for Dez, this combination leads to a pretty great football player. Other than his skills as a football player, there is very little to like about Dez and plenty to hate. I think the nation would agree with me in my love for watching Dez have a temper tantrum on the sidelines at least a few times a season. Dez also happens to play for the Cowboys, the most loved/hated team ever.
5 Hate To Love: Andrew Luck
The golden boy of the NFL. He is the greatest QB prospect to come out of the college ranks since Peyton Manning and John Elway before him. When NFL scouts think of a prototype quarterback they think of Andrew Luck. He is six feet and four inches tall making him tall enough to survey the field and see over the heaping giants that block for him. He is 240 pounds making him durable enough to take the pounding from opposing quarterback killers when the heaping giants don't do their jobs properly. To narrow down why it is difficult to love Andrew Luck one needs to reflect on the situation that occurred in which the Indianapolis Colts were able to select him with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. In short, the Colts tanked the season. Yeah, Peyton Manning was out for the year, but the Colts did little to salvage the season. Instead they had a guy by the name of Curtis Painter under center. And Curtis Painter did what the Colts knew Curtis Painter was capable of doing. He wins two games. The Colts would go 2-14 that season insuring they would be the first team picking golden boy, Andrew Luck.
4 Love To Hate: Richard Sherman
"I was making sure everyone knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver. And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver, that's what happens. I appreciate that he knows that now." Those were only some of Richard Sherman's choice words after the Seahawks bested the Forty Niners in the NFC Championship game. This was right after the game. This is a professional athlete rubbing the victory into the other team's face. I have no problem with trash talking during games. It is just part of the competitive arena. However, being a sore winner is also a thing. For Sherman's information, Crabtree is well on his way to a Pro Bowl this year after corralling nearly 600 yards and six touchdowns through the midway point in this season. Sherman went to Stanford too. I guess they don't teach etiquette at Stanford.
3 Hate To Love: Tony Romo
I guess the worst thing about Tony Romo is that he plays for the Cowboys of Dallas. Tony is just such a good guy though. I mean he dated Jessica Simpson. What's not to love about that? Tony is currently dealing with the tail end of his 1,000th injury as a member of the Cowboys. Since the beginning of the season and Tony's billionth injury, a young man by the name of Dak Prescott and another young man named, Ezekial "check out my bare midriff" Elliot, have stolen the show in Dallas. Tony has been all but forgotten. The only time Tony is mentioned is when they ask him if he will be okay serving as Dak's backup. To which Tony replies, "sure, that'd be great." See, he is such a good guy. Tony's injury riddle career is surely dwindling to a close, but our conflicting love for Tony's great plays and on-field swagger will never die.
2 Love To Hate: Cam Newton
Cam "cry baby" Newton tops the players we love to hate for a plethora of reasons. 'Member when he would put his little blankie over his head when things weren't going well? That was one of my favorite things about Sundays. Cam is clearly the most athletically gifted player to ever play the quarterback position. He is equally the biggest prima donna to ever grace the field as well. Cam's latest grievance is the amount of hits he is taking. Cam stated that he would like to sit and have a cup of tea with the NFL Commissioner and discuss, nay complain, for more penalty flags to be thrown concerning Cam's misfortunes. If you get an opportunity, I recommend checking out the press conference whereupon Cam publicly announces this matter. He is dressed like a cartoon pimp from the 1970s. Cam you are fun to watch, but equally easy to hate. Play on pimp.
1 Hate To Love: Tom Brady
Thomas Winthrop Archibald Charleston Brady III was born of elite aristocracy in the late 20th century. That's not actually his full name, but it might as well be. I hate you Tom Brady. But I love you. Tom plays the game of football as the game of football should be played, except when he's playing with the balls too much and deflating them. Tom brings the energy to the field like very few quarterbacks before him. I remember Dan Marino used to yell and scream at his teammates to get them fired up too. Tom's ability to never really have a "bad game" is unearthly. The guy brings his best every single Sunday. I can't think of another more consistent quarterback than Tom. And it disgusts me. Tom is like 55 years old, or it seems because he's been playing forever, and he shows no sighs of slowing down. Tom's win percentage is above 75 percent for his career. That's just silly. It's silly! If you don't have Tom Brady on your team then your chances of reaching the AFC Championship game over the last 15 years are almost cut in half. We love you Tom, but it hurts. Go away.