Some of the guys make the list because they are extremely talented. Others make the list because they have cheated the game or have been disrespectful toward fellow athletes. Yet, there are some who join the list because of disgusting off-the-field actions.
All the guys played in the 2016 season and some are continuing their playoff run. Some of these guys deserve the hate, others are unfairly critiqued by fellow players and fans. But that’s life in the NFL. That’s what these guys signed up for. Fans are so passionate. That passion turns into a love and even more hate. You can’t blame these fans. There’s a 24/7 cycle of news coming from the league and its players now show up on every station with their growing endorsement lists.
It’s easy for people to express disgust toward those in the league making millions. Why not? Part of what makes the NFL so fun is rooting against some guys and hoping your team can throw them to the ground. The big hits are so much better when it’s against someone you despise. That’s probably why a handful of quarterbacks makes the list. They’re the main decision makers on the team, so, it’s no surprise they receive a good chunk of the spotlight.
Regardless of how much some of these guys are hated, some are more tolerable than others. You could have a beer with some of the guys that top the list, but you’d never want to chill with guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Adrian Peterson or Richie Incognito, who starts the list.
15 RICHIE INCOGNITO
The critics have really backed off Richie Incognito compared to what it was like in 2013 when the Dolphins suspended him. In 2014 the NFL released a report that found Incognito had been part of a group of guys who harassed Jonathan Martin with racial slurs and vicious sexual taunts about his mother and sister by three teammates. No one really pays much attention to those guys, so, Richie is able to stay under the radar. Although his actions make him one of the guys that deserve to be hated, he really has been able to avoid the national spotlight. But no one should be tolerated when they’re dishing out racial slurs.
Plus, players have a history of knocking Incognito for his play. Though it was in 2009, a Sporting News poll from fellow players named Incognito the dirtiest player in the league.
14 BEN ROETHLISBERGER
It somehow gets lost from time to time, but Ben Roethlisberger has been called out often for having a disgusting off-the-field character. He’s been accused of sexual assault twice. He was even suspended in 2010 for violating the league’s conduct policy. That was decided by Roger Goodell a week after prosecutors decided not to charge Roethlisberger in a case involving a 20-year-old college student who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub.
But after getting married in 2011 things have clmed down for Roethlisberger. And like most actions from pro athletes, after a couple of years everyone seems to forgive and forget. He hasn’t been involved in any incidents and has been a good veteran face for the league. He still makes the list, but he’s become more tolerable in recent years.
13 ADRIAN PETERSON
Adrian Peterson joins the long list of athletes that have committed inexcusable actions, yet still is beloved by millions. Peterson was suspended in 2009 because of child abuse allegations. Pictures that surfaced were absolutely awful. Roger Goodell said in a letter to the Vikings that there were “visible swelling, marks and cuts” on the child’ ankles, limbs, back, buttocks and genitals left by Peterson's weapon of choice, a tree branch, or "switch," for the severity of the penalty.
It doesn’t matter how much this guy means to the Vikings or how good he has been, Peterson should not get to slide past this child abuse incident. Abusing a defenseless child in any sense is one of the worst things a person can do. Peterson deserves to have more haters calling him out, but due to his star status, the running back still is looked up to by millions of fans.
12 TOM BRADY
Part of the reason Tom Brady joins the list is pure jealousy. The guy is so good that it makes him tough to tolerate. Unless you’re a New England fan or you have Brady on your fantasy team, you hate this guy more than anyone else in the league. It’s tough not to. The guy has won four Super Bowls and doesn’t seem to be cooling down after 14 seasons as a starter. And in that stretch the Patriots have been known to bully opponents with high-scoring wins. So, it’s natural that many fans feel they have been wronged.
But even for the people who ignore Brady’s hugely successful career, the scandals can’t be ignored. Spygate and Deflategate give Brady’s critics all the ammunition they need. And there is an entire league of critics. What else can you expect? A long list of accolades mixed with his growing list of condemnations make him an easy target.
11 NDAMUKONG SUH
Ndamukong Suh came into the league playing like he wanted to go down as the dirtiest player in history. He was so bad that in 2012, he was named the NFL’s least-liked player. Sporting News conducted a poll of fellow players, who named Suh the dirtiest player in the league. Suh has kicked guys, stepped on them and even has gone as far as essentially body slamming a guy. He’s been fined $216,875 by the league.
What makes things worse?
Suh is really good and he gets paid really well. He’s one of the highest paid players in the league and is among the best defensive talents in the NFL. He was one of the biggest free-agent pickups ever in 2015. He’s calmed down from his early-career antics, which is why he’s more tolerable than some guys on the list. But he’s still not dropping that rep that makes him hated.
10 ROB GRONKOWSKI
Rob Gronkowski makes the most hated list because of his frat-boy antics. Gronk is scrutinized because he’s known for partying. Gronk was even the focus for Family Guy’s most recent episode that makes fun of how the tight end parties all the time and never declines a sponsorship. “My manager said if I don’t, I won’t go to heaven,” his character explains. But many around the league love Gronkowski. He’s done amazing stuff on the field, and off. A recent ABC story shows why. Gronkowski surprised a teen battling cancer with a video message.
But a lot of people have typed “Rob Gronkowski party” into Google, and that displays pages of images that you’d expect to see on a frat guys Facebook page. Being a star in the NFL makes you a million-dollar businessman, and Gronk is creating an image that is anything other than professional.
9 JAY CUTLER
Jay Cutler may be a guy that is hated more in his own city than he is by the rest of the league. It could be partly because he hasn’t done much to garner league-wide attention. He hasn’t won a Super Bowl or made any type of run in the postseason. Fans in Chicago tend to criticize him for being whiny and not seeming to care. That’s not good for a guy that’s paid as much as he is. And fans of the Bears have not been afraid to voice their hatred. But Cutler is more tolerable for a lot of the NFL fan base. He may not be loved like some of the big name quarterbacks are, but he isn’t hated as much as other guys on this list.
8 ODELL BECKHAM JR.
There’s been a lot of talk about how the young wide receiver needs to mature, so it’s blatantly obvious that he’s going to have a crowd of haters following each move. Odell Beckham Jr. has been among the league’s top wide receivers since joining the league. He’s also been one of the most scrutinized.
Like some of the guys on this list, Beckham became a figure to hate because of how good he was. In his rookie season, he became the first player to put up 75 receptions, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also broke the rookie record for the most average receiving yards per game. Not to mention the fact he’s been the only player in history to go three-straight seasons with 70-plus receptions, 1,000-plus receiving yards and 10-plus touchdowns in the first three seasons of his career.
But his recent antics make him one of the least tolerable guys in the league. According to an ESPN report, he has been fined at least six times for infractions, including excessive celebration, unsportsmanlike conduct, verbal abuse of an official and a uniform violation. He’s also received a lot of attention for the hole he allegedly punched into a wall after the Giants recent playoff loss. Oh, and a week before it was publicized that he was out partying a week before out in Miami.
After all this, it’s fitting that he’s one of the NFL’s most hated and least tolerable athletes.
7 CAM NEWTON
For all those who get ticked off because someone throws up their elbow and puts their head down, Cam Newton is a rival. Fans love seeing celebrations from their beloved athlete. But when it’s the opposition, it’s easy to get pissed off. It’s even easier to get mad when that little celebration turns into a national meme. Cam Newton is a great athlete and a great face for the league. However, anytime some tween starts to dab, it’s impossible not to get mad at the NFL quarterback.
Plus, anytime a guy is drafted No. 1 overall, there’s going to be a good chunk of people rooting against the young star. Once success begins to come, and for Cam that came very early (he broke the all-time NFL rookie records for passing and rushing yards), people begin to hope for the worst and people begin to hate.
But even with all the success Newton has seen, it’s not surprising this guy is on the NFL’s top hated list. He’s been an MVP, has taken his team to a Super Bowl and more importantly, he is a crazy good runner and has a great arm too.
6 COLIN KAEPERNICK
Colin Kaepernick was flying under the radar before this year. As surprising as it has been, Kaepernick’s stardom has risen just as much as the number of his critics. His cause was noble. No one should knock Kaepernick’s passion for the Black Lives Matter movement.
But the way he went about his protest was controversial, and he must have known that going in. It's drilled into everyone’s head early in life that you must stand during the National Anthem. So when he didn't, a lot of people erupted with hate toward Kaepernick. There were some, even in the military community, that voiced support for the quarterback. But an overwhelmingly large group of people began saying what Kaepernick doing was an embarrassment for the game.
5 JAMES HARRISON
It’d almost be more concerning if James Harrison didn’t have as many enemy’s given the time he’s spent in the league. Especially with the presence he’s brought to the Steelers defensive front. If you’ve ever seen a video of this guy working out, it’s obvious why guys in the league and fans alike tend to dislike Harrison (unless you’re a Pittsburgh fan). Besides that, Harrison just doesn’t fit the mold of a champion. After his team won the Super Bowl in 2006 and in 2009, Harrison decided to pass on the team visit to the White House. No matter your political views, who passes up an invite from POTUS?
Harrison has always seemed to play with a chip on his shoulder. Maybe it’s because the star defensive talent went undrafted in the 2002 draft. Maybe it’s for other reasons. Regardless, Harrison is not one of the league’s favorite athletes. Since 2010, the guy has been fined $150,000 and plays his own game. A game that fans and players tend to have issues with.
4 RICHARD SHERMAN
When you’re a cornerback in the NFL, you better be talking smack about shutting down your opponent. Being the top CB means week in and week out your going against the best receivers in the league. So, that smack talk is going to create a lot of enemies from your fellow players, along with the fans watching from afar. Since entering the league, no other player has recorded as many interceptions or defended passes as Richard Sherman. He’s gotten in a lot of guys ways. That’s caused a lot of negativity and hatred directed at Sherman. And a lot of that should be attributed to his ability to make big plays mixed with his sense for trash talking. So, you’re either on the side that loves his confrontation with Tom Brady, or against Sherman asking the Patriots star after a loss “You mad, bro?”
3 AARON RODGERS
Again, we welcome one of the guys who is hated because of his talent. Aaron Rodgers has been talked about as one of the best quarterback in the league. But that’s not all. There’s a growing number of, primarily women, that were against Rodgers because of events that transpired following a recent season of The Bachelorette. Rodgers’ brother, Jordan, was the winner and kept speaking of the conflict with his superstar NFL quarterback brother.
Now, Aaron Rodgers has made a lot of enemies from his skill alone. But with the recent nonsense publicized on The Bachelorette, Rodgers has gained more female, non-NFL loving haters than anyone can imagine.
Aaron Rodgers, in most NFL circles is disliked because of his skill. It’s normal for a quarterback that good. But his family issues brought up on national television creates a large group of reality-TV loving haters.
2 TRAVIS KELCE
Another guy who’s very tolerable, but he joined the reality TV scene which has hurt some of his credibility with a good chunk of NFL fans. Unlike Rodgers, though, Travis Kelce dove head first into his own television shows. Entering the world of Bachelor-type shows makes him an easy target for hate. The show is called Catching Kelce and it is described as the sports version of The Bachelor. If a quarterback did this instead of a tight end, he’d be laughed out of the league. Can you imagine if Tom Brady had his own TV show? Belichick would have kicked him off the team before the first episode began taping. To be honest, Kelce probably isn’t more hated because not many NFL fans were tuned into “E!” for the seven-episode season.
1 DAK PRESCOTT
Leading the way at quarterback for one of the NFL’s most hated teams opens the flood gates of critics and haters for Dak Prescott. Plus, he’s winning. Leading a team to the playoffs makes Prescott someone people are going to hate. Even though the superstar rookie lost in the first round, he led the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
That’s a great season for a veteran quarterback. It’s unreal for a rookie. This has given Prescott a huge following of new fans, even outside of Dallas. That, however, has brought a wave of critics. A third-round quarterback shouldn’t be able to lead the Cowboys to a two-loss regular season. Right?
Well, Prescott proved to be worthy of his spot in front of Tony Romo. A lot of fans are most likely very enthusiastic that Romo was replaced by this young star. But a lot of fans are also fuming at the thought of a rookie quarterback on a Cowboys team that will no doubt be among the league’s best for the years to come.