Sports fans don’t really need a reason to hate a team. More often than not, the main reason to root against one team is because they’re aren’t your team, and everyone, more or less, is against you. It’s almost as much fun cheering against a team as it is backing one to win. It’s wonderful when your club comes from behind to win, but if your squad just isn’t that good, it’s fun to watch favorites go down dramatically in flames.
Just look at this Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks are certainly not the most popular team in the league, and clearly not one with a particularly historic legacy. However, most of the country, save for the Northeast, rooted for them against the New England Patriots because a lot of people hate the Patriots.
Those two teams are hardly alone, as there are plenty of unlikable clubs in the league, with some many different factors at play. The Cleveland Browns aren’t at all that good, and haven’t been for some time, so they may be flying under the radar a bit. When Johnny Manziel came along late in the year though, there were plenty cheering against the Browns simply because of him (also their fans are pretty rough if you’ve ever been to a game at Paul Brown Stadium).
Realistically, every single team in the league has a slew of fans that hate them, except many Jacksonville, as they are just simply too bad to hate. But even teams like the Bills, who have been perennially so terrible, were once great and once plagued legions of Dolphins fans, so they’re going to be hated too.
For these purposes, however, we’re looking at the right here, right now. Hatred fluctuates based on players and recent success, based on ownership and coaches, based on attitudes and prevailing personalities. With that in mind, here are the top ten most hated teams in the National Football League.
10 New York Jets
The Jets used to be much higher on this list, but it’s totally hard to completely hate a team that is really bad, and they sure are hapless. Still, there are many fans around the country that are happy to see the Jets fail, because of all the media coverage of the team. Rex Ryan was far too boastful and cocky for his own good, but he is out as their coach. Even Jets fans hate their own team, flying banners and putting up billboards to call for the firing of their general manager. Also, their stadium isn’t the least bit hospitable to opposing fans.
9 Indianapolis Colts
When you secretly move your team from one city to another in the middle of the night, you’re going to be hated for a long time. What’s more, all those who wear the new uniform and logo, however innocent they are from those fated events, will also be hated. Thus Robert Irsay, former Baltimore Colts and Indianapolis Colts owner, and now his son Jim, were hated all throughout the Maryland area. Irsay lied to fans, moved his team under the cover of darkness, and, for 12 years, Baltimore was without a football franchise. Indy even took their name and these Colts from the Midwest will never be anything but hated to those fans on the east coast.
8 Philadelphia Eagles
These are the fans that famously booed Santa Claus, so how can you not want to root against them? They seem to always have vocal, controversial players, while consistently underachieving. Over the last couple years, everyone was ready to crown Chip Kelly as an offensive genius, except the Eagles didn’t make the playoffs this year and lost at home last year in their only postseason game. Of course being in a division with the Cowboys is definitely going to get a lot of people against you, but like Jets fans, the Eagles followers will happily boo their own side too.
7 Oakland Raiders
Sure, they have been an afterthought in the league for a while, but just wait until they are good again (if ever) and watch how quickly you'll root against them. Even this year, when they were on their way to their first win against the Chiefs in primetime, they almost blew the game with a dumb penalty. Their passionate fan base hasn’t had much to cheer for, but the tough and reckless legacy built by Al Davis still runs through Oakland with lofty and simplistic phrases like ‘Just Win Baby’ and ‘ Pride and Poise.’
6 Chicago Bears
The Bears have been around forever and their heated rivalry with the Packers runs nearly 100 years now. It seems when they are not overachieving, they’re completely underachieving. The Bears recently parted with Marc Trestman, whose uneventful tenure wasted the talents of a great offense led by a very unlikable Jay Cutler. Still, the Bears seem to be coasting on the greatness set forth in 1985, where a historic defense dominated the season. What’s strange is that every great defense today has to be compared to the ‘85 Bears, but no one lives up. Though for some reason when we talk about offenses today, while we all accept how it’s easier to pass, no one talks about how it also means playing defense was easier back then. The Bears were also memorialized in SNL and that skit is really wearing thin.
5 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers famously have the best travelled fan base in the league and they proudly wave their ‘terrible towels,’ which means they don’t exactly endear themselves to anyone. Proud owners of one of the greatest defenses in the history of the league, the Steelers have six Super Bowl victories and play in one of the most competitive and physical divisions in the league. So they have a lot of haters. What’s more, Mike Tomlin, who once tried to impede the progress of Jacoby Jones on a kick return, and Ben Roethlisberger aren’t exactly the sunniest of people.
4 Seattle Seahawks
Seeming out of nowhere, they became a supremely talented squad and they are not quiet about it. From Pete Carroll to Richard Sherman to Doug Baldwin, these players are not humble winners. They’re a fantastic team, but it’s not really a reason to adore them. They have more than a couple players who have been caught using steroids, they have a gum-chewing coach who runs up the score, a back who doesn’t talk to the media and grabs his crotch, and a bunch of other players who don’t stop trash-talking.
3 Washington's Football Team
Washington has suddenly become one of the most hated teams in the league and it has nothing to do with their on the field performance. It has everything to do with Dan Snyder. The Washington owner has defiantly stood tall in the face of progress and decency, refusing to change the offensive name of their team despite protests from around the country. He has tried to show that there are those who support the name as it is, but those claims are tenuous at best. They are also a pretty dysfunctional team and might have destroyed RGIII’s career.
2 Dallas Cowboys
What’s not to hate about a club that boasts they are biggest and the best? Everything they do in Dallas is larger than life, from their vocal and visible owner to their massive stadium to their fans who proudly flaunt their past greatness. They are ‘America’s Team’ and they consistently get the highest ratings across the country due to their large and passionate fan base. The star shines brighter on Dallas than anywhere else, which is why they are so fun to hate.
1 New England Patriots
Recently minted as the most hated team is the New England Patriots, a club that has been consistently great over the last decade. They are led by a grumpy and poorly-dressed (and brilliant) head coach who is easy to dislike and a Golden Boy quarterback who is easy to envy (and thus hate). What’s more, they have been accused (and sometimes proven) to be cheaters. They seem to always win their division, always make the playoffs, and always go deep. The Patriots have this quiet smugness to them, as they’re not particularly vocal, they are rather well-disciplined, but often run up the score, look to crush teams, and are more than happy to show everyone that they can win a bunch of different ways. Someday Belichick and Brady will retire and for many it can’t come soon enough.