Athletes are generally revered by fans but they can be disliked, too. While players like Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson tend to elicit positive reviews, other NFLers don't draw the same sentiments. Whether it's a spotty history off the field or just actions that paint them in a negative light while on the field, players find ways to be hated. Every story needs an antagonist, and without further adieu, here is a list highlighting each NFL team's biggest villain.
Each NFL team's biggest villain
New York Jets — Michael Vick
As long as Michael Vick is in the NFL, he’ll be the most hated player on whatever team he plays for. While Vick has paid his debt to society, the crimes he committed don’t just disappear. As recently as a month ago, activists created a petition to ban Vick from Jets training camp. The Vick hate isn’t going to subside any time soon.
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New England Patriots — Tom Brady
Tom Brady has it all. Super Bowl rings, a mansion and a supermodel wife are just a few of the things this Patriot boasts. It’s easy to see why the average fan can’t relate to the star quarterback and, in turn, would dislike Brady. With all of his success, Brady is either admired or envied. His inclusion in this piece is an ode to the latter.
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Buffalo Bills — Marcell Dareus
In less than a month, Marcell Dareus was arrested twice (on May 5 and June 3). The first incident involved the use of a controlled substance, while the latter had to do with drag racing. Dareus subsequently showed up to training camp and failed a conditioning test. While he was out getting in trouble with the law, Dareus clearly wasn’t preparing for training camp in what could be a defining season for his team. The last few months have certainly hurt his image.
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Miami Dolphins — Cortland Finnegan
Since he was a member of the Tennessee Titans, Finnegan has always been known to heckle opposing receivers. Sometimes, he takes things too far. For example, it’s tough to forget the corner’s fight with Andre Johnson, but he also baited and got an unsportsmanlike reaction from Josh Morgan in 2012 after a play at the end of a Week 3 contest that ended up costing Morgan’s team the game. Finnegan thrives on the hate.
(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
New York Giants — Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
While the majority of the football world was getting ready for the Super Bowl, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had to make things weird by talking about how he was contemplating retirement after the big game at 27 years old. Compound that with the fact that he failed to live up to high expectations in Philadelphia in 2012, and it’s easy to see why the athletic cornerback doesn’t have many fans.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Dallas Cowboys — Tony Romo
The truth is that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is actually very good overall. He typically posts impressive stat lines and seemingly always has his team in the playoff hunt. However, Romo has developed a reputation as a ‘choke artist’ and his signature late-game interceptions make him an easy target for fan ridicule. Romo’s a player that many love to hate, which is unfortunate because he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
But at the end of the day, he’s often ridiculed and is disliked by football fans—even ones in the Dallas area. Romo is seemingly always “in the wrong,” no matter what he does.
(AP Photo/LM Otero)
Washington Redskins — DeSean Jackson
Ever since he entered the NFL, DeSean Jackson has dazzled fans with flamboyant touchdown dances and arrogant high-steps. His antics rub some the wrong way—trotting backwards into the end zone on Sundays isn’t the most endearing thing an NFL player can do. Jackson also reportedly has ties to gangs, which makes it difficult to be a fan of his.
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Philadelphia Eagles — Riley Cooper
No matter what Riley Cooper’s teammates or coaches say, the fact that the Eagles player was caught on camera screaming a racial slur in public makes him an obvious villain. There’s no excusing Cooper’s use of the derogatory term and in a league as diverse as the NFL, Cooper’s words really have no place here.
(AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Green Bay Packers — Matt Flynn
In a meaningless Week 17 game against the Lions a few years ago, Matt Flynn looked like one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. After a whirlwind of poor performances, bloated contracts and roster cuts, Flynn is back in Green Bay as a second-string signal caller. He’s a villain because of the false hope he brought to multiple teams when the truth was that he was a below-average player who had one good game.
(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Chicago Bears — Jay Cutler
“Smoking” Jay Cutler makes Tony Romo look like one of the most loved players in NFL history. Cutler doesn’t cooperate with the media, seems to get injured at the wrong time every year and displays a general look of apathy when he’s on the field. Also, his interception-prone quarterbacking style is especially frustrating and it has cost the Bears many a contest.
He’s also got in the faces of his teammates and yelled at them on camera in the past, which isn’t really a great look.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Detroit Lions — Ndamukong Suh
A dirty player, Ndamukong Suh incurs countless fines and penalties. While he’s one of the league’s best at his position, Suh takes every opportunity to go after opposing players after the whistle has blown. The most famous incident of Suh’s career occurred in a game against the Packers, when the defensive lineman appeared to step on the head of Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith. As Fox Sports’ Mike Pereira said, “That’s not dirty, that’s filthy.”
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Minnesota Vikings — Kain Colter
Meet the man who may be responsible for the dismantling of amateurism in college football. Former Northwestern standout Kain Colter inspired his teammates to unionize in the interest of getting college players paid. Colter’s actions have indirectly affected the future of popular video game franchise EA Sports NCAA Football, which EA chose not to continue for this season because of the fact that college players are asking to be paid for the usage of their likenesses in the game. Gamers don’t like Colter much, that’s for sure. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Carolina Panthers — Derek Anderson
To understand why Derek Anderson is the biggest villain on the Carolina Panthers, look no further than his post-game tirade after a Monday Night blowout loss against the 49ers. Anderson barked at reporters that he “doesn’t go out there and laugh” when video of the signal caller on the sideline clearly showed him chuckling during the contest. In a bottom-line business like the NFL, laughing during blowout losses is frowned upon.
(AP Photo/Don Wright)
Atlanta Falcons — N/A
Falcons head coach Mike Smith runs a tight ship in Atlanta and tends to stay away from players with character issues. Finding a villain on the Falcons is tough because no one on the team has made any glaring errors over the course of their professional careers that would land them on this list. Osi Umenyiora was a consideration, but the case isn’t strong enough. There’s no villain on Atlanta’s team.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
New Orleans Saints — Jimmy Graham
Saints “pass catcher” (and I use that term loosely) Jimmy Graham finds himself on this list after he dragged out his contract negotiations throughout the entire offseason. It’s okay to demand money, but for Graham to ask arbitrators to change his position to wide receiver so that he could pocket some extra cash is a bit ridiculous. The Saints had to let go of a number of fan favorites, including Darren Sproles and Lance Moore, to make Graham’s big numbers work.
(AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Dashon Goldson
The NFL is working hard to cut down on league concussion totals, but some players’ actions have proven counterproductive. Safety Dashon Goldson has developed a reputation for being a headhunter, evidenced by the dirty hit he put on Saints rusher Darren Sproles in 2013. Goldson will need to find a way to avoid fines and stop going for headshots. Also, he’s known for his trash talking when on the field.
(AP Photo/Brian Blanco, File)
St. Louis Rams — Kenny Britt
After originally coming into the league with the promise of a bright future, Kenny Britt has turned into one hot mess. Britt’s had over nine run-ins with the law. And earlier this year, the immature posted an Instagram video of an obscene sexual encounter that he had. Britt may be a famous professional athlete, but he isn’t above the law.
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Seattle Seahawks — Richard Sherman
Fans either love or hate Richard Sherman. The Super Bowl champion cornerback graduated from Stanford with a degree in communications and does charity work in his local community. He’s an all-around great guy. However, his arrogant displays make him easy to get tired of. It seems as though every other day, he’s spouting off about how he’s better than a certain player at his position.
And his ongoing war of words with WR Michael Crabtree is beginning to get a bit old.
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers — Aldon Smith
For as good as he’s been on the field, Aldon Smith has been frustratingly immature off the field. He’s twice been arrested for driving under the influence. And, most recently, he was detained and arrested at an airport after allegedly insinuating that he had a bomb. Smith is going to likely start off the 2014 season serving a lengthy suspension because of his transgressions and it’s unfortunate to see such a talented player throwing away a good part of his season because he can’t keep it together off the field.
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals — Carson Palmer
It seems that no matter what he does, Carson Palmer incurs hate from somewhere. Palmer was known for being a prima donna in Cincinnati and there were even rumors that Bengals fans trashed the signal caller’s lawn on No. 9’s way out of town. Quarterbacks of Palmer’s caliber typically stay with one team, but the signal caller has been on three different ballclubs in four years.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers — Ben Roethlisberger
Of all of the players on this list, Ben Roethlisberger has one of the most convoluted off the field stories. The star quarterback has made a name for himself on the field with multiple Super Bowl titles, but he’s been accused of sexual assault twice. Roethlisberger’s checkered past makes him an easy add to the piece.
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Baltimore Ravens — Ray Rice
Up until this offseason, Ray Rice was one of the NFL’s most loved players. He routinely gave back to his hometown of New Rochelle, NY, and his play on the field was solid with the exception of a down year in 2013. However, Rice recently beat up on his wife and has since become a pariah in many circles. He’s surely a villain now.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals — Adam “Pacman” Jones
Pacman Jones has had an inordinate number of run-ins with the police, mostly near the beginning of his NFL career. Now, he’s quieted down and carved out a role as a solid member of the Bengals’ backfield, but he’s still the butt of many jokes because of his past transgressions. For example, Ludacris recently posted a picture on Instagram making light of Jones’ neck injury. Jones wasn’t too happy about it.
(Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns — Johnny Manziel
“Johnny Football” has caused quite a stir without even taking a regular season snap for the Browns. After a college career full of recruiting violations, questionable decision making off the field and stellar play in the NCAA’s best conference, Johnny Manziel has taken his act to the NFL. He’s partied hard this offseason, which has given fans some pause. If he plays well on Sundays, all will be forgiven.
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Indianapolis Colts — Trent Richardson
Colts running back Trent Richardson was downright awful last season and he hasn’t lived up to the hype of being a high draft pick. Watching Richardson stumble during a dismal 2013 campaign, especially after the Colts traded a first round pick to acquire the rusher, made him an irritating example of high expectations not yet validated.
It may not be due to a lack of effort, but it certainly appears as such. Colts fans are not happy with him at the current time.
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Tennessee Titans — Bernard Pollard
I’m shocked that Bernard Pollard isn’t a New York Jet. He’s the one who injured Tom Brady back in 2008, injured Rob Gronkowski’s ankle a few years ago, injured Wes Welker during the receiver’s time in New England and knocked Stevan Ridley out cold during a playoff contest. A player who causes as many injuries as Pollard causes isn’t going to be loved. He’s a true villain, especially to opposing wide receivers.
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars — Justin Blackmon
It’s tough to say whether people dislike Justin Blackmon or feel bad for him. On July 24, he was arrested for the third time and all three arrests have included substance abuse. Whether it’s a DUI or possession of marijuana, Blackmon just keeps finding himself in trouble with law enforcement. Instead of being one of the only bright spots on a poor Jaguars team, the receiver is suspended indefinitely.
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Houston Texans — Brian Cushing
Any player suspected of using performance enhancing drugs isn’t going to be a fan favorite for very long. Athletes, like Cushing, who abuse substances compromise the integrity of the NFL. Cushing’s PED incident and subsequent suspension is very far in the past, but it’s still an unfortunate stain on his otherwise solid career.
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Oakland Raiders — Matt Schaub
Before the 2013 season, Matt Schaub was a highly-regarded quarterback known for his consistency. However, last season, he became a turnover machine. After starting off the year 2-0, Schaub lost eight games in a row and was ultimately yanked in favor of Case Keenum. Things got so bad that a Texans fan went to Schaub’s home and berated him for playing so terribly. Fittingly, Schaub’s a Raider now.
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs — Kyle Williams
In the 2011 NFC Championship game, Kyle Williams cemented his status as a villain in the league and was blasted by Niners fans on Twitter. Filling in at punt returner for an injured Ted Ginn, Williams muffed two punts and his team ended up losing the game. Granted, San Francisco could have taken advantage of more scoring opportunities and won the game, but Williams’ gaffes on national television put him in the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons.
He spent the entirety of last season on injured reserve. And until he makes plays in the league again, he’ll remain in the doghouse.
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos — Aqib Talib
Back in 2011, then-Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib allegedly fired a handgun at his sister’s boyfriend. He found himself in hot water with both authorities and the NFL, but now he’s a contributing member on a team in playoff contention. Even still, it’s evident that he’s not the most well-liked player in the league, with Steve Smith telling him to “ice up” after a game last season.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
San Diego Chargers — Manti Te’o
Manti Te’o has yet to shake the fictitious girlfriend narrative that made him infamous during the draft process. He made Forbes’ list of the NFL’s most disliked players, despite the fact that he’s been relatively quiet (and mediocre) since entering the league. Lennay Kekua will eventually become the answer to a very good trivia question, but for right now, Te’o is disliked around the league.