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.
NFL's Biggest Villains
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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.