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Hatred. We all have it, whether we admit it or not.
As sports fans, we’re fueled by hatred. There wouldn’t be rivalries if it weren’t for hatred. We wouldn’t get so emotional after big games, win or lose, if it weren’t for hatred of the opponent.
This week, two of the world’s most hated athletes have spent time in the Boston area.
Tuesday at the Garden, the NBA kicked off their regular season by debuting the Miami Heat’s “new big 3,” led by former Cavalier, LeBron James. LBJ “took his talents to South Beach” over the summer, announcing the move in a self-promoting, ego-boosting, hour-long “LeBron-a-thon,” aired on ESPN. Since then, “King James” has taken loads of heat for it, and not just from scorned Cavs fans.
This Sunday at Gillette, ESPN’s other golden boy, Brett Favre, will hobble his way out onto the football field to take on the Pats. Favre, who has retired 17 times now, give or take, is another “all about me” guy. At 41 years old, he’s getting more face time now as a has-been than he ever did when he was winning MVPs in his prime.
So with arguably the two most hated sports figures gracing us with their presence here in the “Hub of Hatred” this week, it got me thinking… “Who would make up my Mt. Rushmore of Hated Athletes?”
A few years ago, ESPN, the very network that has poured gasoline on the fire of James and Favre, ran a series of features, asking fans from each state to vote on four athletes or coaches to represent the “Mt. Rushmore” of their area. For Massachusetts, I believe our Mt. Rushmore was made up of Ted Williams, Bobby Orr, Tom Brady, and Red Auerbach. Pretty solid choices, if you ask me.
But let’s ask you…
Do James and Favre make your mountain of four? Who or what gets you all riled up? Do athletes tied to the steroid scandal get under your skin most? Would Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, or A-Rod make your top four? Or do you go back to the “Bash Brothers,” Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco? What about Pete Rose and his gambling? Does your hatred focus on the always heated Sox-Yanks rivalry? George Steinbrenner, maybe? Bucky Bleepin’ Dent or Aaron Bleepin’ Boone? Were you anti-Nomar? What about Bill Buckner or Grady Little; still holding a grudge?
Maybe it’s hoops that your hatred is centered around. Kobe, both for his alleged Colorado transgressions and for his general jackassery as a Laker? What about Magic Johnson, back in his hey-day? Or Bill Laimbeer and the rough and tough Pistons? Or could it be football where your hatred stems from? Everyone around here can’t stand Rex Ryan, right? And who doesn’t hate the Manning family? Which one’s your least favorite, Peyton, Eli, or Archie?
Hockey fans always get amped up about their own team’s rivals… do you hate everyone who’s ever put on a Montreal Canadiens sweater? What about sending your hatred towards guys like Randy Jones for the hit that concussed Patrice Bergeron? Or of course Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke, for the hit that concussed Marc Savard?
Maybe your hatred is aimed at someone else altogether? Tiger Woods, maybe? Do we really hate him for what he did? What about broadcasters or reporters? The Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy or The Herald’s Gerry Callahan? Do you hate them so much that they’d crack your top four? Many of us can’t stand ESPN’s Joe Morgan or FOX’s Tim McCarver… how about those guys making your Mt. Rushmore? Are you big on college sports? Anti-Saban, anyone? How about Bobby Knight or Mike Krzy… Krzyzew… whatever, the Duke coach!?!
Or maybe your hatred focuses on someone who betrayed you personally. An NFL kicker that cost you a fantasy football championship? A baseball player that wouldn’t sign an autograph for you after a game? A former 49ers wide receiver who cost you money when you bet on him to win “Dancing With the Stars” and he failed? Ok, maybe that last one’s just me, I’ll bet on anything, and I still hold a grudge, Jerry Rice!
So it’s time for “SoB Nation” to speak up… who would you put on your very own “Mt. Rushmore of Hatred?” Send your four nominees in over the next week or so… either leave them in a comment on this article, or email them to me at [email protected] I’ll come back next week and reveal my personal “Mt. Rushmore of Hatred,” and share with you the results of our readers. Get creative, tell me why you hate who you hate, and the best responses will make next week’s article.
Until then, remember… it’s not “don’t hate, appreciate!”… it’s “appreciate the hate!”
Tags: Aaron Boone, Archie Manning, Barry Bonds, Bill Buckner, Bill Laimbeer, Bobby Knight, Bobby Orr, Brett Favre, Bucky Dent, Dan Shaughnessy, Dancing with the Stars, Eli Manning, ESPN, George Steinbrenner, Gerry Callahan, Grady Little, Jerry Rice, Joe Morgan, Jose Canseco, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Marc Savard, Mark McGwire, Matt Cooke, Mike Kryzyzewski, Montreal Canadiens, Nick Saban, Nomar Garciaparra, Patrice Bergeron, Pete Rose, Peyton Manning, Randy Jones, Red Auerbach, Rex Ryan, Roger Clemens, Ted Williams, Tiger Woods, Tim McCarver, Tom Brady