The 2011 NFL Hateability Index (cont.)
New York Giants: The New York Football Giants, as they prefer to be called, may be the most likable team in all of New York. Faint praise, I know. But this is an exceedingly competent, old-school football franchise. They employed Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick before the nation got tired of them.
Alas, they are still from New York, and while I am a native New Yorker, I can't kid myself. People hate New York teams. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 8
Dallas Cowboys: This needs no explanation. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 10
Washington Redskins: OK, first of all: Redskins? That makes "Cleveland Indians" sound politically correct. For years, the franchise didn't just have a racist name and logo; it had a racist philosophy. The Redskins had an all-white roster, leading to legendary Washington Post writer Shirley Povich's famous line: "Jim Brown, born ineligible to play for the Redskins, integrated their end zone three times yesterday."
These days the Redskins remain exceedingly hateable for two reasons. Their 1980s greatness is still seared in the memories of anybody who is 30 or older, and their owner, Daniel Snyder, still seems like a spoiled rich kid who thinks he is better than you because he can afford more toys. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 10
Philadelphia Eagles: I have a confession to make: I love Philadelphia. I love the city, I love its history, I love the outsized passion for the sports teams, I love the location, I love all of it. But as I am reminded on a daily basis, I am not a normal human being. Most sports fans do not like Philadelphia. They think of it as the city that booed Santa Claus, harassed native son Kobe Bryant for an entire All-Star game, and is stuck between New York and Washington, D.C. on the map and envious of both.
And yet ... the Eagles are not all that hateable, for two reasons. One is that they have never won a Super Bowl. And the other is that everybody else in the NFC East is easier to hate. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 7
Chicago Bears: I have a theory that, all things being equal, more people like to see the Bears win than any other team. I don't mean they have the most fans. I mean that their overall approval rating is highest. People like when the Bears are good. When you think of the NFL, you think of the Monsters of the Midway. The '85 Bears are probably the most beloved great team in American sports history. It is hard to be dominant and lovable, but that team was. And I think Chicago may have the highest approval rating of any American city. Chicago doesn't turn a lot of people off like L.A. and New York do. Bears games on the lakefront are special.
And yet: You hate Jay Cutler. I certainly don't. But you do, right? Of course you do. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 4
Detroit Lions: In truth, the people who hate the Lions the most are Lions fans. Every Sunday, they wake up, stretch and think, "I can't believe I married this clown." But they're stuck. Abandoning their team would mean all their suffering was for naught. So they hang in there and hope the team they married will lose 60 pounds, stop drinking and get a job.
The rest of America hates the Lions for playing on Thanksgiving every year, robbing Americans of their favorite activity: Watching football while ignoring their families. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 3
Green Bay Packers: You love Green Bay, Lambeau, and praising "real fans" who sit outside in subzero temperatures while you sit on your couch in your shorts. But the Packers have stumbled into back-to-back All-Pro quarterbacks. And both won Super Bowls. That is annoying. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 5
Minnesota Vikings: Something happened to the Vikings in the last dozen years. They went renegade on us. They used to be known for losing Super Bowls in the 1970s and having some of the coolest uniforms in the NFL. It's hard to wear purple and still have great football uniforms, but the Vikings did it.
Then they drafted Randy Moss. They had that whole Love Boat incident. The final straw, for the public, was when they coaxed Brett Favre out of retirement. It just seemed like a desperate, soul-selling gesture -- Vikings fans had cheered against Favre for years, and now they were willing to love him if it meant going to the Super Bowl. Would Browns fans have embraced an aging Terry Bradshaw like that? I don't think so. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 8
Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta was a four-pro-sport town until recently, when the Thrashers left. FYI, Atlantans: The Thrashers were a hockey team, the second one that ditched you. Leagues keep waiting for Atlanta to be a great sports town, and it hasn't happened yet -- at least, not for pro sports.
For better or worse, the teams seem to reflect the city's limited passion. Dominique Wilkins was content to score a bunch. The Braves made the playoffs every year but only won one World Series. These Falcons seem different -- Matt Ryan seems like the kind of quarterback who will win the Super Bowl one day. But they aren't fully hateable yet. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 8, just to see if Atlanta fans care enough to protest.
Carolina Panthers: I hate their name. "Panthers" is fine, but "Carolina" is a reach -- like the team is desperate for everybody to know it represents two states, not just one. Also, the team owner just told Cam Newton not to get any tattoos or piercings. Dude, you pay men millions of dollars to hit other men. Get over yourself. HATEABILITY FACTOR: a surprising 7
New Orleans Saints: They stunk for years. They survived Hurricane Katrina. They won the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion. They have all-around great human Drew Brees. Sorry. Can't really hate 'em. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They fired Tony Dungy, who won without a great quarterback. They fired Jon Gruden, giving us This Guy and That Guy on Monday Night Football. (I actually think Gruden is insightful when he isn't This Guying and That Guying us to death.) Their owner, Malcolm Glazer, made his money through the charming practice of corporate takeovers. He bought Manchester United, one of the most popular teams in the world, and alienated almost all their fans. Fun fact: The Bucs play in England this year. Soccer hooligan alert! HATEABILITY FACTOR: 7
Arizona Cardinals: They stole St. Louis' name and uniforms. Unacceptable. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 6
St. Louis Rams: They stole Los Angeles' name and uniform. Then they tweaked the uniforms by turning yellow into gold. That is worse, isn't it? Also, they totally lucked into Kurt Warner, but then Warner turned out to be extremely likable, and he ended up making the Super Bowl again with the Cardinals, which should have angered St. Louis fans, but if it did, I didn't hear about it. I'm so confused. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 6
San Francisco 49ers: We need to take a moment here to appreciate how awesome it is that Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll are in the same NFL division. The minute Harbaugh got to Stanford, he started tweaking Carroll, who was at USC. Harbaugh famously went for two points in a blowout win over USC, then when Carroll asked, "What's your deal?" on the field afterward, Harbaugh responded by saying, "What's YOUR deal?" Then Carroll went to Seattle. And Harbaugh went to San Francisco. And you know that has to drive Carroll nuts.
As for the 49ers: If Harbaugh wins, and I believe he will eventually, they can go back to being one of the league's glamour teams. And, of course, they can be hated again. Until then ... HATEABILITY FACTOR: 5
Seattle Seahawks: Isn't there something about Pete Carroll that just makes you want to drive on his lawn? He just seems a little too "hey there, buddy!" cool for his own good. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 6
Unnamed, nonexistent L.A. team that we keep hearing the NFL "needs" for some reason: Oh, shut up with this already. HATEABILITY FACTOR: 10