Hating on rival athletes is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a sports fan. Rooting for the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins has meant that I’ve had my fair share of players that I’ve loved to hate. But who are some of the most memorable? Let’s take a look…
Wow – I really don’t like you
Eli Manning – He never won a playoff game except the two years he caught fire and ultimately defeated New England in the Super Bowl. Eli was Patriots kryptonite, and his mediocrity against seemingly all other opponents made him all the more detestable.
Nick Foles – Foles felt like the second coming of Eli Manning. May we never hear the words “Philly Special” again.
Lebron James (early years) – Lebron was easy to hate early on in his career. During his initial Cleveland run and his first year in Miami, it was easy to rag on Lebron as a frontrunner who couldn’t come through in the big moments. Of course, that all changed in the Heat’s must-win 2012 Easter Conference Finals Game 6 against the Celtics, when James put up 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in an absolutely dominating performance. Four rings later, and it’s hard to remember why we ever considered Lebron
Bernard Pollard – If you tear Brady’s ACL and cause him to miss a whole season, you’re going to find yourself on this list.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin – Honestly I couldn’t tell you exactly what bothered me about the Sedins, but when the Bruins were playing the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, I absolutely despised these guys. Guess I still do.
Aaron Boone – Boone’s 2003 walk off home run in Game 7 of the ACLS is the first and only time I have been brought to tears by sports. You made me cry, Aaron!
I may hate you, but I respect you
Peyton Manning – No doubt one of the best ever. And he brought rings to two different franchises. But man did I hate Peyton’s guts back in the days of the Brady vs. Manning debates! “Cut that meat” may go down as the best fan taunt of all time.
Terrell Suggs – Suggs talked a lot of trash, and he seemed to have a particular bone to pick with the Patriots, but his intensity was undeniable. He embraced the underrated New England-Baltimore rivalry, and helped make every matchup against the Ravens a can’t-miss occasion.
Mariano Rivera – I mean come on – does Rivera really need an explanation? I tip my cap to the greatest closer of all time.
Roger Clemens – I could never quite figure out how I felt about Clemens. Hate him for the steroid allegations? Love him for his history with the Sox? Hate him for throwing a broken bat at Mike Piazza (maybe by accident?)? At the end of the day, when you watched Roger, you knew you were watching arguably the greatest pitcher ever, and it was hard not to appreciate it.
I hate you so much I think I actually love you
Alex Rodriguez – When A-Rod was with the Yankees, he was truly the most hate-able athlete I’ve ever had the pleasure of rooting against. The ego, the money, the swagger, the slap – it was all just so easy to despise. And yet – A-Rod contributed so much to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, and so much to Boston fandom, that it’s impossible to imagine life without him. Looking back at his stats, both with the Yanks and in his earlier seasons with Seattle and Texas, is truly astounding. His post-playing career renaissance has added another chapter to the A-Rod experience, and I can’t wait to continue having him in our lives as a color commentator, NBA owner, and…who knows what’s next?
Bonus Category – Guys I loved but had to root against out of Boston sports fan duty. Sorry, it wasn’t personal
Lebron James (later years)