Tag Archives: ray lewis

Thoughts on the Most Disliked Athletes in America (Who the heck voted on these guys?)

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports)

Photo Credit: (Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports)

Earlier this week Forbes released its list of the 10 most disliked athletes in America. That full list, in order by the most disliked, is as follows:

Tie – 1. Lance Armstrong
Tie – 1. Manti Te’o
3. Tiger Woods
4. Jay Cutler
5. Metta World Peace
6. Alex Rodriguez
7. Michael Vick
8. Kurt Busch
9. Kobe Bryant
10. Tony Romo

After I read that list, all I could think was, “who voted on this thing?” I can understand Armstrong. The wounds are still fresh from his admittance to using PEDs for, well, his entire career. Woods, World Peace, Vick and Bryant appearing on the list show that it’s hard to ditch reputations once those reputations have soured with the general public. Being a cheating, sex crazed asshole, going into the stands to attack fans, abusing dogs, and being accused of rape are things that take quite a bit of time for people to forget. When I look at some of the others, though, I just have to ask “why?”

Should Manti Te’o really be hated? You can call him naive, oblivious or gullible, but I’m not sure I’d call him hated. I almost feel sorry for the guy considering just how stupid he now appears to be. I think his place on the list is more due to people hating Notre Dame than Te’o.

Jay Cutler? Sure he’s an arrogant douche, or I guess I should just say douche since arrogance is an assumed part of doucheness. You can say he’s a whiny little brat too, but does he belong on a most hated list? Is he even relevant enough nationwide to be on this list?

Hasn’t Alex Rodriguez all but admitted he’s overrated? He admitted to using banned performance enhancing substances. He disappears in the postseason (both in games and when media want to talk to him). Sure, he plays for the Yankees, and we all hate the Yankees, but a spot in the top 10 list? I think we can do better (or should I say worse?) than A-Rod.

Kurt Busch? Do we consider auto racing a sport? No, seriously, do we? So Kurt has road rage, so does every other American male over the age of sixteen. I guess this is the impact of the south on the vote.

I’m at the point where I feel sorry for Tony Romo. The guy doesn’t do anything to be hated, I guess unless you’re a Cowboys fan, and I’d wager that his place on this list is more due to the voting of Cowboy haters than fans. He’s a model citizen off the field. If anything, I think this list shows that Americans still consider the Yankees, Cowboys and Notre Dame their most hated teams.

So the list is compiled of five guys that I agree belong on it, or should I say, I won’t fight back on; and five guys that have no place on this list.

So who should replace those that I don’t think belong?

Before Rahul throws in his vote for Kris Humphries due to his infatuation with the Kardashians, let it be known that the guy was on the list last year and dropped off this year, which I think he earned, as odd and backwards as that sounds to say he earned his way off this list. Personally, I kind of like Humphries now. How can you not like a guy who irritates Kanye?

But back to who should be on this list…

  • Dwight Howard!!!!!! How quickly we’ve forgotten what an immature little brat that guy is. How is he not on this list? Forget John Kerry, Dwight Howard is the ultimate flip flopper. And don’t forget, he also got his coach fired. Then he decided he wanted out of Orlando and even chose where he wanted to go, or maybe it was his second or third choice – he switched his demands so much I’ve forgotten – and now isn’t happy there either. Sorry, Superman, you belong on this list.
Photo Credit: (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Photo Credit: (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

  • If Jay Cutler is included, don’t we need Philip Rivers on it too? I think he’s more of a whining crybaby than Cutler. I’m tired of seeing him rant and rave on the sidelines, screaming at players and coaches alike.
  • Fans outside of Baltimore and New England might not be as aware of this guy, but what about Ravens safety Bernard Pollard (or Bernard Karmell Pollard!!! as Bill Simmons and the guys at Grantland refer to him). Pollard has caused serious injuries to not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR players on the New England Patriots in separate seasons. He ended the seasons of Tom Brady (2008 – torn ACL) and Wes Welker (2009 season finale – torn ACL); and for the most part, also ended the seasons of and Rob Gronkowski (2012 playoffs – sprained ankle) and Stevan Ridley (2013 playoffs – concussion knocking him unconscious) since both weren’t fully healthy contributors throughout the remainder of the playoffs. With the number piled up at four, don’t we have to say this isn’t a coincidence anymore? I know many people hate the Patriots, but look past that. The guy ended the seasons of three Pro Bowlers. Seems kind of pre-meditated to me.
  • What about Ray Freaking Lewis!?!?! This baffles me. I asked a lot of people who they were cheering for in the Super Bowl and in roughly 95% of those conversations (using a very accurate statistical measurement called my head and gut), “I hate Ray Lewis” was mentioned. The reasons varied from ‘being a hypocrite’ to ‘inaccurately depicting religion and God’s impact daily life’ to ‘killing two people,’ but the end result was the same – people can’t stand the guy.
  • I think Floyd Mayweather escaped making the list because not enough people are aware of him. Do people even watch boxing anymore? I have to confess I first became aware of what a mouthy, pompous jerk he is from when he made some guest appearances on WWE (yes, I’m admitting to watching WWE). He was cast as a face (good guy) and ended up wrestling the Big Show, a heel (bad guy), at WWE’s Wrestlemania pay-per-view event. However, in the weeks leading up to that match, actually, I take that back – the very moment Mayweather opened his mouth, I found myself wanting to see him get pummeled. I’m not sure what WWE was thinking positioning him as a face, but the majority of fans ended up cheering for the ‘heel’ in that match right along with me. And then of course, there are the multiple batteries Mayweather has committed against girlfriends.

So if I’m making this list, I replace Te’o, Cutler, A-Rod, Busch and Romo with Dwight Howard, Philip Rivers, Ray Lewis, Bernard Pollard and Floyd Mayweather.

Then I started wondering, what if the scope of the poll had been expanded to sports figures and not just athletes? How would coaches stack up in this? Where would a guy like Rex Ryan fall? That would lengthen this post quite a bit, and let’s be honest, you’ve probably already stopped reading this far, so I’m going to investigate the most hated coaches in a future post. Let me know who you think belongs on that list or if I forgot anyone who belongs on the most hated athletes list.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at kevin@thecouchletes.com

The Passing of the Torch?

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports)

Photo Credit: (Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports)

The past two weeks have been full of Super Bowl story angles on the Harbaughs, Ravens, 49ers and various members of each team. Lost amid all the hype surrounding Ray Lewis’ impending retirement and the crowning of wonderkind of the moment, Colin Kaepernick, as the league’s next great quarterback is a story that, frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t heard much about. It’s the story of the meeting of two inside linebackers, one already established as a Hall of Fame shoo in, potentially the best linebacker of all time, and the other, a promising, young player that reminds many of the former.

I’m talking about Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis.

As Lewis’ career winds to an end in the Super Bowl, Willis has put himself in a position to take over the mantle as the premier inside linebacker in the game. Over the first few years of Willis’ career, we heard this Lewis-Willis comparison many times. The way Willis approached the game, the way he played it, his body, it all reminded us of Ray Lewis. So why haven’t we heard about this passing of the torch the past two weeks?

Perhaps because the workman-like, no frills, stoic approach Willis takes isn’t something that makes a lot of waves among the other showier stories that emerge during Super Bowl week (Chris Culliver anyone?). Or maybe it’s because his 49ers have finally had some other stars emerge, stars that want the attention (looking at you Kaepernick). Or maybe it’s because Willis’ counterpart on the inside of the San Francisco linebacking corps, NaVorro Bowman, also emerged as a prime time player this year.

I don’t have the answer as to why, but in my eyes, the comparison still sticks. So I decided to take it a step further than the eyeball test. Over the first six years of each of their careers, Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis have played the exact same number of games. They each only missed four total games over that span (maybe they have the same deer antler spray guy). It sets things up perfectly to compare the two head to head. Is Willis really deserving of the comparison? How does he stack up to the future Hall of Famer? Can we say that this is a passing of the torch situation?

Total Tackles
Lewis (875) vs. Willis (812)

Solo Tackles
Lewis (698) vs. Willis (621)

Lewis (19.5) vs. Willis (17.5)

Lewis (12) vs. Willis (7)

While Willis’ numbers are good, they don’t quite stack up to those that Lewis put together over his first six seasons. Of course, we’re looking at these numbers in a vacuum, which for some reason, people tend to do a lot when they look at sports stats. One could easily argue that Lewis had much better defensive tackles lining up in front of him over his first six seasons, absorbing blockers, freeing Lewis to make more plays. In fact, this has long been an argument made against Lewis by the Ray-Ray haters. Nonetheless, the fact that Lewis’ numbers are better across the board, make quite a statement.

Given these numbers, I think we can reasonably say that although Willis is a good player, it’s unfair to compare him to Lewis. After six seasons, Lewis had already established himself as the type of player that could be called generational. Willis isn’t at that point, and at this point in his career, about halfway through, I think he’d have to increase his production a bit to reach that status by the end of his career. What could make that even harder is that over the previous two seasons, we’ve started to see his counterpart on the interior of San Francisco’s linebacking corps, NaVorro Bowman, emerge as just as good of a linebacker as Willis himself, possibly even better. In my opinion, Bowman had the better 2012 campaign.

Not quite a passing of the torch situation, but on Sunday we’re in for a treat watching two defenses anchored by stellar, Pro Bowl caliber (at least until the past two seasons in Lewis’ case) inside linebackers. These two solid defenses have been overshadowed a bit by their offenses leading up to the game, but come Sunday, I have a feeling we may be in for a defensive battle.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at kevin@thecouchletes.com

The Ray Lewis Double Standard – The Ray-Ray

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Nick Wass/AP)

Photo Credit: (Nick Wass/AP)

I like the Ray Lewis story that’s evolved during this NFL post season. Right before the playoffs started, he announced this is his last season. It’s served as quite the motivator for his team. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a player whose presence on the field has done more to motivate and inspire his team.

“I have to make this catch. For Ray.”

“I need to knock down this pass. For Ray.”

You see it all up and down the Ravens roster. These guys really, really want to win for Lewis. Either that or they’re scared of the wrath of Ray after a loss. Either way, they don’t want to let him down. His teammates want to give him one more run, one more Super Bowl appearance, maybe even one more ring.

Lewis is one of, if not the best, linebacker to ever play the game. He’s a definite first ballot of famer, but people tend to forget the issues he’s had with the law. Prepare yourself, this is kind of a touchy subject. Or at least I think it must be given the silence arounf it. No one ever talks about his obstruction of justice conviction and involvement in a murder charge (you like that old school SI article I just linked to?). But why don’t we talk about it? When we talk about Mike Vick, dogs come up. When we talk about Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or now Lance Armstrong, steroids come up. Pete Rose? Gambling. When we talk about Plaxico Burress…wait, do people actually talk about Plaxico Burress?…whatever…we talk about an idiot that shot himself.

What I’m saying is that in most cases, when a pro athlete has become involved in, or sometimes even just accused of, something criminal (or in the case of Rose, something millions and millions of people do legally every day in Vegas), they become tied to that incident. Not quite synonymous, but it’s definitely part of their story that’s frequently brought up. We don’t we do that with Lewis though. Seems kind of like a double standard, doesn’t it? Because of his positive affect on the Ravens franchise, the city of Baltimore and the game of football, I think the media and fans have given him a pass on bringing it up when discussing him. They give him a Ray-Ray. That’s right, I just coined a new term. Give it time, you’ll hear it in real life.

“But daaaad, Jake’s curfew was 11 when he was 16, why is mine 10? Why are you pulling a Ray-Ray?”

I’ll leave you with this Ray Lewis video. To be honest, the whole reason I wrote this post was just so I could link to this video. Enjoy. And you’re welcome. Instant classic.

Ray Lewis’ Ray of Light by TV Funhouse (sorry I didn’t embed the video…we encountered some technical difficulties with it)


By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at kevin@thecouchletes.com