We continue our series of the most hated NFL player of each fan base, continuing with the North region of fans. The West region was a very diverse hatred, spread around to numerous different players. To view the most hated NFL players of the AFC and NFC West fan bases click here.
The same cannot be said for the North, or at least not in the AFC. There seemed to be a mutual disgust for one player, and it wasn’t even close. But enough yapping. Here is Sports Al Dente’s list for the most hated NFL players of each AFC North and NFC North fan base.
The Most Hated NFL Player Opponent Of Each AFC And NFC North Fan Base
Ravens Flock – Hines Ward
You will see a trend as we go down this list in the AFC North, Hines Ward is not a very well liked man within the division. Call it his production. Call it his longevity. Call it his toughness. Call it his trash talking.
Call it his bone-rattling crack blocks. Whatever you want to call it, Ward is loathed in the AFC North.
Ward played 26 regular season games against the Ravens, and three playoff games against the Flock. In those 29 games, he had 1,437 yards receiving, 117 receptions, and seven touchdowns. Pretty good numbers for one receiver to have against one team, but the hatred probably comes more from the punishing hits (or cheap shots as Ravens fans would call them) that Ward perpetrated on Baltimore’s defense.
“We’re going to talk s–t. We’re going to back it up,” Suggs says. “We might get into a fight while we’re doing something. You know what I’m saying. It was personal. It was personal. We wanted to kill Hines Ward. I had to threaten him before every play like, ‘If you crack me, I swear to God I’m going to break your f–king neck.'”
Sounds more than salty to me. Sounds like pure Hatred.
The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is one of the greatest in Sports. A lot of it can be attested to the great defenses each team has had over the years. A lot can be attested to the fact that each team is fighting for playoff positioning almost every year. But maybe the greatest factor can be attributed to Hines Ward and the hatred that he riled up between the two clubs.
Who Dey (Bengals) – Hines Ward
The hatred from Who Dey nation pretty much stems from the same cloth as Baltimore. Ward played them twice a year, put up Pro Bowl numbers, and dished out vicious blindside hits to Bengal defenders.
Everyone will remember his hit on Rivers, posted above, but Ward also cracked down on big games on the stat sheet. In 28 regular season games, he had 131 receptions, 1,588 receiving yards, and a whopping 15 touchdowns. Ward had one touchdown in the lone playoff game he faced the Bengals, a victory for the Steelers.
Hines Ward may have retired from football in 2012, but the relinquishing disgust in Cincy lives on.
The Dawg Pound – Hines Ward
And the Hines Ward hate train rolls on. This is where the youth of our survey rears its head. I would have bet money that this answer had to be John Elway. Two AFC Championship games are stored in the NFL vault in infamy with two simple names: “The Drive” and “The Fumble.” And John Elway is the root of both of these.
But I digress. This is 2018, and hate among the youth boils for Hines Ward. In 25 regular season games against the Browns, Ward posted 126 receptions, 1,490 yards receiving, and 10 touchdowns. Surprisingly, Ward did face Cleveland in one playoff game in the 2002 season. He went off for 11 receptions, 104 yards, and one touchdown in a victory for the Steelers.
His stats were mostly forgotten, however, as most fans noted his “dirty blocking” and “blindside hits” as the reason to loathe him. Touche Hines Ward, eight years after your retirement and an entire division still has a dark and lonely place for you in their hearts.
The Steel Curtain – Vontaze Burfict
I think this one was extremely obvious. Anyone looking at past Steeler rivalries, Ray Lewis was the constant answer, but in the present day, no one gets the blood boiling in the Steel City quite like Vontaze Burfict.
We can look back at the 2015 season as a small sample size of what Burfict has done to deserve the scorn from the Black and Yellow.
First, Week 8, on this tackle, Burfict ends Le’Veon Bell‘s season.
Then in the AFC Championship game, he sacks Ben Roethlisberger, knocking him out of the game with a sprained AC joint and torn ligaments in his throwing shoulder. He would return to the game and played the following week, but clearly was not the same player.
Finally, again in the AFC Championship, there is this hit to the head of Antonio Brown. Brown would miss the Divisional Round Game with a concussion, and had to watch his Steelers fall to the Denver Broncos.
Nothing creates a bitter rivalry like pure hatred for a player on the field. Burfict has definitely earned that honor among the Steelers fan base.
Just ask JuJu.
Bear Down – Clay Matthews
I wouldn’t say that this shocked me, but it was a bit surprising considering the Packers have had not one, but two Hall Of Fame QBs, and another one on the way. Considering Matthews has been the face of the defense for quite some time, and the fact that his name came up a good amount among the other teams in the division, it is reasonable.
Now there are many reasons why fans hate specific players, but typically, it boils down to two rationales. Greatness is the number one cause of malcontent by opposing fans. The second? When a player is publically praised, and yet their “greatness” is vastly overrated.
Chicago’s hate for Matthews is primarily due to the latter, or so they say. The man does have six Pro Bowls and one All-Pro selection to his name. Over the past two seasons, however, he has combined for a meager 67 tackles and 12.5 sacks. Matthews did miss a few games due to injury, but I can understand their plea for “overrated.” In Clay’s career, he has 53 tackles and 9.5 sacks against the Bears in 16 regular season games.
Here are his 10 best highlights for Bears fans to marvel over…
Lions Den – Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers tops the list of most hated players of the Detroit Lions fan base, and it wasn’t even close. Many factors go into this abhor attitude: his greatness, his cockiness, his attitude, his ability to complain to the refs and get his way, but the number one factor is that he wins.
In his career, Rodgers is 13-3 against the Lions with 4,058 yards, 34 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. That is a Pro Bowl season against a division rival, and you get to play him twice a year.
Oh, and there is also this…
Yeah, I get it.
Titletown, U.S.A. – Ndomakung Suh
Suh may have left Detroit for South Beach, and then packed his bags for the Hills of Hollywood, but he will always be hated by Packers fans. Is he a dominant interior defensive lineman? Yes. Did the Packers struggle running the ball against him? Yes. Suh played five seasons for the Lions where he was selected as an All-Pro three times and to the Pro Bowl four times. His dominance is well noted.
However, the disgust stems more from the dirty player that he became known as on the field, during and after the whistle.
There is the famous stomp on the forearm:
And then the casual “step on ankle twice with full body weight:”
The videos speak for themselves. Packers fans, you are not alone in your distaste for the Boy Named Suh.
Skol Vikings – Aaron Rodgers
This was another tight race that was closer than I expected. Clay Matthews was a close second, but when all the votes were tallied up, Rodgers came out on top. In 19 regular season games against the Packers, he has thrown for 4,571 yards, 39 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. In their lone playoff appearance against each other, Rodgers was victorious with a completion percentage of almost 70%.
I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so I won’t. When you play against a Hall Of Fame quarterback in your division, it’s the easy answer.
Here is one of his best performances against the Vikings to date. Rodgers vs Cousins for the next few years should be fun.
What do you think? Agree with our list? Is there a player you would like to add? Comment below or shout us out on Twitter! Make sure to check in next week when we release our list for the AFC South and NFC South most hated player.
And be sure to check out our podcast, The Coach and The Don, for great NFL banter!