A year ago, when Forbes unveiled its annual survey of the most disliked athletes in American sports, Michael Vick topped the list. But Vick isn’t at the top anymore.
Forbes has unveiled this year’s edition of the poll, conducted by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, and topping the list is Lance Armstrong, who has just confessed that his seven Tour de France wins were fueled by performance-enhancing drugs.
After Armstrong is a football player who until a month ago was widely respected and even beloved: Manti Te’o, the former Notre Dame linebacker who will be chosen in April’s NFL draft. Te’o’s bizarre online relationship with a nonexistent woman he called his girlfriend has led to a stunning reversal in the way the American public views him. Before the news broke that his “dead girlfriend” was a hoax, 88 percent of people who knew who Te’o was said they had a positive view of him. Now only 15 percent of people who know who Te’o is have a positive view of him.
Following Te’o on the list of most disliked athletes is Tiger Woods, whose reputation still hasn’t recovered from the news of his multiple extramarital affairs. After Woods, at No. 4 on the list, is Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who is viewed positively by just 21 percent of people who know who he is. Cutler has never been involved in any type of off-field scandal, but a whole lot of people look at him and just don’t like him.
The only other football players who made the Top 10 are Vick, who comes in seventh place this year after finishing in first place last year, and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who comes in at No. 10. Dropping off the list are a couple of wide receivers, Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress, who probably aren’t any more popular now than they were a year ago, but are no longer in the media spotlight.
Also dropping off the list from last year is Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Last year Suh made the “most disliked” list after intentionally stomping on Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving. Suh’s Thanksgiving kick to Texans quarterback Matt Schaub’s groin was apparently not enough to keep him on the list of the most disliked athletes for a second consecutive year.