The AFC South and NFC South have some passionate fan bases, and that “passion” was on full display when putting together this list. The AFC South had a very scattered display of disdain for many different players throughout different eras. When it came down to tallying the votes, most of the winners/losers were current players but one fan base did still have malcontent a little ways back in history.
For the NFC South, it pretty much boiled down to one player. But let’s get to it!
The Most Hated NFL Player Opponent OF Each AFC And NFC South Fan Base
Colts Forged – Tom Brady
Brady may be the most hated player league-wide, outside of New England fans. Part of this stems from his good looks and care-free demeanor off the field. Part of this comes from the temper tantrums and complaining that is displayed on the field and sideline.
But, most of all, like with any great athlete, this hate primarily derives from his playing ability and will to win. For Colts’ fans, they know this all too well.
He is 10-3 against Indy in the regular season, but even more infuriating, is his 4-1 record against them in the playoffs, and 35 total touchdowns. Not to mention, the Colts had arguably one of the greatest QBs to ever play in their stable for 13 years, and when it counted in the playoffs, Brady always seemed to have his number.
Surprisingly, there was little distaste for Marcus Mariota or anyone on the Jaguars. Judging from early responses, if Deshaun Watson is able to continue his success from his shortened rookie season, then he will soon take over as the hated one in Indy.
But for now, “The Pharaoh/Tom The Terrific” remains as the person least likely to be offered a beer from Jim Irsay, or anyone in Indianapolis for that matter.
Battle Red (Texans) – Cortland Finnegan
This should come as no surprise. Every NFL fan, or at least Texans and Titans fans, remember the epic battle between Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan. No? If your too young to have witnessed the WWE Raw reenactment then feast your eyes.
In 12 games against the Texans, Finnegan only recorded one interception, but it was for 99 yards and a touchdown. He added 30 tackles and a sack over this span. These aren’t crazy stats to hate a player over, but if you’ve noticed a theme throughout this series, when you get in a melee with a fan favorite, you are asking to be put on the naughty list. Finnegan did just that. However, this hate will soon fade, and a new nemesis will arise. Derrick Henry? Jalen Ramsey? Andrew Luck?
Quarterbacks are the easy targets, but the cockiness, swagger, and big-play ability of Ramsey make him a distant relative to Hades for fans in Houston. Let’s also not forget that A.J. Bouye had a career year with the Texans and then jumped ship for the division foe, Jaguars. I’m fairly confident that there will be a new name sitting atop this list when it is next updated. For now, we can relish in the Finnegan fight.
Black And Teal / DDDUUUVVVAAALLL – Tom Brady
In my opinion, this is way too hasty, but hey, I am a mere scribe to the people. The Jags may not have a long and rich history yet, but they have faced many other formidable opponents many more times that would cause reason for hate.
But like I mentioned earlier, a player of Brady’s caliber is hated by many for his greatness, and it may skew judgment just a bit that this survey was taken just months after Tom Brady and the Patriots came back in the AFC Championship game to end the Jaguars bid for their first Super Bowl appearance. They say you always remember your first; first home run, first touchdown, first car, first kiss. Well, in this case, Jacksonville fans will always remember the man that knocked them out of their first potential Super Bowl.
In his career, Brady has only played the Jaguars 8 times. Five regular season games, and three playoff games. It’s a small sample size, but an impressive one. He is 8-0 with 19 touchdowns to only two interceptions. The understanding for the distaste is becoming more clear. Couple his undefeated track record with the aforementioned Super Bowl breakup, and you have the most hated player among the Jacksonville faithful.
Titan Up – J.J. Watt
J.J. Watt may have raised millions of dollars for relief for Hurricane Harvey victims. He may be one of the poster boys of the NFL. He may lift logs in the woods and chop down trees as a workout regiment. He may also be one of the most dynamic defensive players in the league, when healthy. He is also the most hated player opponent among Titans’ fans.
And if you were on the fence as a Tennessee fan, this video should help you make up your mind.
Over his career, Watt has played the Titans 11 times, all in the regular season. The Texans are 9-2 in those games and Watt notched 42 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and one receiving touchdown. There is no denying the argument that he is one of the best at doing what he does, playing at an elite level 100% of the time, but it may be his swagger and charisma that push the buttons of Titans’ fans. A lot of fans went so far as to call him “A letterman jacket wearing douchebag.”
Whatever the reason was, the vote was not even close. For the long foreseeable future, J.J. Watt is not a welcome man in The Music City.
Rise Up (Falcons) – Cam Newton
Cam Newton gets a rough go at it in the South region. In part, that may stem all the way back to his college days. Playing at Auburn and winning the national championship, and then being drafted first overall to a team just down the road, didn’t do anything to help his love affair with fans in Georgia, Louisiana, or Florida.
When it comes to the Falcons fanbase, it is easy to pinpoint their most hated team as the “Aints” but when it came to a single player, it always resonated back to Cam Newton. Newton is a good quarterback, hell he won the MVP back in 2015, but the hatred from Atlanta fans seems to come more from his attitude. “Gloats when he wins, pouts when he loses,” seemed to be the common quote thrown around.
At some level, almost all professional athletes do this, but Cam seems to take it to another level and is much more scrutinized for it, especially in the NFC South. This clip probably says it all…
Aside from injury, losing the Super Bowl is probably one of the hardest things to have to go through as a football player. An entire season of grueling hard work, lost, erased, forgotten. There is no denying the pain that one must go through. But Falcons’ fans will argue that you must have professionalism and class, even in defeat. Check out the difference in Matt Ryan‘s press conference after losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, the biggest comeback, or collapse, in Super Bowl History.
Newton will have to work on his professionalism in defeat if he wishes to improve his standing amongst fans in the NFC South. But then again, Cam probably doesn’t care.
Keep Pounding (Panthers) – Matt Ryan
From one great quarterback to another. While Falcons greatest distaste came for the signal caller in Carolina, Panther’s fans reciprocated the abhorrence. What’s a bit ironic is that it seemed like a lot of the hate for Ryan was created because of Falcon’s fans hate for Cam Newton. “You hate mine, so I’ll hate yours.” Talk about High School drama…
Two of my favorite descriptions (and semi-appropriate) of Matt Ryan from Panther’s faithful came from our survey on Reddit. User Chasepletcher4 wrote, “It’s not close for me. He looks like a pencil, that’s not the only reason I dislike him but still…” Hopefully, he at least looks like a Ticonderoga #2, many a tests were passed with that pencil brand.
User tehkyle5k wrote, “Matt Ryan looks like the guy that complains that his water is too spicy when he’s out with his family at Cracker Barrel.” Are you telling me you don’t like your water spicy?
Well, aside from his penciled good looks, Ryan is 12-8 all-time (never met in playoffs) against the Panthers, with 5,485 yards and 31 touchdowns. Oh, and he spoiled Carolina’s perfect season bid in 2015, so there’s that too…
Who Dat Nation (Saints) – Cam Newton / Roddy White
I have been to New Orleans, and I have been to Mercedez Benz Stadium. Maybe one of the most underrated cities in the United States, and one of the most underrated football towns in the NFL. Ask any fan of Who Dat nation who their biggest rival is and it’s clearly the Atlanta Falcons. But when it comes to player rival, it was a tie, between the aforementioned Cam Newton, and Roddy White.
The disdain for Newton came down to pretty much the same reasons as mentioned above. Cam is 7-7 against the Saints in the regular season and has one playoff loss against them, so the hatred stems more from his attitude and professionalism towards the game, similar to that of Falcons fans.
So for this segment, let’s focus more on Roddy White. In 22 games against the Saints, White finished with 1,293 yards and 9 touchdowns. These aren’t particularly gaudy numbers, in 13 games Julio Jones is only about 100 yards shy of this, but it was more his antics on the field and his comments in the media that drove Saints’ fans crazy. Take a listen.
Locker room comments are always good bulletin board material for teams, but they are more so reason’s to make you public enemy #1 for opposing fans. White was constantly poking at the Saints, so unfortunately for him, he won’t be invited over for gumbo any time soon.
Fire The Cannons (Buccaneers) – Cam Newton
Cam Newton makes the list yet again, this time for the Ole Buccaneers’ fans. In his 11 games against the Bucs, Cam is 8-3 with 2,382 yards and 16 touchdowns. The two have yet to meet in the playoffs. Again the resentment for Cam comes more for his attitude in victory and defeat, than his play on the field, and even more for his end zone dancing and celebrations, a theme in the NFC South so it seems.
And a couple of touchdown celebrations for your viewing pleasure.
So there you have it! The most hated NFL player opponent of each AFC and NFC South fan base. What do you think? Did we leave someone off the list should have been included instead? Comment below or let us know on Twitter!
And be sure to check back next week when we complete this series with the East Region!