Football fans' favorite and least favorite players
Top 10 Most-Liked Players
1. Troy Polamalu (S ,PIT)
2. Drew Brees (QB, NO)
3. Charles Woodson (S, GB)
4. Peyton Manning (QB, DEN)
5. Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)
6. Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE)
7. Robert Griffin III (QB, WAS)
8. Brian Urlacher (LB, CHI)
9. Donald Driver (WR, GB)
10. Matthew Stafford (QB, DET)
Troy Polamalu tops the list, and why not? If you aren't a huge Polamalu fan, that's fine, but I can't see any reason for someone to dislike him. He's incredible at playing football, he's got a signature look with his unmistakable Samoan flow, and he's well-known thanks to endorsement deals and the success of the Steelers.
The most glaring trend is the high number of quarterbacks, which should have been expected. Most quarterbacks are the faces of their franchises, and the success - or lack thereof - of a team is often pinned on the signal caller, resulting in fans often either loving or hating a team's quarterback.
Saints' quarterback Drew Brees led all quarterbacks in popularity, likely due in large part to his recent record-shattering performances and the overall success of the Saints, who won the Super Bowl in 2010. Brees' 6'0'' 209 pound frame (very small for a quarterback) may have also contributed an underdog factor that fans love.
Robert Griffin III cracked the top ten thanks to a high profile as the No. 2 overall pick in 2012, and an electrifying playing style that we haven't seen since Michael Vick's early days as a pro. Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are both former MVPs and Super Bowl champions, while Matthew Stafford is a young gunslinger who's helped make the Lions relevant again.
Rob Gronkowski seems reasonable in 6th as a record breaking tight end with a fun, lively personality.
While Charles Woodson and Brian Urlacher both make sense as tenured defensive superstars who have each earned Defensive Player of the Year honors, Donald Driver is a bit surprising. There's no reason to dislike Driver, but he hasn't posted more than 51 catches and 565 yards since 2009. As a former 7th round pick who made three Pro Bowls thanks to hard work, he's a great story, but I thought his popularity would have run its course by now. I would have expected someone like Larry Fitzgerald to rank higher as a wide receiver.
One last interesting thing to note is the absence of a running back. Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson probably would have had a good shot at making it if his team had been better in recent years. Maurice Jones-Drew likely hurt his chances with a stubborn holdout this past summer. I would have thought, however, that we might see someone like Arian Foster or Ray Rice up there.
Top 10 Least-Liked Players
1. Ndamukong Suh (DT, DET)
2. Jay Cutler (QB, CHI)
3. Michael Vick (QB, PHI)
4. Randy Moss (WR, SF)
5. Matt Leinart (QB, OAK)
6. Tony Romo (QB, DAL)
7. Kyle Orton (QB, DAL)
8. Santonio Holmes (WR, NYJ)
9. Mark Sanchez (QB, NYJ)
10. Brady Quinn (QB, KC)
Ndamukong Suh probably would have been on the opposite end of these rankings early in his career, but he has since gained a reputation as a dirty player, highlighted by stomping on a player's arm on national TV last year.
Quarterbacks once again dominate the top ten, even more than in the most-liked category. Jay Cutler earned his spot by yelling at his wide receivers and getting in sideline altercations with coaches. Michael Vick is a $100 million disappointment who hasn't been able to live up to his talk of a "dynasty." Tony Romo is the quarterback of America's Team, but America's Team has just one playoff victory with Romo under center. Mark Sanchez has become a bust after being selected 5th overall in 2009 and is keeping the world from seeing another installment of Tebow Time.
None of the other three quarterbacks on the list came into the season as their team's starter, so it's sort of strange to see them here. Matt Leinart and Brady Quinn are both 1st round picks who haven't panned out, but it's not like they're scumbags. Then you have Kyle Orton, a 4th round pick who's been pretty solid relative to his expectations coming out of college. I don't have any theories as to why football fans could possibly dislike him.
The top ten least-liked is rounded out by diva wide receivers. Randy Moss hasn't done anything worth his ranking recently, but people apparently have yet to forget his antics that got him both traded and released in 2010. Santonio Holmes is an overpaid receiver who made headlines with an on-field temper tantrum at the end of last season.