NFC South: beloved figure

Beloved/disliked: Carolina Panthers

September, 7, 2010
Here are the results of your voting for the most beloved and disliked figures in the history of the Carolina Panthers.

Beloved figure: Sam Mills

Reader comment: "Most beloved is definitely Sam Mills. Sam was an incredible leader and his passion fueled the team as a player and a coach. The community lost a special person when Sam passed." --- Justin, Charlotte, N.C.

Runner-up: Jake Delhomme. Mills won by a pretty wide margin. But the interesting thing here is that Delhomme initially was getting a lot of votes in the disliked category. After we reported some of the early results, Carolina fans really stepped up to support Delhomme.

Most disliked: Julius Peppers

Reader comment: "I decided on Peppers. I have lived in NC my entire life. I watched him in college (as a Duke fan pulling against Carolina) and as a pro. I was very excited when the Panthers picked him with the #2 pick. However, I hate the way he didn't always try. I also hate the manner in which he left the team. As a fan who buys game tickets, jerseys, stuff with the team logo, etc. I feel that I helped pay his 1,000,000 a game salary. I think my Panther-fan brethren and I deserved better from him. (If he only had Jake's loyalty...) " -- -Adam, Mill Spring, S.C.

Runner-up: Kerry Collins. Peppers pretty much ran away with this, but Carolina fans showed they have strong memories by not forgetting what Collins did in the early years of the franchise.
Here are the results of your voting for the most beloved and disliked figures in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Beloved figure: Mike Alstott.

Reader comment: “The thing about Alstott is our love for him wasn't so much his contributions to the community or charitable works (which he has plenty of, albeit maybe not as high profile/numerous as Derrick Brooks or Lee Roy Selmon).But to me and probably a lot of other fans, it's just that every time I think of the A-Train, I think of Chris Berman going "Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom" as he literally ran over would-be tacklers on Sportscenter highlights and was the most consistent interest generator for an area who usually gets no respect nationally. Brings a smile to my face every time. No one on the Bucs has ever been as FUN to watch in my opinion as he was." -- -Leroy, Gainesville FL

Runner-up: Derrick Brooks. The voting in this category was the closest of any throughout the division. Alstott beat Brooks by two votes.

Disliked figure: Hugh Culverhouse.

Reader comment: "Hugh Culverhouse. The guy basically ruined the franchise for as long as he ran it, traded our only franchise QB (Doug Williams) out of town because he wanted a new contract and he missed out on what Bo Jackson could've been."-- Carlos, Panama.

Runner-up: Keyshawn Johnson. This one wasn’t all that close. Culverhouse received nearly twice as many votes as Johnson.

Beloved/disliked: Atlanta Falcons

September, 7, 2010
Here are the results of your voting for the most beloved and disliked figures in the history of the Atlanta Falcons.

Beloved figure: Jessie Tuggle.

Reader comment: "My vote for most beloved would belong to Jessie Tuggle, who floored me with his drive, his talent, and his spirit." -- James, Atlanta, Ga.

Runner-up: Arthur Blank. This was a pretty close race, with Tuggle edging out the owner by fewer than 10 votes.

Disliked figure: Bobby Petrino

Reader comment: "My most disliked individual, Bobby Petrino. The reason for my vote is simply you never quit, no matter how bad something looks, it’s just the worst thing one can do while playing organized sports." -- Chris, Tulsa, Okla.

Runner-up: Michael Vick. These two dominated the voting in this category, but Petrino received more than double the amount of votes Vick did.

Beloved/disliked: New Orleans Saints

September, 7, 2010
We’ll start with the New Orleans Saints as we unveil the results of the voting for the most beloved and disliked figures in the history of each NFC South franchise.

Beloved figure: Drew Brees.

Reader comment: " Before the '06 season, this would have been a hard choice for me between Deuce McAllister and Archie Manning, but Drew Brees is the easy choice here. He will always be the man who took us to our first Super Bowl. Not to mention, he is an incredible person who loves the city as much as we love him." ---Tom, New Orleans LA

Runner-up: McAllister. Brees won by more than 40 votes, but McAllister, Manning and Sean Payton all drew some support in this category.

Disliked figure: Aaron Brooks

Reader comment: "I'm a diehard Saints fan, most hated/despised would be Aaron Brooks probably. He just seemed to epitomize the Saints, underachieved and seemed to make the wrong move at the wrong time. Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory kind of stuff. " ---Eric, Jackson, Miss.

Runner-up: Mike Ditka. Brooks and Ditka dominated this category, but former cornerback Jason David also drew a fair amount of votes.

Beloved/disliked winners on the way

September, 7, 2010
We are about to roll out the results of your voting for the most beloved and disliked figures for each NFC South team.

Saint Leo University student Kevin Little did a fine job on this project and he reports that 140 different figures across the division, from star players to radio announcers to mascots, received votes. There were some close races and several landslides.

Over the next few hours, I’ll roll out your choices with posts on each team. In each case, I'll list the winner in each category, plus a reader comment that Kevin and I chose to summarize the thoughts of voters and a runner-up in each category.

The NFC South polls are closed

September, 3, 2010
The voting for the beloved and disliked figures for all four NFC South teams is now over.

I’m about to ship the final batch of ballots off to intern Kevin Little, who will spend his holiday weekend calculating the final results. We in Florida have a reputation for being a little controversial when counting votes. But we’re going to break that trend. Kevin is following the rules closely and counting every ballot that met the criteria.

That means the votes that came in for Rae Carruth as Carolina’s disliked figure aren’t going to count because we declared up front that his troubles went beyond football and made him off limits. Kevin’s also tossed aside the ballot for the beloved and disliked figures for LSU football, although Kevin and I appreciated the effort and passion.

Anyway, if the counting goes as planned, I hope to announce the winners next week. I’m hoping for Tuesday or Wednesday. We’ll do posts for each team and will include some of the comments you sent along to explain your votes.

Thanks to all who participated.

Polls close at 5 p.m. Friday

September, 3, 2010
Please consider this your final reminder that the polls close Friday at 5 p.m. ET in our voting for the most disliked and beloved figures in the history of each NFC South franchise.

We’ll announce the winners next week. But we need to put a stop to the voting so that St. Leo University Sports Business major Kevin Little, who is acting as our statistician on this project will have something to keep him busy for the entire holiday weekend.

If you haven’t voted yet, hit the mailbag with your ballot before the end of the day.

Update on voting for beloved/disliked

September, 2, 2010
I just got the latest results in your voting for the most beloved and disliked figures in NFC South history and we’ve had a little bit of movement.

According to Kevin Little, the Saint Leo University student who is helping us out by tabulating the votes, the tightest races are in the Carolina precinct.

At least as of late last night Julius Peppers and Kerry Collins were tied for the lead in the disliked category. Although Jake Delhomme was getting a lot of early votes in the disliked category (and still is getting some), I think Carolina fans now are looking at the bigger picture of what the quarterback did for their franchise. Kevin reports Delhomme has now climbed into second place in the beloved category and isn’t all that far off leader Sam Mills.

In the Atlanta precinct, Bobby Petrino is running away with the disliked category. But the interesting thing here is the beloved category, where Matt Ryan, Jessie Tuggle and Arthur Blank are in virtually a three-way tie for the lead.

The exit polls in New Orleans show a very close battle in the disliked category with Aaron Brooks holding a very slight lead over Mike Ditka. Drew Brees is running away in the beloved category.

In Tampa Bay, Hugh Culverhouse has a sizable lead in the disliked category. Mike Alstott’s got a comfortable lead in the beloved category. That’s a little surprising to me. I mean, Alstott was a good player for a long time and a nice guy, but I can’t help but wonder if people are forgetting about the contributions guys like Derrick Brooks, Lee Roy Selmon and Tony Dungy made to this franchise.

Then again, I don’t want to steer the vote. These are your choices. The voting continues through 5 p.m. ET on Friday. If you haven’t voted yet, please send your votes to the mailbag.

I’ll announce the winners next week.

Early observations on your votes

August, 31, 2010
Just sent the first round of ballots in our contest for the most disliked and most beloved figures in NFC South history into the capable hands of Kevin Little, who is going to be tabulating the results. A senior Sports Business major at Saint Leo University, Kevin’s doing an internship with the Gator Bowl and has graciously agreed to do a quasi-internship in helping with this project.

The voting continues, probably for the rest of the week, so step into the voting booth if you haven’t yet. I scanned the ballots that were just sent off to Kevin and it was fascinating. First off, you’re doing a great job playing by the rules we set out, although I’m not really sure how we got a ballot that had the most disliked and beloved figures in LSU history -- that one’s not going to be tabulated.

I don’t want to influence the vote, but I’ll throw out a few observations.
  • Perhaps the thing that struck me most was the range of emotions from Carolina fans on Jake Delhomme and John Kasay. The former quarterback and the current kicker are getting lots of votes in both categories and that makes some sense. I guess some Carolina fans look at Delhomme’s whole time there and appreciate his contributions, while others are focusing on the quarterback’s horrible final season. Kind of the same with Kasay, the last original Panther. He’s getting a lot of credit for his longevity and the way he carries himself. But there also seem to be a lot of Carolina fans with long memories, who can’t forget Kasay’s lousy kickoff late in the team’s only Super Bowl.
  • Speaking of fans with long memories, Hugh Culverhouse’s name seems to be coming in on quite a few ballots in the Tampa Bay precinct and they’re not checking off the most beloved box. Tampa often gets labeled as a town full of transplants. But this shows me that Tampa Bay fans haven’t forgotten Culverhouse, the team’s original owner, and how bad things were in the early years. Bo Jackson also is getting some votes. Even though he never played for the Bucs, let’s make it clear he’s eligible. The Bucs used a top draft pick on Jackson and it turned out to be a waste when he decided he didn’t want to play for the franchise.
  • I can’t say there’s anything remarkable coming out of the Atlanta precinct. As you might expect, Bobby Petrino and Michael Vick are dominating the disliked category. Lots of beloved votes are coming in too, but I don’t see anyone running away in that category so far.
  • Saints fans are voting the way you’d expect. Drew Brees is getting a lot of beloved votes. Aaron Brooks, Mike Ditka, Tom Benson and Ricky Williams are all running strong campaigns in the disliked category.

We’ll close this out by sharing one New Orleans ballot that I thought was pretty unique and cool.
  • Scott in St. Amant, La., writes: I'll throw a slight curve here and say Jim Henderson of WWL TV and Radio. He's been the radio play-by-play man for the Saints since 86, and the sports anchor for WWL TV since the late 70's. The radio broadcast of Saints games is such a local institution that everyone has at least one family member who insists on playing the radio broadcast alongside the TV one. Jim Henderson has been the calm in the storm through many years of Saints fans pulling their hair out at the teams bad decisions, bad play, and just plain bad luck, while his rare, well thought out and scathing rants are a sign of impending regime change. He has become as much a part of the local Saints experience in the last quarter century as old- time baseball announcers like Ernie Harwell and Harry Caray were for their teams.

NFC South polls are now open

August, 30, 2010
It started as a suggestion from loyal reader Mark H. in Greensboro, N.C., and it quickly has grown into what I think could be one of the more interesting projects we’ve ever attempted on the NFC South blog.

Mark’s basic suggestion was to pick the most disliked person for every NFC South team.

We’ve kicked around parameters for this and you have been phenomenal about providing input to make this work. While on the basketball court, which is where I do some of my best thinking, Sunday afternoon, I thought of a whole other layer for this project. I thought of also including a vote to see who is the most beloved figure for each NFC South franchise and we’re going to do that.

I’ve also settled on the parameters and here they are:
  • Send votes for the figure you dislike most from your team and the most beloved figure from your team to my mailbag. Some of you have already voted, but that was before we set the rules or added the beloved category. So those votes won’t count. Fire away with your new ones and specify the team and the disliked and beloved figures clearly.
  • By “figure,’’ I mean anyone associated with your favorite team. That means players, coaches, general managers and owners. For the beloved category, I’d even nominate Carolina equipment manager Jackie Miles, a legend in his own right, and Jill Hobbs, who started working as a secretary for the Buccaneers back in 1976 when she was something like 4 years old.
  • After a lot of debate, we’re going to open the time frame up on this to the entire history of each franchise. There was some debate about limiting it to current figures or starting the clock when the NFC South officially became a division in 2002. But the narrow consensus was to make it for the entire history of each franchise. In other words, figures such as Hugh Culverhouse, Doug Williams, Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Kerry Collins, Sam Mills, George Seifert, Archie Manning, Mike Ditka, Jeff George and Tommy Nobis are as eligible as figures like Drew Brees, the Glazer family, Matt Ryan and Sean Payton are. I’m not implying disliked or beloved for any of those figures. I’m just using their names to illustrate the time frame. Let’s please avoid the votes for guys who only had a cup of coffee in the NFC South – Reggie White, Brett Favre, etc.
  • I can’t ask this one strongly enough: Please limit your votes only for your favorite team. If we let Atlanta fans list Brees as a disliked figure or allowed former Carolina punter Todd Sauerbrun to vote for Martin Gramatica, we’d turn this thing into a shouting match and that’s not the goal of this project.
  • If you only want to vote for a beloved figure or only want to vote for a disliked figure from your team, that’s fine. Your vote will still count.
  • With each of your votes, feel free to include a little of your reasoning. We’ll use some samples when we post the results, so keep them clean and at least try to make the grammar reasonable.
  • Carolina fans, I’m going to impose one special rule on you. Do not vote for Rae Carruth. He’s ineligible and any votes for him will not be counted. I understand the venom for Carruth. What he was convicted of was beyond terrible, but it went way beyond the scope of football. So let’s just leave that one alone.
  • Other guys who have had off-field troubles for any of the four teams are eligible.
  • To ensure the integrity and the accuracy of the voting results, I’ve gone out and hired a prestigious accounting firm to tabulate the votes. Well, wait, I wasn’t able to afford that. But I’ve done something even better. I’ve turned to my alma mater, Saint Leo University, and enlisted the help of Kevin Little, who I’ve been doing some career mentoring with. Kevin is a Sports Business major with a keen interest in the NFL and numbers. Kevin’s agreed to help me tabulate the results.
  • I haven’t set an official date for the closing of the polls or when we’ll run separate posts on the winners in both categories for each franchise. We’ll just kind of play that by ear, but I’m hoping to have it ready for sometime right around the start of the regular season.