- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.