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|Alex Rodriguez may be disliked, but he's a great role model for the One Percent.|
A new list of America's 10 most disliked athletes, released following a recent Nielsen poll, shows that our nation is pretty predictable as far as hatred goes. LeBron, Tiger, Kobe, A-Rod. The usual suspects. Other dishonorees include Kurt Busch, Kris Humphries, and Ndamukong Suh, all of whom put in a lot of elbow grease this past year to secure a spot on the list.
But we like to keep our glass half full here at Page 2, and while most of these guys have earned their fair share of kicks to the groin, that doesn't mean we need to deliver them. As we learned when the Grinch stole Christmas, a cheerful spirit can rehabilitate even the most miserable, jerky-hearted individuals among us. So with this in mind, here's a sunny heap of optimism to prove that there's a lot to like about even our most disliked athletes.
Though he's probably blown his shot at ever having a cameo in an Air Bud movie, he's abiding with a whole bunch of different laws these days. At least 10. And compared to his little brother Marcus, he's pretty much Mr. Rogers with a mad rushing game.
Can the dude rock a red polo shirt or what? And though his ranking has plummeted since his glory days, he's still probably one of the top five most dominant African-American/Asian/Native American guys on the PGA Tour.
He might be a class C violent felon, but he's class B wide receiver and a Super Bowl champion to boot. Also, Plaxico would make a great name for an indie band.
Ndamukong Donated $2.6 million to his alma mater before he was ever even drafted, when he totally could've done it a couple years later to buy back the respect of his fans. But he didn't. And pretty much everyone* agrees that he's not a jerk (*everyone = Portland police officer Peter Simpson). Also, the guy looks way more cuddly than his name -- Ndamukong means "House of Spears" -- would imply.
Say what you will about his succinct marriage to a cartoon buttocks with arms, but at least he's dusted himself off and is doing all he can to keep his team above a .300 win percentage. And his tabloid celebrity has ensured that hometown fans will shell out the big bucks to see him play.
Wears nice clothes.
Kobe Bryant may do bad things, but he goes to church to get absolved for those bad things. And then he has to get absolved for the bad things he does at church. But he makes church less boring, and for that he deserves some praise.
Hypnotically white teeth. Has really cut back on his costly child support habit. With a fresh start in the Indoor Football League, the 38-year-old finally has a chance to break out some of the more intimate, avant-garde touchdown celebrations that wouldn't have worked on the big stage. He's got a bright future!
Having been involved with Shrek's wife, a girl wrestler, and the fun grandma from the Super Bowl halftime show, A-Rod's love life is an inspiration to every fourth-grade boy in the country. And as a guy who makes 18K an inning, he gives One Percenters everywhere the courage to keep fighting the good fight.
His hot-headedness might've led to him and Penske Racing parting ways, but his aggressive, confrontational driving style lets us imagine what it would've been like if Dale Earnhardt had had a son who was also a stock car driver. And he has time and again disproved the myth that "slow and steady wins the race".
Steve Etheridge is a Chicago-based writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @stetheridge.
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