Monday, March 16, 2009

Football players I hate

There are many reasons to hate a player. Most are rational: He beat your favorite team (like, say, Brett Favre), he plays/played for your team and he is/was awful (like, say, Troy Williamson), or he's just a jerk (like, say, Terrell Owens).

Me, I work differently. I find single, specific incidents regarding players most people don't have any strong feelings about and I let my hatred fester and linger for years, like a cancerous lump on my soul, devouring all that is good and emerging as a bitter flinch or curse word whenever that player comes up in conversation (or on TV). For hatred this black, you need a very special and personal reason to dislike someone. It's not as simple as my disliking guys, it's a unique experience that only I know the depths of.

What follows is a little of my hate:

Greg Ellis. The longtime Cowboys defensive end has scored one touchdown on an interception return in his career. It came in his second season with the Cowboys. In week two, the Cowboys played the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. With the Cowboys leading by 10 and less than a minute to go, the Falcons are driving, but probably don't have much hope. Just in case, Ellis picks off a pass and the d-lineman scampers 87(!) yards for the nigh-meaningless touchdown.

The problem? I was playing against Ellis in not one, but two fantasy leagues that week. In the first, I wound up tying a guy with the Dallas defense, and in the other, which was utilizing individual defensive players, my opponent had Ellis and beat me by one! I was probably asleep by the time Ellis made his back-breaking play that had no real effect on the outcome of the game but screwed me out of 1 1/2 victories in two leagues in one fell swoop. Thus, the hate.

Joe Klopfenstein. When I worked at Press Pass Inc., we would have a few days out of every spring when we'd have to count and do quality control on the autographed cards that came in. Out of anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 cards per player, you might toss out about a dozen cards or so that have dinged corners, or the signature is smudged, or whatever.

In 2006, my first time counting cards for the company, I drew Colorado tight end Joe Klopfenstein, who's managed only 33 catches in his three years as a pro with the Rams. it's not because he has hands of stone -- stone doesn't smudge. Maybe he's got "hands of oil," becuase that might explain why nearly half of his signature cards were unusable. There were long stretches of counting where I'd have more cards in the "rejected" pile than I had in the "approved" pile.

Naturally, this soured me on the whole process, and I was afraid that every player would be like this, but I never found another guy nearly as bad as #*$&@ Klopfenstein (which was the name of my fantasy team one year). It means that if you have one of these, it's rarer than it looks, because it was one of the few that passed muster. (Though it is kinda neat to see something on eBay you know you handled personally.)

I'm sure there are other players I hate, but I'm too angry to think of them right now.

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