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10 Worst Sports Villains We Love To Hate

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10 Sports Villains We All Love To Hate

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Seemingly in all sports at any given time, there are a handful of athletes that the general population simply despises. Whether it be due to off-the-field issues, dirty play on the field or an attitude that people strongly dislike, there are always athletes that people will hate. For the most part, the better the player, the stronger the hatred is. Sometimes there are players that are hated yet respected, but there are other players that are only hated.

Single events or prolonged behavior can cause one fan base or several to dislike a player for the rest of their careers. It all depends on the situation. Other times, the hatred hinges on the overall success of the athlete. If the athlete is hated and then they're very successful, they're more likely to be hated because the general public will despise their success.

Even if they're not successful, the way some athletes act just rubs people the wrong way. Don't be mistaken, villains are necessary for sports. Without them, how would sports get their narrative? An element of great story telling is having a villain pitted against a hero, right? So while most people dislike them, they're essential to the entertainment of sports.

This list includes players past and present that always seem to have a negative connotation attached to their names. For several different reasons, these players aren't exactly the most liked in their respective leagues by players or fans. Some of these players will likely live in infamy, but for now, they're just on this list.

Jacob Kornhauser is a writer for RantSports.com. "Like" him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or add him to your Google+ network.

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10. Richie Incognito

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His well-publicized spat with teammate Jonathan Martin was just the tip of the iceberg in Incognito's rocky NFL career. While he's a solid contributor on the offensive line, he has a temper and has shown it at several times. Multiple times he has been flagged for unnecessary roughness and those were just precursors to the Jonathan Martin mess. He has now checked into a mental health facility after bashing up his own Ferrari with a baseball bat.

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9. Sean Avery

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Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

One of the dirtiest players in recent memory in the NHL, Sean Avery is hated by almost every fan base in the league. Routinely, Avery lays dirty hits on opposing players, including one incident where he purposely stepped on an opposing player's leg. Several suspensions have been levied against Avery, but that hasn't stopped him from developing the reputation of a villain.

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8. Roger Clemens

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Jared Wickerham - Getty Images

Clemens' villain stigma didn't develop until later in his career, but it came on nonetheless. First there was the incident in the 2000 World Series when he threw a broken bat at Mike Piazza as he ran down the first base line. Then there was the steroid scandal that he was involved in and it has all been downhill since then.

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7. Bill Romanowski

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Rusty Jarrett - Getty Images

Romanowski took his role as an intimidating linebacker in the NFL a bit too seriously during his playing career. At separate times, he has spit in an opponent's face, kicked an opposing player while they were on the ground and injured a teammate's eye enough that their career was effectively ended. Whether he was just trying to be intense or not, Romanowski developed a well-deserved reputation as a villain.

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6. Bill Laimbeer

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Jesse D. Garrabrant - Getty Images

Part of the "bad boys" Pistons teams of the late 80's and early 90's, Laimbeer was about as dirty a basketball player as you'll ever see. He was massive, so he used his height and size to his advantage and routinely took cheap shots at opposing players. Even the best player in basketball history wasn't off limits for Laimbeer who was central to the Pistons' "Jordan Rules" which basically stated they would foul Jordan hard anytime he got in the paint.

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5. Ndamukong Suh

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For good reason, Suh has developed the reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. He was suspended after stomping on the leg of a Green Bay Packers player and has thrown various forearms shivers to opposing players' heads. It's hard to tell if Suh is just blatantly playing dirty or if his physical style of play breeds those types of vicious hits, but nonetheless, people outside of Detroit tend to hate the defensive tackle.

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4. Ty Cobb

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Jonathan Daniel - Getty Images

While Cobb played a century ago, he was such a villain that he still makes it on this list. The all-time hits leader until Pete Rose broke his record, Cobb may have been the dirtiest player in sports history. Every time he slid into a base, he would go spikes up hoping to injure opposing players. There was also an incident in which he literally punched an umpire in the face. For that altercation, he was suspended just 10 games.

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3. Barry Bonds

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Thearon W. Henderson - Getty Images

Baseball's all-time home runs leader (*) was crowned a villain in the bestselling book Game of Shadows, but he did all the work on his own. Many feel that he cheated the game by taking steroids and tainting the sports' most coveted record and that's the main reason for his villain status. Fans of the Giants still love him, but outside of that he doesn't have many supporters.

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2. LeBron James

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Isaac Baldizon - Getty Images

When it's all said and done, LeBron will likely be the second-best player in the history of the NBA behind only Michael Jordan and that's a lot of the reason he's viewed as a villain. A key to his villain label was his famous "Decision" where he left his hometown team on national television. After that, his own hometown turned on him, chanting things like "Akron hates you" in his first game against his former team. As he continues to dazzle in the league, he will only gain more haters.

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1. Alex Rodriguez

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Usually even villains have supporters in some capacity, but you'd be hard pressed to find one for Alex Rodriguez at this point. He sued the very people who represented him and ticked a lot of people off. Various pitchers have insinuated that if he tried to play in Spring Training that they'd try to hit him. His own team and fans dislike him and don't want him around. Rodriguez's extremely egotistical personality and disconnect from reality have contributed to him being the most hated figure in sports today.