The Sunday Question: The Team I Hate Is …

All of this talk about hate and haters from a certain quarter (largely an exercise in projection, I’d argue), got me to thinking …

Many fans of the four big North American professional leagues (MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA) love the sport being played and have passionate attachments to teams. Everyone knows, for example, that I root for the Yankees, NY Giants, and Islanders, although not necessarily in that order (I remain first and foremost a hockey fan, with baseball a close but distinct second). I also take at least a passing interest in other teams, although that changes over time, and that’s largely restricted to hockey. For example, when Brad Park was on the Bruins, I hoped they would do well except when they faced the Islanders; it was not until the 1993 playoffs that I had to choose between an interest in the Pens spurred by several acquisitions in 1990 and the Islanders, because the two teams did not meet in an important game until that spring (I chose the underdog Islanders, and I chose well). I also liked the Avalanche during the Sakic years, and there are the Arizona Coyotes to follow (except, of course, when they play the Islanders).

Oh, yes, that passion is stronger at some times than at others. I was annoyed at the Yankees for the 1975 and 1976 seasons, because the team traded away Bobby Murcer (I hate to admit it, but Reggie Jackson’s signing brought me back, so the 1976 season, aside from the ALCS that year, remains a blur, although I got a taste of the SF Giants and the Cubs while Murcer played for those teams). I don’t think a fan is obligated to support wholeheartedly a poorly-run team (I’m talking to you, Cubs fans, although that may have changed at last), so I can explain my unhappiness with the Islanders for nearly a decade in three words: Mike Milbury’s Fishsticks. That rule also applies to Don Mattingly’s Yankees: George Steinbrenner’s greatest contribution to the resurgence of the Yankees in the 1990s was being suspended. Nor can I recall much about the Giants in the Yale Bowl with Norm Snead or when people thought Scott Brunner was better than Phil Simms. But these things happen. I’ve never confused rooting for a team with choosing to torment myself.

However, we all have teams that we would never support, except perhaps in the most extreme of circumstances (think the Philadelphia Flyers against Soviet Red Army in 1976). For me, in football those teams are the Cowboys and the Raiders; in hockey the Oilers come to mind. Yes, I know, I know … I’m supposed to hate the Red Sox, but I don’t (although I have an extreme dislike for some of their fans … success has turned them into weak versions of obnoxious front-running Yankees fans (we are about to see who’s really a Yankee fan AJ [After Jeter]). I can’t even bring myself to hate the New York Rangers, because once upon a time they were the only team in town, although I had no use for the Blueshirts from the release of Rod Gilbert until the arrival of Henrik Lundqvist. Surely the Rangers, Flyers, and the Pens (thank largely to the venomous sarcasm of John Hennessy) rank near the bottom, but the Oilers have always had a home there. Yes, I liked Paul Coffey, largely because he played the game as if it was a pick-up effort (and he anticipated video game play), but I knew he couldn’t play defense a lick, so he’d never be Denis Potvin, who sacrificed some of his individual game to contribute to team success (like Steve Yzerman). I could respect Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, but I preferred Bryan Trottier as a more well-rounded player.

The Cowboys are easy to explain, and so I won’t, although I know have in-laws who are passionate Cowboys fans, which has ramped up the rivalry. As for the Raiders, when I was a boy I also rooted for the Jets of the Namath era (I lost some interest in the Giants after Fran Tarkenton returned to Minnesota). Back then I didn’t know you couldn’t root for both New York teams (although that became evident when the Islanders joined the NHL). The Raiders were dirty then, and as a game I enjoyed the 1968 AFL championship game even more than Super Bowl III.

As for that New York rule: yes, I rooted for both the Giants and Jets from the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, when I lost interest in pro football for about eight years; and as a boy I rooted for the Mets as well as the Yankees, because we were clearly a divided family (Dad leaned to the Yankees, while my mom, a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, transferred her allegiance to the Mets). Even then I preferred the Mantle/Murcer Yanks to the Seaver/Kranepool Mets. Still, I predicted that the Mets would overtake the Cubs and make the World Series in 1969 in the pages of our junior high school paper, and some forty years later at least one cantankerous cousin, a lifelong Mets fan, exploded when Newsday interviewed me about the 1969 Mets (living well is the best revenge). Back then I actually cared about the NBA (the Knicks) and the ABA (the Nets were first a Long Island team). As for the Rangers, as a kid I followed the Rangers, met many of them, and attended a hockey camp run by Rod Gilbert and Park, so the transfer of allegiance was a bit more challenging, although it was completed by the 1974-75 season (many of my Exeter classmates still think I’m a Rangers fan, largely because of the 1972 and 1973 playoff confrontations with the Bruins).

Thus, it’s hard for me to “hate” the Mets (easy to pity them) or the Jets (ditto), and I just don’t care for the Knicks (aside from a surge in the 1990s, you can date that from acquiring Mr. Sprewell) or the Nets (since they unloaded Dr. J as they fled to New Jersey). But I have no problem saying that I despise the Oilers, Cowboys, and Raiders.

How about you? Which three pro sports teams (or five, if you have a hard time restraining your bile) would we find at the bottom of your list? Which teams do you always root against? And it’s cheating to list college teams (or even semi-pro teams such as the University of Spoiled Children in SoCal). Nor can you invoke the Epperson quibble of debating the question instead of answering it.


41 thoughts on “The Sunday Question: The Team I Hate Is …

  1. Eric J. Wittenberg November 23, 2014 / 2:10 pm

    I think you know mine…

    The Dallas Cowpukes
    The Evil Empire, a/k/a New York Yankees
    Los Angeles Kings, largely because of Jeff Carter

  2. John Foskett November 23, 2014 / 2:12 pm

    (1) Montreal (2) The Habs (3) Les Canadiens. If I need a 4th, that orange-suited Bikers on Skates crowd from down I-95 (with the exception of David Poulin when he incongruously played there). Last, my baseball affiliation requires me to name this year’s World Series winner.

      • John Foskett November 24, 2014 / 9:09 am

        True, but I’m willing to cut the Buds a break (47 years and all that). What we really want is for the Nords to be revived. Think about it – Boston, Quebec City, Ottawa, and Toronto. We’d have that mental asylum surrounded. Not to mention a chance to re-enact the Good Friday Brawl. Think the ACW was “brother against brother”? How about the Hunters trying to eviscerate each other?

        • Phil LeDuc November 24, 2014 / 10:11 pm

          Ah, Les Canadiens – my team. I saw my first NHL hockey on TV when the 1971 Cup finals were televised. I knew the names Hull and Mikita and started out rooting for the Black Hawks, but then I became transfixed by Beliveau, Mahovlich, Savard, Dryden, et al, and was hooked forever. (Maybe all those French-Canadian names did it for someone with a name like mine.) I still watch my DVD of the Good Friday game, but the high point for me is watching Steve Shutt – one of the really good guys to play the game – put Montreal on the board in the third period and then tie the game moments later. It was his last hurrah. I guess I should say the team I learned to hate was the Bruins, but it wasn’t a hatred so much as a healthy dislike of a great rival. Besides, I still get too much of a kick out of Don Cherry.

          • John Foskett November 25, 2014 / 7:51 am

            Grapes is still entertaining, but his boat is a little far from its moorings these days. “Why is Tarannah drafting all of these foreigners and college guys? How about some good Canadian kids!!!???” I will ‘fess up to this – as much as I hate Les Habitantes and always have, I’ve also always liked no. 29 – regardless of what he did to the locals in 1971.

          • E.g. Schwetje November 25, 2014 / 3:04 pm

            Love the Habs! Lafleur was my boyhood hero. It goes without saying, I hate the Booins and Laffs. Chicago is the only original 6 team I would otherwise root for (Tony Espo was another boyhood hero). Since Brooks is an Isles fan thought I would share my favorite Isles memory. I was watching game 7 vs the Pens in ’93 in southern CA when David Volek potted the OT winner. The Habs who had an easy playoff to that point would face the Isles rather than the regular season and defending champion Pens in the conference final. The Habs wound up winning the Cup in 5 vs Gretzky and the Kings. Barry’s mullet was rockin’ back then.

  3. Pat Young November 23, 2014 / 3:20 pm

    I used to watch the Oilers play the Isles a lot at the Coliseum. You could build an annex at the Hall of Fame with guys on the ice back in the Potvin days.

    Hate the Cowboys and the Flyers.

  4. Nick Fry November 23, 2014 / 3:42 pm

    Dallas Cowboys-grew up in the DC/Baltimore suburbs
    New York Yankees-grew up in the Baltimore/DC suburbs
    Pittsburgh Penguins-grew up in the DC/Baltimore suburbs

    As much as I’ve abandoned the football team I grew up with and adopted the Ravens, I cannot bring myself to hate the Lower Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Peoples. I do dislike their owner immensely though.

    Now that I live in St. Louis, it’s interesting to see a city where I can honestly say they don’t “hate” any of their sports rivals. For an East Coaster these people (particularly Cardinals Nation) are maddeningly good sports.

      • Nick Fry November 25, 2014 / 12:34 am

        I’m not so sure about that. They are frustrated when the Cards lose to the Cubs, but more upset at the Cardinals. The Cubs fans seem to be regarded as poor misguided souls who are loyal to a fault. But perhaps my sample is too small. I’ll have to try to get to more games.

    • Joshism November 24, 2014 / 8:06 pm

      “Lower Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Peoples”

      I see someone else here is a fan of Gregg Easterbrook.

      • Nick Fry November 25, 2014 / 12:34 am

        🙂 It sings.

  5. jfepperson November 23, 2014 / 3:47 pm

    I get a quibble named after me?

    My list looks a lot like Eric’s, by pure coincidence:

    New York Yankees
    Dallas Cowboys

    Like many baseball fans with AL allegiances elsewhere than the Yankees, I learned to hate them as a youngster. This became interesting when my mother re-married, as one of my new step-brothers was (and remains) a die-hard Yankees fan.

    I am only a casual NFL fan, but I grew to hate Dallas about the time they became “America’s Team” (or, at least, tried to sell themselves that way.)

    I don’t like pro basketball, so I can’t say I hate any team. I’m only a very casual hockey fan, so haven’t yet developed a distaste for anyone.

  6. tcgreen November 23, 2014 / 5:51 pm

    Cowboys, Raiders, and Ravens, which I guess stands to reason–I’ve been a Steelers fan since 1975. I probably should say Clemson since am a South Carolina grad, but I honestly don’t dislike them nearly as much as many of my friends. I tend to dislike the Mets, but I can’t work up a good hatred of them.

  7. Chris Evans November 23, 2014 / 6:11 pm

    New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers (“Big Ben’s” personal ‘reputation’ really makes me dislike them.


  8. Al Hintz November 23, 2014 / 7:01 pm

    Number One, the Philadelphia Flyers because of Dave Schultz until Clark Gillies became my hero. Number Two, the New Jersey Nets, When they left Long Island, I left them. Number Three, the Yankees. You can’t be a Mets fan and hope for anything good to happen to the Yankees.

  9. Ira Berkowitz November 23, 2014 / 7:03 pm

    Fun question. I enjoy watching pro athletes generally. Really admire the level of talent and on court / field drama and competition (although am often troubled by the off the field issues). Born in NY the first team I loved was the Yankees (the Reggie Jackson years). But the team I really fell in love with as a kid and have followed passionately since my youth is the Lakers. Up or down. Good or bad I always admired the fast paced style of play.

    But to answer the question: When we moved to Phoenix I adopted the Suns and followed them closely through what were many dark years and then some ho hum and kind of competitive years . . . and then Mr. Colangelo got it together and put a winner on the court . . . drafted a very talented Dan Majerle and traded for Kevin Johnson and eventually added the final piece . . . love or hate him . . . Charles Barkley made the difference. He was the missing piece that made the Suns a title contender.

    I wasn’t sure about Charles at first, but that was only because I hadn’t seen him play much. He took a good team and made them great. The fellow was a dynamic, multi-faceted player that came with controversy . . . but also a lot of charm. And for a few years I had to manage the tension between my first love (a relatively weak Laker team) and my adopted love (the Suns).

    For 3 years those Suns teams were terrific. Kevin Johnson ran the floor at a hyper pace. Hornacek and Majerle were on the wings shooting long range shots and the Suns were right on the cusp of it . . . We had a solid 6 game series with the Bulls and then magically Michael decided to take a vacation and play baseball . . . of all things baseball! . . . it was all right in front of us . . . the rest of the East was weak . . . what could possibly go wrong . . . enter the Houston Rockets. The darn Houston Rockets. Talented, well coached and very tough. Still have not been able to forgive them.

    That 2nd and 3rd season of the Barkley run was just heart breaking. The Rockets and Suns played incredible basketball with clutch shooting by both teams and the Suns getting so close. I can still remember Sam Casell and Robert Horry. Just hated those guys (and when they later played for the Suns was absolutely stunned).

    That Suns Barkley team played at a high level for a few more years as I recall, but after those initial 3 there wasn’t any hope of a championship run in them . . . Off to the NBA wilderness we eventually went and Mr. Barkley headed for where . . . OMG . . . to play for the Houston Rockets!

    Years later the Suns put together another wonderful with Amare Stoudamire and Steve Nash. Amare’s career didn’t ever reach its full potential but for a few years there was an incredibly high level of play between the 2 of them. And except for an undisciplined reaction to a provocation by a former Rocket . . . the same Rocket who broke my heart all those years before . . . and the over reaction of a Commissioner trying to send a message on discipline . . . a terrific Suns Team was denied its chance at greatness by a very talented Spurs Team.

    And there you have my answer . . . the Houston Rocket and San Antonio Spurs . . . I respect both, but to this day have a difficult time watching either team. Just too many painful memories of NBA championship dreams denied.

    Happy holidays Professor Simpson! Thank you for the continued work on your wonderful Blog.

  10. Schroeder November 23, 2014 / 7:04 pm

    Diehard EAGLES and FLYERS fan here ~ prefer hockey to football.

    The Dallas Cowpatties are the ones that I loathe ~ but I have family in Texas who are fans… My ULTIMATE loathing is reserved for the Washington Deadskins ~ probably more so due to their fans.

    • Schroeder November 23, 2014 / 7:07 pm

      I do like the Steelers as well – tough as nails.

      @Eric ~ I will have to borrow the “Cowpuke” name when insulting my relatives. Thank you.

  11. Al Mackey November 23, 2014 / 9:11 pm

    As an Eagles fan, I’m required to hate the Cowboys. If I didn’t hate the Cowboys, I think Eric would probably get a bunch of fellow Eagles fans together and revoke my membership in Eagles fandom.

  12. jclark82 November 23, 2014 / 9:46 pm

    I really just have one team I can’t abide-the St. Louis Cardinals. They always have the measure of the Redlegs and their fans are absolutely insufferable.

  13. Andrew Raker November 23, 2014 / 9:58 pm

    I grew up with a strong dislike of Atlanta when they were in the NL West with the Reds (although ’76 was before my time, Brooks), which only grew stronger when I moved to DC and adopted the Nationals as my secondary team. I’m not sure if that is connected to my feelings about Sherman, though.

    But most of my hatred will be reserved for the Cardinals, even though they were my safe team to root for in the East since their AAA team was in Louisville. And while their move of that affiliation to Memphis opened up the way for the Reds to move their affiliation from Indianapolis, which has been good for me in the long run, it was still a moment of betrayal. The Cubs I hate mostly due to their fans. I just can’t quite figure out why anyone who cares about baseball would choose to support them, when there are better options in the Midwest.

    Outside of baseball, the only other professional team I have a real hatred towards in the Washington NFL team. Granted, a lot of that is because of the name (I did take an Indian history class in DC, after all), but even outside of graduate students in historians, the feelings I got among folks who didn’t grow up in DC was apathy, if not worse, which stood in stark contrast to the Nats. Granted, the Nats have the advantages of being in the District, close to the Metro, having lots of games, and actually being good at sports. But I feel like Dan Snyder runs that team with a total disregard for anything but the fans who have an irrational love of the team, which is offputting in more ways than one.

  14. Ned November 23, 2014 / 11:45 pm

    Much of my youth was spent in the Boston area where we are taught early what Eric W pointed out: The Evil Empire = The New York Yankees.

    I started watching basketball in the ’80s with the Bird – Magic rivalry. There was already a history of a Celtics – Lakers rivalry (see the 1960s); the 80s just added to it. My passion for the Cs has faded as they have declined and as I have moved around. But my dislike of the Lakers have never changed, especially as I have had a visceral reaction to some of the more recent players.

  15. Lyle Smith November 24, 2014 / 7:52 am

    I can honestly say I don’t hate any team. What’s wrong with all you people. 🙂

  16. Bob Pollock November 24, 2014 / 9:47 am

    I’m a Californian living in Missouri. I’m a Raiders fan – the team America loves to hate. I consider my allegiance to the Raiders as part of my California identity. I don’t care if they stay in Oakland or move back to LA., but I’ll be heartbroken if they move out of California. (I don’t think they will.)

    I’m sure you know, Brooks, that Al Davis was a New Yorker who grew up watching the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. I watched the NFL Network ” A Football Life” program on Al Davis and he talked about how he tried to apply lessons he learned from watching those successful teams to the Raiders.

    As far as the teams I hate:
    1. Denver Broncos
    2. Seattle Seahawks
    3. Dallas Cowboys

    • Joshism November 24, 2014 / 8:05 pm

      I didn’t realize anyone hated the Broncos, except maybe some Browns fans still crying about those playoff games in the 80s.

      • Andrew Raker November 25, 2014 / 12:02 pm

        I mentioned the Broncos in passing while living in Kansas (since I have family in Denver), and I was just about killed by the Kansas City fans. The same goes for Raiders fans, too. I have no idea why, I just know I’ve been scared when those rivals came up.

  17. Matt McKeon November 24, 2014 / 10:06 am

    Living in the Boston area, I’m supposed to hate the Yankees, but really, its two large corporations fielding mercenaries. I’d feel like idiot if I genuinely cared.

  18. Buck Buchanan November 24, 2014 / 1:56 pm

    Well I am a Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins & Celtics fan. My whole family does. So my team hatreds are by sport.


    The Yankees….because they are the Yankees. But I do respect the hell out of them.


    Les Habitants….the only thing good in Montreal is Labatts!

    Also the Penguins….because of the fans.


    The Lakers.

    Sidebar. I heard an interview with Jerry West early this year. He says he owns nothing which is green. I am that way about yellow….unless it Bruins Black & Gold!


    The Jets.
    I also hate the Steelers & Cowboys.

    I moved to DC when I was 12 so I learned to dislike the Cowboys…George Allen and all of that. Went to college 80 miles south of Pittsburgh 1976-1980 and the fans from Pittsburgh were horrible! Disloyal, always running the team down but then “We always loved you!” when they would have success later in the season. It could also be my ex-wife and her entire family were huge Steelers fans.

  19. Joshism November 24, 2014 / 8:03 pm

    My list will show that the only sport I really care about is football, although one baseball team gets on the list for all the obvious reasons. I’m a Miami Dolphins fan and I live in South Florida which basically gives me reason to hate everything related to the state of New York (and especially the city of New York) except Teddy Roosevelt, a few museums, and the Adirondacks.

    5) Yankees: see above
    4) Philly Eagles: because of the city and the fans, not for anything the team itself did
    3) Dallas Cowpukes: same reasons as everyone else, particularly all their asshat players
    2) Boston Patsies: only this high since Bill Belichick’s heel turn, but most Bostonians tend to be only slightly less insufferable than most Newyawkers
    1) NYC Jests: obnoxious coaches, obnoxious players, obnoxious fans, long and heated rivalry with the Fins

    Bills used to be on the list for their heated rivalry with the Fins and obnoxious fans, but they’ve been such a joke during most of the last decade they’ve fallen out of the Top 5.

    There’s only two college teams I hate: Alabama (redneck state and Little Nicky Saban is a weasel) and the Miami Hurricanes (neutral on the UF-FSU rivalry; I hate them for being a bunch of coked up punks, and for playing spoilers to WVU on several occasions when they were both in the Big East)

  20. Buck Buchanan November 25, 2014 / 7:00 am


    As a proud Mountaineer (Class of 80) I totally concur with you on Miami.

  21. Christopher Shelley November 25, 2014 / 11:55 am

    Being a true-blue Dodger fan (born in ’63, the year Koufax and Drysdale swept the Yanks in the Series–the first time the Yanks were ever in the Series), I am contractually obligated to hate the Giants, no matter how likeable this current club seems. As a California kid, the LA-SF, NorCal-SoCal rivalry was central to sports on the West Coast. When I first heard that the Yanks and Red Sox had a rivalry, I thought “Oh, it’s like the Dodgers-Giants, only colder.” More loathsome than the Giants are Giant fans, who somehow still remain strangely insecure even after three WS in five years. The Yankees Evil Empire are hated club #2.

  22. Aaron b. November 25, 2014 / 2:42 pm

    If the Dodgers never won another game in their existence, I would not shed a single tear for them. The past five seasons have been especially refreshing, because while the Dodgers (still) haven’t won a World Series since Hirohito was alive, the Giants hadn’t won one since they were in New York (which doesn’t count). It’s also been great over the years to laugh at Dodgers’ fans hypocrisy, whether with the revelations that their franchise was also full of PED players (not that the fans who gave Manny a standing ovation upon his return from his suspension cared, nor do I really) or putting up with Brian Wilson’s antics instead of lambasting them. And all the money in the world still can’t buy championships, even if it does help.

  23. jarretr November 25, 2014 / 3:39 pm

    Pardon my bluntness, but the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox can burn in Hell.

  24. HBM November 26, 2014 / 6:39 pm

    Only one pro team for me: Atlanta Braves – As a Pittsburgh native … enough said.

  25. gregdehler November 30, 2014 / 6:46 am

    New York Giants! Guilt by association. I grew up on Long Island and every jerk I met in my life was a diehard Giants Fan (not that all Giants fans are jerks, mind you, many are not!) wearing an LT jersey. New York Rangers are a close second.

  26. Ethan December 4, 2014 / 8:39 am

    As a Washington Redskins fan who has in their infinite wisdom passed that on to my daughter, it is impossible for me to hate a team more than I hate the Washington Redskins.

    • Ethan December 4, 2014 / 8:40 am

      That is not a typo.

  27. pete June 8, 2015 / 3:29 pm


    The Evil, Evil Yankees (been a mostly disappointed Mets fan my whole life);
    the Cowboys and Patriots in football; and Duke in college hoops. All completely loathsome.

    On the ice I can’t stand the Flyers (their fans are animals) nor the Islanders.

    Granted, the Islanders have been a pathetic mess for many seasons, but I still vividly recall them as an insufferable Goliath with a bandwagoneering following. Now that they are moving to my home borough of Brooklyn, perhaps I can drum up some renewed distaste for them.

    And like all Ranger fans I reserve plenty of bile for our very own front office as well as Dolan and the suits at Madison Square Garden…

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