Sean Pendergast

Deshaun Watson Listed as 5th Most Despised NFL Figure

Deshaun Watson is not beloved among folks who follow the NFL on social media, not at all.
Deshaun Watson is not beloved among folks who follow the NFL on social media, not at all. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Emotion is the petroleum for the engine that drives the sports world. Without it, there are no ticket sales, no merchandise, and certainly no sports talk radio, television, or writing. People consume sports because it makes them feel a certain kind of way, and the key is for the emotion to swing to one end of the spectrum or the other. It can't sit in the middle. That's called apathy.

The National Football League is, far and away, the most popular sports league in this country, by virtually every important metric, which means that people are emotionally invested in it. They Aveo their guys, they hate the opposition. Those are normal sports emotions. However, there is that next level of sports hatred, where sports fans, diehard and casual, just out and out despise a sports figure for any number of reasons, on the field or off of it.

Fortunately, we live in a data driven, online era where we can actually quantify and measure important things like "Exactly HOW despised is this person?" That's very important, not just to hate, but to know exactly HOW MUCH we are hating somebody. Very healthy! (For the comedically challenged, I'm being sarcastic.)

So in 2022, what better way than Twitter to answer the question "Who are the most despised NFL figures among fans?" The good folks at came up with a way to measure vitriol toward NFL figures. Here's what they did:
"This conclusion was derived after more than a million tweets were analyzed by keyword association. Negative phrases such as 'I hate Aaron Rodgers,' 'Antonio Brown sucks,' 'F**ck Roger Goodell,' 'Cam Newton is horrible,' etc. were included in the study that spanned the month of December. January and February were not included so the findings wouldn't be swayed by the playoff participants."
Again, courtesy of, here are the results:
Aaron Rodgers - 266,850
Antonio Brown - 107,379
Bill Belichick - 88,482
Odell Beckham Jr. - 84,399
Deshaun Watson - 75,210
Jackson Mahomes - 71,349
Tyreek Hill - 62,379
Roger Goodell - 59,731
Baker Mayfield - 51,285
Dan Snyder - 48,529
Cam Newton - 28,467
Jerry Jones - 24,602
Kirk Cousins - 19,056
Josh McDaniels - 16,008
DeSean Jackson - 13,598
Jalen Ramsey - 11,278
Brittany Matthews - 10,404
Richard Sherman - 8,562
Ezekiel Elliott - 6,640
Robert Kraft - 5,362
All right, a few thoughts on this list, which Aaron Rodgers won in a similar landslide to the manner in which he won his second consecutive league MVP award a month or so ago:

The timing lines up with COVID being a big driver for these results
If you're wondering how Rodgers and Brown could win by such a wide margin, I'm sure the first thing that pops into your mind is that both have a certain un-likability about them that would seem to drive the hate. However, I will also remind you that this curating of tweets took place over the course of December 2021, when we were still dealing with Omicron spikes, and Rodgers and Brown were perhaps the two foremost violators of society's perceptual COVID codes. Rodgers, it was revealed, was not vaccinated, despite telling reporters he was "immunized" during training camp. Brown was suspended for three games for using a fake COVID vaccine card. I'm not sure if any of you have noticed, but social media is kind of a war zone for hot COVID takes and vaccination rhetoric. It's not at all surprising that Rodgers and Brown did not score well that month in popularity.

Deshaun Watson being rated fifth is a daunting message for his brand
Since March of 2021, when the civil lawsuits began piling up against Watson, there have been certain times on the calendar when the Watson news cycle has spiked, such as during trading camp and at the November trade deadline. The month of December was not one of those times, though. In fact, it was a pretty dead time for Watson news, which makes his finishing fifth in the hatred polls a pretty remarkable accomplishment, and an indicator that Watson has a massive uphill climb whenever he returns, not just in clearing his name, but in restoring some semblance of popularity.

How about the non-NFL employees on the list!
Of the names on the list, most of them are players, some of them are in positions of power, and then the rest are obnoxious relatives of Patrick Mahomes (We will give them the acronym "OROPM.") Mahomes' brother, Jackson Mahomes, is a social media influencer and Tok Tok sensation, who is probably best known for riding the gravy train that is his brother to some modicum of counterfeit fame. Mahomes' fiancee, Brittany Matthews, is best known for being super obnoxious in celebrating Chiefs' wins and for having a gigantic mouth, both literally and figuratively.

Along those lines, here is the vocational breakdown of these 20 names

QUARTERBACK(5): Rodgers, Watson, Mayfield, Newton, Cousins
RUNNING BACK (1): Elliott
WIDE RECEIVER (4): Brown, Beckham, Hill, Jackson
CORNERBACK (2): Ramsey, Sherman
COACH (2): Belichick, McDaniels
OWNER (3): Snyder, Jones, Kraft
OROPM's (2): J. Mahomes, Matthews

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast