Poor Michael Vick. His annoying hamstring injury has him on the Philadelphia Eagles bench, confined to watching Nick Foles run the offense. And now we find out that the dark cloud that began hovering over him years ago – the one that followed a prison term for his part in a dog fighting ring - has barely budged. [gallery2012]
It’s been more than four years since Vick was released from federal prison, where he served 19 months for bankrolling the dog fighting operation. He’s performed well and avoided trouble ever since. Yet he hasn’t stopped showing up at our near the top of our various annual lists of disliked athletes. This year, he tops our list of Most Disliked NFL Players, according to the latest surveys from E-Poll Market Research, a California-based firm whose E-Score measures public opinion of thousands of celebrities based on likeability, awareness, confidence and many other attributes. Pollsters have told us on a few occasions that while Vick scores well with hardcore NFL fans, the casual fan component still identifies him mostly with the legal woes of a few years ago.
The scientific surveys are conducted as representative samples from 1,100 people age 13 and up. We counted only currently active NFL players whose awareness registered a minimum of 10% with the public. According to the E-Poll numbers, 53% of respondents expressed dislike for Vick. He may not be sweating it too much, though. Vick has rolled up quite a few endorsements during his comeback, including a return engagement with Nike. Yes – at least football fans are ok with him.
Coming in a few points behind Vick: San Diego Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o, who scores at 48% dislike thanks to last year’s bizarre “fake girlfriend” episode toward the end of his college career at Notre Dame. With a foot injury limiting his playing time as an NFL rookie, Te’o simply hasn’t had the chance to turn attention away from the old drama.
“I think this will stay with him until he gets the chance to prove them wrong,” says E-Poll chief executive Gerry Philpott.
Detroit Lions linemen Ndamukong Suh (43% dislike), known for decorating his toughness with the occasional cheap shot, isn’t far behind.
Then there’s the most surprising name: New England quarterback Tom Brady, a three-time Super Bowl winner blessed with looks, talent and a model wife, who makes about $7 million annually in endorsements, clocks in with a 25% dislike score. Then again, maybe it’s not so surprising. When you have everything, a lot of people can’t identify. With Brady, E-Poll’s numbers show that woman love the guy, but a lot of men see him an upper crust pretty boy. “He’s not the guy you think would come to your house and watch the Super Bowl with a couple of beers,” says Philpott. Of course, some of those quarterbacks who recently made our Most Liked list – Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers – probably wouldn’t do that either. They just seem like the type who would. Perception is everything.
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