Philadelphia fans have long been vilified as the worst in the country. We "booed Santa", we "threw batteries at J.D. Drew"(hey, he deserved it), we "puke on little girls", etc. Not once in my life have I been embarrassed to call myself a Philadelphia fan. In fact, I have been proud, despite the fact that I don't always agree with the actions of few. We are passionate, we are loyal, we love our teams more than our own families. But there comes a point when we have to stop hating our star athletes. We are all guilty of it, myself included. I will admit, I get annoyed with some of the athletes we have that underperform while being overpaid. But it's time we be realistic. We are stuck with these guys, and we need to learn to embrace them. I will be playing the role of Devil's advocate today. I know not all of you will agree with me. I expect the stereotypical "Lay off the crack" or "You're high" comments. But you know what? I have come to embrace all of our athletes here in Philadelphia(except Lou Williams) and I am a much happier fan.
Andre Iguodala - He makes a lot of money. And I do mean a lot. But let's face it. He has been with us for so long, that getting rid of him would seem absurd. We always want our stars to remain loyal to the teams that drafted them. Well here is one that actually did. Dre joined the teamin 2004, when the Sixers were becoming a sinking ship. He has posted respectable career numbers of 15-6-5 over his career, and he has done it all through the constant trade rumors and disdain from the fans. You know how when you talk to a plant, it grows better? Well, the same goes for people. Players underperform when they are booed. They play better when the crowd cheers their name. I know that the contract is high. But he has talent. He is clutch(when Collins lets him be). And he is our star. He has been since 2007 and he will be for quite some time. I am happy we have him, and I think, if he can play his role on the team, and not the role Doug wants him to play, he will become a 20-10 guy.
DeSean Jackson: Ok, this one is more recent, and he is far from being overpaid. But if you watched Sunday's game against the Patriots, you know he dropped two passes in the end zone. Yes, those drops were huge. Did they cost the Eagles the game? Who knows. But he dropped them, and now the fans want him dropped from the roster. Why? He has become an elite receiver in the NFL. He is not just a one trick pony. He goes across the middle. He doesn't always shy away from contact. He is a play-maker, he has made 2 pro-bowls in a 4 year career, and he has done it all while making minimum wage. How many of you perform your best at a job that pays you less than people who aren't doing as much work? How many of you would work your heart out for a company that alludes to the fact that they may not want you? Give the guy a break. Everyone drops passes. But we need DeSean Jackson, because we need a deep threat target who can also play slot. We need the attitude. He's the receiver we deserve, but not the one we need right now. If we let him walk, we'll see just how important he was to our past success.
other notable hated athletes: Donovan McNabb, Brandon Graham, Asante Samuel
Ryan Howard: Another humongous contract. His contract is so big, he scoffs at Iguodala's. But he is also vilified by the media and by the fans. Why? Because he doesn't hit a home run every time he's at the plate? Because he loves to swing at low and away? Because he's not very fast? Look, I admit, the strike outs bother me. But it is baseball. Strike outs happen. And home runs don't happen as often as you think. Despite what a lot of you say, Ryan Howard is clutch. Just because the 2011 NLDS ended on his ground out and the 2011 NLCS ended on his K, that doesn't mean he isn't clutch. Nobody gets a hit in every clutch situation. Howard was also the hero of game 1, when he served a Lohse fastball into deep center. Remember that? Howard was also 2009 NLCS MVP. This "what have you done for me lately" mentality needs to end. The strikeouts aren't as bad as they used to be. The power is still there. And he is with us through 2016. So get used to it.
other notable hated athletes: Kyle Kendrick, Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge
Scott Hartnell: Ok, this one is tough. It's tough because the Flyers players we used to boo are gone. Carter is gone. Richards is gone. The jury is still out on Breezy. So that leaves Scotty. And it is hard for me to justify the presence of a guy who lacks basic hockey skills, such as skating. But I guess I'll do it anyway. I've come this far. Hartnell has blown some games. He whiffs on easy shots, he misses clear passing lanes, and he takes ridiculous penalties. But he has heart. And a lot of it. There isn't any quit in Scott Hartnell. We know this because we see him crash the net over and over again, which accounts for a lot of his stupid penalties. You want your players to keep going til the play ends, and that is what Hartnell does. Is he deserving of his contract? No, but then, few people in hockey ever play up to their contracts. He also makes everyone him better, whether it is through comparison, or the fact that he is left open, we won't know. And he does score. Not a lot, but he does when we need him to. And that counts for something with me.
other notable hated athletes: Ilya Bryzgalov, Jody Shelley, Braydon Coburn