PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — A few nights ago on the show we discussed villainous teams and players in sports–ones that you loved to root against, but also ones that caused you a lot of pain as a sports fan. With that in mind, and because the Miami Heat are now in the NBA Finals, and they’re the ultimate sports villain right now, here is my list of the top 5 Pittsburgh sports villains of all-time.
5. Adam Graves: The Rangers winger really needs no introduction, at least if he’s being included on this list. Any time you blatantly slash the wrist of a guy that was the NHL’s most dominant player at the time and arguably its best ever, you warrant inclusion on this list. Lemieux ended up missing five games, still won the Conn Smythe, and the Pens won the Stanley Cup, but it was such a bush league move that many Pittsburgh sports fans remember it almost as vividly as they do all the positive memories from that championship run.
4. The Atlanta Braves: Pretty self-explanatory here too. The Braves broke the hearts of Pirates fans everywhere two years in a row, and if that wasn’t enough reason to loathe them, they also had Ted Turner as an owner, who was about as ego maniacal as they come. If you’re of the belief that Pittsburgh is a blue collar town through and through, chances are you didn’t much like Turner or his team, and the fact that they were responsible for one of the absolute most painful losses in sports history in 1992 doesn’t help matters either. Oh, and they had Mark Lemke, who infuriated 7-year-old Chris for no real good reason at all.
3. Ray Lewis: What bothers you most about this guy? Is it the fact that he turned on his friends to plead out of a double murder rap? Is it the fact that he dances like a Elaine Benes on ecstasy after what seems like every tackle? Perhaps the fact that the national media treats him with reverence and portrays him as a wise elder statesman and positive role model for younger players when, again, he turned on his friends to plead out of a double murder charge? Is it the countless puff pieces done about all his good deeds? Seriously, take your pick. I won’t deny for a second that the guy is a no doubt Hall of Famer and a tremendously intense player, and it’s not my place to judge whether he’s truly changed or not, but it still makes my stomach turn when he makes a tackle.
2. Tom Brady: Same category as Lewis, somehow a bigger villain, mainly because Lewis hasn’t had any post-season success against the Steelers. I won’t deny that this guy is an all-time great and all that other stuff, but the fact that he seems to be extra unstoppable against the Steelers makes him even more annoying. I honestly cringe when I see Brady line up on the other side of the ball, because with few exceptions, he’s torched the Steelers like few others. Also, the fact that he’s married to one of the most beautiful women in the world, and the fact that he dumped a pretty attractive actress to start dating said beautiful woman, doesn’t exactly endear him to me. Mostly though, it’s the fact that he’s a pretty boy who’s also very good, and who the Steelers still haven’t solved in a big game. It might make me a bad person (actually, I’m sure it does), but a small part of me cheered when he suffered his knee injury.
1. Sid Bream: It couldn’t be anyone else. Brady might have killed the Steelers in an AFC Title game, and Lewis is just flat out annoying, but neither guy has lumbered around the bases on a gimpy knee to set in motion 18 years (and counting) of losing. Sid Bream might well be one of the five slowest players in MLB history, and on that night he was almost certainly the slowest, but somehow he beat the throw from Bonds and the Pirates have never been the same since. So, Bream might be a really nice guy overall, or so I’ve heard, but when it comes to sports villains for Pittsburgh fans, no one else is even close.
Have at it with your picks for biggest sports villains in the comments.