"Let the hate flow through you." - Emperor Palpatine, "Star Wars, Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)"
The hate flows through millions of NFL fans, not to mention hundreds of players and coaches, across the world and the United States, up the East Coast and right to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
A very-unscientific-but-interesting poll via the NFL Reddit and shared by CBSSports.com and other sites detailed what fans in each state tabbed as their most-hated NFL team. As the chart above demonstrates, much of the hate is based on long-time, geographical rivals.
But not all.
According to these maps, created by Kyle McCrum, the Patriots are the most-hated team in the United States when it comes to the all-important Electoral College. The Patriots earned most-hated status in New York, Florida and Indiana. giving the team 69 NFL Hate Electoral Votes. The Super Bowl champion Seahawks, who carried the electoral mother lode of California, in addition to Nevada and Utah, finished second with 67.
This hatred of Patriot Nation dominates the globe, as well. The same poll found the Patriots topping the hate charts in both South America and Asia. Those two continents combined have more than 4.7 billion people, which is nearly two-thirds of the world's population.
Certainly, many of the fans from around the world are American expatriates (or even ex-Patriots fans). But how does someone who is a native to Australia, South America or Africa grow to "hate" an NFL team? That's a good question for which I have no answers.
The map of worldwide NFL hate gives the 49ers the edge when it comes to the U.S. popular vote, but we know that doesn't count when it comes to elections.
The Washington Redskins (apologies if you're offended) are nowhere on either map. Fans, is seems, are able to separate the issues over the team's nickname from hating the team and players themselves.
This isn't Gallup or Nate Silver. It's not surprising that even an informal social media poll would find wide-spread revulsion for the Patriots. This just reinforces a long-held belief of mine and others that success (as well as familiarity) breeds envy and contempt. It's interesting, too, that the Patriots carried Florida in this survey given the extensive support the team receives whenever it plays in Jacksonville, Miami or Tampa Bay. Patriots bumper-stickers and hats are common-place in Central Florida, and not just because Lake Brantley High School (alma mater of Jason Varitek) calls its teams the Patriots with the blessing of the NFL franchise.
It's not just those three Super Bowls, 11 division titles since 2001 and 148 regular-season victories brought to you by Tom Brady that anger so much of the NFL universe. There are those, like Cary Williams of the Eagles and the owner of this Arby's in Richmond, Va., who remain overly obessed with "SpyGate."
Once and for all, how did videotaping the Jets' defensive signals in 2007 enable Adam Vinatieri to make those two kicks in the snow against the Raiders? Or the three kicks Vinatieri made that gave the team the margin of victory in its three Super Bowl wins? Or help Brady drive the Patriots downfield after John Madden told them to play for overtime? Or tell Donovan McNabb to stroll to the line of scrimmage in the waning moments of Super Bowl XXXIX? Or propel Willie McGinest any quicker with it came time to smash into the face of Rams QB Kurt Warner?
Answer, they didn't.
THE ... VIDEOTAPING ... OF ... THE ... RAMS ... WALK-THROUGH ... NEVER ... HAPPENED.
Remembering that fact is vital when discussing "SpyGate," no matter the tone of the conversation.
For sure, "SpyGate" will never go away for many until the Patriots, Brady, and Bill Belichick win a fourth Super Bowl. But hate fueled by envy and caused by failure - see the entire Jets organization since Broadway Joe's "guarantee" in 1969 - does not negate the Patriots' long-term success.
Sadly, there was plenty of hatred in the Patriots pipeline long before the Aaron Hernandez mess. Hating the Patriots for his actions makes little sense when you consider the team cut Hernandez before he was arrested, has been vigilant about not paying him, and no evidence has surfaced that they knew of his criminal actions before his arrest for either crime.
Earning "most-hated" status, regardless of how scientific the survey, takes a lot of work. You have to be good to be hated so much. A similar survey found the Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Red Sox among the most-hated baseball teams. Three of those teams have won a World Series in the past five years.
No one hates the Tampa Bay Bucs, Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans unless they're given a specific reason or paid to do so. The Jets carried five of the six New England states with the Dallas Cowboys winning Rhode Island in an upset. Given the political shenanigans commonplace in Rhode Island, that vote is surely subject to a recount.
The Patriots are the "Most-Hated NFL Team in the World" because they are good. No, they are damn good at what they do. Much of the world isn't. Much of the world is buried by failure, inadequacies and negativity. It's always easier to hate than to emulate.
Common sense once dictated that successful teams like the Patriots, 49ers and Seahawks would be celebrated in areas where they don't pose a natural geographic rivalry. But the 49ers are the most-hated team in their home state. Raiders fans are rabid for sure, but that doesn't justify all of it. And what have the Seahawks done to California outside San Francisco? Wouldn't those fans who hate the 49ers naturally support the Seahawks?
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that.
Same with the Patriots. They have a historic rivalry with the Dolphins in Florida, but so do the Jets. The Bucs play in the NFC. The Jaguars? Hating them is like rooting against homeless pets. No, the Patriots are reviled in the Sunshine and Hoosier States, because they have inflicted more pain upon those fans than anyone else.
When it comes to hate, little makes sense beyond the basic fact that you often hate someone because they have something you don't have or they pose a threat to what you do have.
The Patriots have all that, plus the best-looking QB this side of the Legends (aka Lingerie) League and a coach whose personality mirrors just about any of the bad guys in the Marvel "Avengers" series.
Thankfully, the Patriots remain good enough to be hated around the world. The day they're no longer hated so much will be day after they finish the season 8-8 with Jimmy Garoppolo running the offense for head coach Josh McDaniels.
In the meantime, "let the hate flow through" the rest of the NFL.
The AFC East, meanwhile, still goes through Foxborough.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit up Bill on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
Obnoxious Boston Fan Email Address. Thanks always for reading.
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