As the College Football world was focused on National Signing Day, Forbes released its list of most disliked athletes. The list is generated by public surveys conducted by Nielsen Sports and E-Poll, a market research firm. The group of disliked athletes is limited to those who have at least 10% public awareness.
The list features many of the usual suspects, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez.
However, a newcomer in the group was former Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o who was tied with Lance Armstrong as the most disliked athlete. Te’o scored only a 15% appeal rating.
Forbes wrote of Te’o:
Apparently the online girlfriend hoax wasn’t his idea, but most people figure he embellished the extent of the relationship for personal attention. Te’o’s appeal rating went from 88% to 15% almost overnight.
Despite the fact that he “embellished” parts of the story, it is hard to believe that the appeal that Te’o has dropped so significantly. The American public has basically deemed Te’o as bad as a cheater, a bully and an adulterer.
Morals aside, it is possible that the public was just tried of hearing about the story. The hoax got airtime on talk radio, news, daytime talk shows and mainstream sports outlets. People had Manti Te’o overload.
His story also has some of a “Lance Armstrong effect” to it. Lance Armstrong warmed our hearts and filled us with determination when he won seven Tour De France titles in a row after surviving cancer. Manti’s plot is the same. He overcame the death of his grandmother and his “girlfriend” to lead the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to an undefeated season and finish 2nd in the Heisman.
When people find out that those feel good stories are not true, they are devastated. They feel personally hurt by the fact that what they believed to be true is not.
It does not seem right that Te’o is so disliked. He is now a victim in a group of perpetrators. In time, however, this will pass. If Te’o continues to be the same person he always has been, he will change America’s mind.