By Paul Katcher
Special to Page 3
Hate is a strong word. But that's how the old saying goes: we love to hate those for whom we curry no favor.
Inspired by the selfish antics of Terrell Owens, who will get plenty of attention in this weekend's Eagles-Steelers heavyweight NFL matchup, Page 3 takes a look at folks who generally turn us off -- yet we never can seem to turn them off.
Submitted for your approval, here are 10 favorite punching bags in Page 3's hybrid world of sports and pop culture:
The least popular, all-time great in any major sport -- and it's not even close. Bonds has performed remarkably for the San Francisco Giants for a dozen years, yet outside its city limits, you have a better chance of finding a winning lottery ticket on the street, than a fan wearing a No. 25 jersey .
Compared to say, Derek Jeter, Michael Vick or LeBron James, who are merchanisers' dreams, Bonds doesn't seem to be anyone's favorite player outside of his home city. Still, when he's got a bat in his hands, we can't look away. He does things we've never seen before, and we respect it. It's too bad Bonds and baseball fans can't enjoy it together, but the resentment on both sides runs too deep.Britney Spears
In financial terms, Spears' career is in a downturn, moving 20 miles over the speed limit towards a bust. Even at the apex of her popularity, few over the age of 15 took her music or dancing seriously. But there she is, on the cover of top-selling magazines. I would guess that serious artists hold a bit of a grudge over the fortune she's amassed, but weren't we all in on the joke from the start? Now, on hiatus from performing, here's hoping she doesn't go all Jennifer Capriati on us. And maybe we can finally get that inevitable Playboy photo shoot over with. Roddy Piper
A lifetime achievement award has to go to one of pro wrestling's all-time villains, whose ruthless physical and verbal shots against the weak and meek were so entertaining that he was one of the first "bad guys" to hear more cheers than boos. Among his Piper's Pit stunts that are among the funniest moments in wrestling history: interviewing ultra-popular Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka about his native Fiji before cracking him over the head with a coconut; patronizing Frankie Williams (a "jobber," whose specialty was losing to the higher-profile wrestlers) with some rare publicity ... before ordering Williams to shine his boots and delivering a severe beating; putting Morton Downey Jr.'s cigarette out with a fire extinguisher at Wrestlemania V. Those Who Gave Us '80s Pop Culture
Comedian Dave Attell asks on one of his albums, "Have you ever made fun of someone so much you think you should thank them for all the good times you had?" Well, let's raise a toast to Menudo, Vanilla Ice, The Coreys (Haim and Feldman), Milli Vanilli, the last six "Police Academy" movies, "Cop Rock," Journey, Pete Rose's hair, Geraldo's search of Al Capone's vault, pegged and acid-washed jeans, David Hasselhoff's chest hair, M.C. Hammer, the "Flashdance" video, all the mullets on "Full House" and Oprah Winfrey's wagon of fat. We're ashamed to admit they were part of our lives, but they gave us jokes that will carry on for decades. The Sports Media
Whenever there's a perceived deterioration in sports culture, the media takes at least half the blame (because the chicken or the egg always does). Highlight shows have been held responsible for everything from a lack of NBA fundamentals to the baseball fan's infatuation with home runs. Late start times in the MLB playoffs, which lead to games outlasting kids' bedtimes, put ratings and advertising dollars over the future of the game. The media paints too many athletes as heroes ... except when they don't focus enough on the good guys. Catch-phrases are supposedly getting out of hand, even though no one accused Mel Allen ("How about that!") or the two Holy-Cow milkers (Harry Caray and Phil Rizzuto) of putting themselves over the game. But as many knocks as the media take, we'd feel lost without the 24/7 access to sports on TV, radio and the Internet. Jared Fogle
If there's a man who's never wanted to throw a brick through the TV when this guy is hawking turkey subs, I've never met him. Fogle lost 245 pounds eating Subway sandwiches and, in case you forgot, turn on the television and he'll be on in three minutes to remind you. Among AmIAnnoyingOrNot.com's 103-person "Look at Me, I've Been Caught Eating" category, Fogle is challenging for the top spot as most grating. So go vote and make him pay for spawning that ridiculous Clay Henry jingle. How we never called the cops on this guy from the start is anyone's guess. George Steinbrenner
How hated is The Boss of the Yankees? When Sports Illustrated conducted polls across the country to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Steinbrenner was voted "Enemy of the State" in a whopping seven states: Red Sox fan-laden Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, plus Florida and, yes, those bitter small-market baseball fans in Alaska. Even among New Yorkers, Steinbrenner finished in third place, a sign that there are still Mets fans out there. But there will come a day when King George will have to give up his throne, and, just like if you took Dr. Evil out of an "Austin Powers" movie, it just won't be the same without him. Paris Hilton
Before November 2003, all we wanted to know was what this heiress to the Hilton fortune actually did to get noticed. Then the sex tape came out and we had a decent idea, of not a flattering one. But she came off better under nocturnal light than in the reality show "The Simple Life," proof that really she does rub elbows with the common man ... as long as she gets paid for it. But at least the search-engine companies love her.
The NFL's Me-First Wide Receivers
Paul Katcher is a freelance writer based in New York City. He welcomes questions, comments and web links to interesting sites and news items at firstname.lastname@example.org.