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The NFL’s most polarizing players

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With the NBA's biggest current villain coming to town on Wednesday, less than a week after he was booed out of his old building, it got me to thinking.

Is there a LeBron James-sized outlaw currently in the National Football League? Of course, fans usually save their most-hated player status for a member of their rival team. Jets fans hate Tom Brady. Patriots fans can't stand Rex Ryan. Ravens fans despise Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh fans certainly feel the same way about Ray Lewis.

I don't think there is an active player who is currently on the LeBron-is-loathed scale. Instead, there seems to be a group of top players that are most polarizing. We'll call them the LeVillains.

Ben Roethlisberger: The two-time Super Bowl winner started the season on the sidelines, suspended four games for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Roethlisberger has never been charged with a crime, but has allegedly put himself in some bad situations. He was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student in Georgia back in April.

My take: I'm surprised there hasn't been a bigger backlash against Roethlisberger by Steeler fans and opposing fans. Asking forgiveness and changing your ways can go a long way. Roethlisberger has done that. The NBA's James still hasn't figured that out.

Michael Vick: The Eagles' quarterback spent 21 months in federal prison for financing a dog-fighting ring. Some people will never forgive him for his role in the heinous treatment of the dogs that were in his care.

My take: Forget how well Vick has played for Philly this season. More importantly, he has said and done the right things since being released from prison. He has worked with the Humane Society in anti-dog fighting campaigns, and admits how dumb his actions were. He's on the right path.

Brett Favre: The league's all-time leader in touchdowns, interceptions, passing yards and consecutive starts has turned off fans with his annual retirement talk. He officially retired twice, only to keep coming back and giving tearful press conferences about how much he loves to play.

My take: No player in league history has tarnished his legacy without being charged with any sort of crime like Favre has. He's a drama queen who has cost his teams numerous times in playoff games with poor throws and bad decisions. He is probably the NFL player most on par with James as far as having his popularity with fans decline at a breakneck pace.

Randy Moss: He is playing for his third team in what's been a bizarre season for the probable Hall of Famer. He got traded from the Patriots after being disruptive in the locker room. He got cut by the Vikings after interviewing himself in a postgame press conference and blasting a mom-and-pop catering meal. He is playing out the stretch with the Titans.

My take: I've never been a fan. When he announced several years ago that he'd "play when I want to play," it was a slap in the face to true warriors and legends that play football, not to mention to people who work 9-to-5 every day and have to scrape by to pay their bills. He's never gotten a reality check, and he could have been the best wide receiver to ever play the game. Instead, he played when he wanted to play.

Terrell Owens: The quarterback-and-coach-killer is playing on his fifth different team. Statistically, he's having a great season for the 2-9 Bengals. He has caught 65 passes for 914 yards and eight touchdowns.

My take: He burned bridges in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas by being a cancer in the locker room. But he never played for any team that I like, so who cares? It's fitting that he's putting up solid numbers for a lousy team at this point in his career because winning never seemed to be all that important to him.

Tom Brady: The former sixth-round draft pick entered the league as an underdog. Since then, he has won three Super Bowl titles, married a supermodel and picked fights with guys he should not mess with, such as Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, as he did back in Week 6, and journeyman Anthony Smith, as he did when Smith played for the Steelers in 2007.

My take: He was a lot more likeable early in his career when he was an enthusiastic, young player just happy to have the chance to play. I think if he's such a tough guy and runs his mouth at defensive players such as Suggs, he should run the ball a lot more. Call more quarterback draws and sneaks. Take Suggs on head-on.

Tom Brady's hair: The Pats' quarterback may be hoping to be a supermodel as well, as he's grown his hair long and combs it straight back.

My take: Dude, you aren't Steven Seagal and this isn't 1990. It isn't 1987 either, and you aren't the bass player for Motley Crue. Enough is enough. Cut it.

Mike McCarthy's brain: The Packers' coach continues to make decisions that make you wonder what's floating around inside his head.

My take: Green Bay was tied with Atlanta 3-3 late in the second quarter last week. On a fourth-and-3 play, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez made what was ruled a catch and Atlanta went on to score a touchdown just before halftime in a 20-17 victory. Replays showed Gonzalez might have juggled the ball on his way to the turf, but McCarthy didn't bother to challenge.

It was a wasted opportunity in a game the Packers needed to win. But at least McCarthy saved his challenge opportunities. Maybe he used them in practice on Wednesday or Thursday.

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com