Manti Te'o, Tiger Woods Among Least Liked Athletes

Manti Te’o has joined Lance Armstrong at the very top of a list of America’s least liked athletes, according to a survey by Nielsen/E-Poll and Forbes.

Each man is rated to have a 15% appeal, according to a survey designed to elicit the likability factor of sports stars that have at least a 10% recognition factor among the responding group. Te’o‘s claim to lame — at least in the minds of the public — is having played up the death of an imaginary girlfriend as a ploy to gain Heisman Trophy sympathy, followed by a stubborn refusal to admit that he was in on the hoax longer than the very final month or so before it was exposed.

Te’o‘s presumed offense was more creepy and weird than illegal or evil, so the fact that he’s placed on par with a hardened liar and cheat like Lance Armstrong comes as something of a surprise. It suggests that when it comes to athletes, at least, lame or bizarre actions are met with more distate than bad behavior that the average sports fan can relate to like doping to get a competitive edge or cheating on one’s wife and lying in an effort to save the marriage.

That brings us to Tiger Woods who trails only Manti and Lance in third place with 19% appeal. The fact that he failed to save his marriage, then struggled in his comeback bid probably cost him a lot of popularity.

He’s trailed by Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler (21%) who lost many fans by behavior nearly as lame as Te’o‘s — proposing to his fiance by text, then sending her the engagement ring in the mail. He also smokes in front of the kids.

Behind him is the annoyingly and inappropriately self-named Lakers forward Metta World Peace (21%) who loses fans each time they are forced to struggle with the cognitive dissonance of associating his new name with his violent behavior on court.

He is closely trailed by the grossly overpaid Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez (22%), lowlife dog-fight loving Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (23%), perennially erratic race-car driver Kurt Busch (27%), Lakers ball hog guard and accused rapist Kobe Bryant (27%) and the big-game bungling, envy-provoking Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (27%).