Deep down, we are all terrible people and love to see highly touted stars taken down a peg. That's why people love watching talent shows like American Idol where contestants who think they are God's gift to pop music get ripped a new "competitor" by a bitter Englishman.
"But... all my friends loved my Chewbacca impression!"
It only gets better the farther they have to fall, and as far as hype goes, it's hard to beat a #1 NFL draft pick. Even though #1 picks tend to fizzle about as often as they pan out, they're given guaranteed contracts in the tens of millions of dollars and the media pretends every year that the first chosen player is going to be awesome and change history.
The disappointing Tony Mandarich was called "The Incredible Bulk," originally as a compliment.
Note that even though the draft takes place over three days, the circus leading up to the draft goes for weeks or months, including the six-day NFL scouting combine, where potential draftees perform meaningless physical and mental tests while reporters and team officials nod knowledgeably at them.
I don't know why they all have to take their shirts off but I'm not arguing.
There is so much time spent building expectations that fans are prepared to literally crucify anyone who doesn't live up to them.
Former #1 pick Heath Shuler failed so terribly in the NFL that he was forced to go into politics.
For years, the draft bust poster boy was Ryan Leaf. He was actually a #2 (insert your own joke) but most people considered it a toss-up between him and #1 pick Peyton Manning, whom, if you follow football, commercials or cereal at all, you know to be a ridiculously successful player with a funny face.
Manning revolutionizes cereal boxes.
Long story short: Leaf did not wait for the pressures of success to cause him to flame out, but began to flame out immediately, before the season even began.
Not only did he have the attitude of a spoiled kindergartener, which is honestly par for the course in the NFL, but even worse, he couldn't play. After a couple more teams tried him out and confirmed that he was indeed broken, he was put out to pasture at age 26. Last year--11 years after standing on top of the world--he was arrested for breaking into someone's house.
Now, unless you are fat, you'll probably agree that fat people are always funny. Hell, I am fat and I find myself ruefully agreeing with the people that laugh at me that they have a point.
But while the gossip world is gasping about Jessica Simpson getting "fat" for wearing "mom jeans" a size larger than what she normally does, the NFL has actual jiggly, beer-bellied men like "Fat Albert" Haynesworth who hilariously fail actual physical conditioning tests after getting paid nine figures to be in shape.
If this is considered fat, I quit. Everything.
And unlike singers and actors, a football player's entire job is to be athletic, so getting fat is actually a professional failing. That's good because we don't have to feel as bad about pointing and laughing. This opens up a fountain of fan creativity responsible for things like this list of nicknames for one-time player Jared Lorenzen :"Quarter(got)back," "Hefty Lefty," "The Pillsbury Throwboy," "The Abominable Throwman," "J.Load," "Round Mound of Touchdown," "Tubby Gunslinger," "BBQ (Big Beautiful Quarterback) ," "Battleship Lorenzen," "Butterball," "Lord Of The Ring-Dings" and "He Ate Me".
"Come on, kid, are you going to throw that ball or are you going to eat it?"
Seriously, how can the media be chasing down Gossip Girl's Michelle Trachtenberg and asking her if she's fat...
...when people are counting on Terrence Cody here to actually tackle a moving target?
TERRENCE CODY'S BOOBS HAVE BOOBS
And finally, there's the Oakland Raiders. Some longsuffering East Bay fans actually follow the Raiders as fans, but most other people watch them for pure entertainment, because they encompass pretty much everything on this list so far.
The main villain is the owner, Al Davis, who was once a decent and respected man and is now a reanimated corpse bent on destroying all he once loved.
Bring me soullsss...
He drafts players apparently at random and keeps firing coaches until he finds one that agrees to coach his players to run smack into each other.
Or fall down for no reason.
The self-sacker there is JaMarcus Russell, who was, you guessed it, a #1 draft pick. He out-Leafed Ryan Leaf by being even more incompetent--and strangely serene about his incompetence--attributing it week after week to bad calls or bad luck, and saying he didn't need to change anything. He was given a $61,000,000 contract. There are no accidental zeroes there.
JaMarcus's career in a nutshell.
He obliged on the quirky scandal front with a rumored "purple drank" habit--a substance media outlets everywhere were delighted to explain to older white people.
It involves cough syrup and Sprite.
It goes without saying that Russell also became fat, a subject I admit I've milked for cheap laughs. In my defense, fat people are funny.
The Raiders have been surprisingly quiet on sex scandals recently, probably because catastrophic failure is a turnoff to most women. However, backup quarterback Kyle Boller did his best to bring scandal into the family by marrying Carrie Prejean who you might remember as the former Miss California who came out against same-sex marriage and then someone found a teen sex tape of her. Funny how that happens.
Here's the happy couple showing the NFL and tabloid world literally hand-in-hand. (See also: Tony Romo, Tom Brady.)
The Raiders even have heroes, with possibly the best punter and kicker in the league in Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski, both coincidentally in positions that minimize contact with the rest of the team (they get on the field for one play, kick a ball and get off). They are heroes for remaining with this depressing team so long (10 years), although I'm sure their record-breaking salaries ease the pain.
The kickers usually frolic in a money pile on the sideline while waiting to be called.
Sure, a ton of people really dig the drama they make up on Gossip Girl or stir up on Jersey Shore, but come on, you can't beat a team being driven into the ground by a reanimated corpse.
Check out more from Christine, in Political Cartoons: The Lowest Form of Communication and 'Plus Sized' Clothes: Translating the Baffling Euphemisms.