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Several Pittsburgh Steelers make Top 40 most hated NFL players of all-time list

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When the Sporting News released their 40 most hated NFL players of all-time, the Pittsburgh Steelers were well represented.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Winning typically breeds hatred, and in the NFL no team has won more than the Pittsburgh Steelers. This simple fact should make the following statement not seem to be too ridiculous. When the Sporting News put together their Top 40 most hated NFL players of all-time list, the Steelers were more than well represented.

The names which made the list shouldn't shock anyone by the way they either played the game, or what they did off the field, but fans of the black and gold don't take kindly to their players being dragged through the mud by anyone. So, who made the list of the most hated players all-time in NFL history?

Here is what the Sporting News had to say about just that...

No. 27 - Hines Ward

Why would a Super Bowl MVP who played with a smile plastered on his face be on this list? He was one of the NFL's best blocking receivers, but that led to some cheap shots, like the time he broke Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers' jaw on a crack-back block. Ward was voted the NFL's dirtiest player by his peers in his 2009. As far as AFC North opponents go, Ward is at or near the top of their most-hated lists.

No. 15 - James Harrison

Harrison is one of the most talented (and nastiest) edge rushers to ever play the game. He was arrested in 2008 on simple assault charges, and in 2010, he was fined more than $100,000 for various dirty hits, the most-notable a body slam of Titans quarterback Vince Young. Harrison has always played with a nasty disposition, and he's not afraid to speak his mind.

No. 8 - Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger faced sexual assault allegations in 2008 and 2010, the latter of which prompted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to hand down a four-game suspension. As a result, Big Ben inherited another unsavory nickname (you know what it is), and this hasn't gone away. Cincinnati revived all that with a radio spot that targeted Roethlisberger last year.

No. 1 - Michael Vick

Remember the protests? Vick went from one of the league's more popular players to one of the most reviled for his role in a dog-fighting ring that eventually led to a federal prison sentence for the quarterback. Vick missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons before returning with the Eagles, and the protests continued. He's repaired his image, but no star player has ever faced that level of hatred during his playing career.

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I am aware Vick is technically not a member of the organization anymore, but you can see just why the fan reaction was so negative when he signed with the Steelers at the end of training camp in 2015. Other than Vick, Ward, Harrison and Roethlisberger would be on almost any list by any website of hated players. Ward played to prove offensive players can lay a hit on defensive players, Harrison toed the line and then erased it several times and Roethlisberger's off the field shenanigans are well documented.

What made matters worse? Throughout all this turmoil the Steelers won. They won two Super Bowls with the trio above, and if dirty play and/or off field issues isn't enough, throw winning into the equation and you have yourself a jealous rage from fans of other NFL franchises.

The moral of this story? Haters are going to hate, and winning almost always breeds contempt. Although some of the actions of these players might be construed as a black eye on the organization, the fact they won will always leave fans with a warm fuzzy feeling inside when they talk about them.