By Dan Shanoff
Page 2

Perfected by Patriots fans during New England's Super Bowl run, the cry of "disrespect" has become the most ridiculous cliché in sports.

"We're disrespected" is even more knee-jerk (emphasis: "jerk") and disingenuous than "One game at a time," "Happy to be here," and "Thanking my hands" -- combined!

How can these guys be smiling so much while being so disrespected?

Any day now, expect Aretha Franklin to re-release a new take on her old hit: "Dis-R-E-S-P-E-C-T!" ("Find out what it means to me!")

You'd think that the "disrespect" groan from New England sports fans would have been put to rest after the AFC title game, but the Super lead-up was chock full of:

"So we're not as mouthy as the Eagles? Disrespect!"

"No Hall of Famers on our defense? Disrespect!"

"So you don't consider us a dynasty yet? Disrespect!"

"Tom Brady isn't better than Joe Montana? Disrespect!"

Even now, they're already gearing up for the new campaign:

"So you think the success was all because of assistants Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel? And that their leaving will hurt the team? DIS!-RE!-SPECT!"

But with the universal agreement of "Dynasty" (and, for some, even "Greatest Team Ever"), the complaint loses its bite.

Still, other fans are waiting in line to take over the mantle of the Disrespected, and the pipeline of the unjustly maligned is bursting with names ready to emerge. Here are the Top 10 contenders:

10. Boston College hoops
Because if New England sports fans don't have something to gripe "Disrespect!" about, I'm not sure they'd be able to exist. In this case, it's deserved. Certainly, an unbeaten team that took umpteen weeks to crack the Top 25 (let alone the Top 5) counts (no matter how ugly they are in doing it).

Category of Disrespect: Legitimate Gripe.

Solution: A Final Four to match the likely NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed would be nice, but I'm not sure the rest of the country could handle the Boston area sports-fan glee O.D.

9. Billy Beane
The anti-Moneyball backlash was as intense as the original (glowingly positive) phenomenon. He's doing the same things as three years ago, yet for some reason, now it's junk. (And protege/Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta? Don't even go there. Dissing him is like LA media policy.)

Category of Disrespect: Commonly Perceived (Beane); Legitimate Gripe (DePo)

Solution: An A's-Dodgers World Series would silence the critics (and set an all-time postseason record for walks).

8. Kobe Bryant/Vince Carter
Here's a classic example of a disconnect between the media and the fans. The former rip these two guys mercilessly; the latter, to the former's frustration, continues to put them among the leading All-Star Game vote-getters.

Category of Disrespect: Commonly Perceived

Solution: Do they make "Extreme Makeovers" for image repair?

7. Barry Bonds
It's the "Asterisk Rationale." Despite best-ever numbers, some grumpy critics insist on insinuating that he's a cheater or that his stats should be qualified with some type of caveat. Classic Dis! (Doesn't help that he's not media-friendly.)

Category of Disrespect: Commonly Perceived

Solution: Unfortunately, there will ALWAYS be people who will label him a cheater. He may retain the best "Dis" claim of all.

Phil Jackson
Can Phil flat out coach? The jury is still out.

6. Phil Jackson
Didn't you know? He can't win without having the best players of the era on his roster. MJ and Pip ... Shaq and Kobe ... Hey, who couldn't win titles with those players?

Category of Disrespect: Commonly Perceived

Solution: Take the Knicks job and, simply, nudge that awful franchise to .500. Would be the coaching job of the year.

5. Big East Football
Half-dozen teams tie for least impressive BCS conference title in history, in the season after big boys Miami and Va Tech bolt (with BC out the door next). Pitt demolished in Fiesta Bowl.

Category of Disrespect: (Nah, they deserve it.)

Solution: League newcomer Louisville going unbeaten in 2005 and winning the national title.

4. Bill Belichick
Call it "Parcells Syndrome." Now people are saying that it was all Belichick's assistants, and he'll flail without them, just like Parcells did after Belichick left him.

Category of Disrespect: Totally Manufactured

Solution: What: Win another Super Bowl, without Weis and Crennel?

3. Seattle SuperSonics
Despite entering the NBA season expected to stink, then leading the NBA's Northwest (topping highly touted Minnesota, Denver and Utah), most critics pronounce Seattle will fold like a tent in the playoffs.

Category of Disrespect: Commonly Perceived

Solution: Knock off a perceived "legitimate" team (say, one that plays decent defense) and get to the Western Conference Finals.

2. Curtis Martin
Unlike Red Sox Nation, C-Mart's problem is that you'll never hear him whining about it. Or maybe his problem is that he doesn't inspire a legion of fans to whine ENOUGH about it.

Category of Disrespect: Legitimate Gripe

Solution: Break Emmitt Smith's all-time NFL career rushing record.

1. New England Patriots
Hey, who let them sneak back in here? Was that you, New England Sports Fans??? What's wrong with you?!

Category of Disrespect: Totally Manufactured

Solution: Apparently, nothing can truly fix the inferiority complex. (No disrespect intended.)

Also receiving votes
Terrell Owens, Ashlee Simpson, George Steinbrenner, Hilary Swank, Carmelo Anthony, Women's college hoops, Marvin Harrison, The NHL.

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning.