At any given moment in time, at least one team in the National Football League is required to employ at least one small, undersized, usually white wide receiver, who is known for his work ethic and grittiness and is loved far beyond any reasonable assessment of his abilities.
At the moment, that guy would seem to be Wes Welker, who is kind of a crappy example, because he's actually pretty freaking good, but he meets the standard on all the other criteria, including the near-universal adulation that gets heaped on him by fans, commentators and journalists.
Perhaps a better example though, for folks whose memory goes back a little further, is longtime New York Jets slot receiver Wayne Chrebet. Chrebet was the ultimate underdog story: an undrafted walk-on who became a 10-year starter. He was known for his tireless work ethic and unbelievable courage, especially in relation to his size. He finished his career with a bunch of Jets receiving records, and the respect of the entire league.
I always hated that guy.
Maybe I'm a bad person, but I don't watch sports to see ordinary guys who make it to the big time through grit and determination. I watch sports to see trans-human ubermenschen doing things that don't seem physically possible and making them seem easy. To me, guys like Wayne Chrebet really spoil the theater of it all. In the midst of all these cyborg killing machines and gazelle-human super beings, you got little Wayne Chrebet, gutting it out. Always chapped my ass for some reason.
Anyway, I've been trying to put my finger on what I don't like about Frankie Edgar, and I think that's it. It may not be terribly rational, but he just does nothing to spur my imagination and awe. He's just like a guy at the gym, only when you go home, he stays and hits the bag for four more hours. And when you're waking up in the morning, he's doing roadwork and shadow boxing. He makes up for his physical limitations with raw grit.
As I write it, I realize that sounds pretty admirable, but I just don't care. I like my athletes bigger than life. I like Anderson Silva, slipping into the Matrix and making professional fighters look like children; I like Jon Jones stalking and eliminating elite fighters like some sort of genetically engineered panther; I like Rousimar Pahlares tearing dudes' legs off and Paul Daley hitting people so hard they forget their names.
I KNOW I'm not going to see that when I watch a Frankie Edgar fight, and I find that knowledge enervating.