Playground Notes: He Hate Me invades the Super Bowl

Danny Schoenbaechler

This is a wonderful university.

Our school’s most famous former student became known for playing professional wrestling’s version of tackle football.

In his national television debut, the former Hilltopper looked into the camera and announced his nickname.

He Hate Me.

His real name is Rod Smart and he played running back at Western from 1996-1999. But Smart is now preparing to play for the Carolina Panthers in this country’s most sacred annual event.

The Super Bowl.

As bland as this not-so-Super Bowl is, He Hate Me has taken over as the most exciting story.

Media Day turned into He Hate Me Day, which is a massive feat for a special teams player. And we’re not even talking about Dante Hall.

He Hate Me has been featured this week in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and on ESPN’s SportsCenter. The reason for his notoriety isn’t his kick-returns, special teams tackles or sporadic rushing attempts. The fame is based on a moniker derived for self promotion.

In this day of celebrities being famous for no reason other than being famous, He Hate Me is on the cusp of a societal trend. He is a genius in the realm of reputation. Let’s just hope he stays away from the sex tape genre.

Many people struggle with what He Hate Me means, but it’s pretty simple. Smart explains that when other players see him, they hate him for being so good. Hence, He Hate Me.

Now, some of you will obviously object to He Hate Me being the most famous former Western student.

First let’s make it clear, He Hate Me is much more famous than Rod Smart. Some of his own teammates don’t even know his first name.

But, when being compared to other Western greats, it can be hard to find someone more known.

Astronauts, actors, directors and Howard Stern employees can be thrown into the discussion.

But, the approximately 800 million expected viewers of the Super Bowl are an excellent trump card.

Being in the Super Bowl isn’t a precursor for being famous. Across the field from Smart will be another former Topper, Romeo Crennel.

Crennel is the New England Patriots defensive coordinator. Compared to Smart, Crennel has about 732 percent more influence on Sunday’s game. But, a rotund man wearing headphones lacks a bit of luster compared to He Hate Me.

Honestly, how can anyone not like a school known for He Hate Me?

Thousands of Western students will surround television sets and cheer every time Smart touches the ball – even though many won’t know his real name is Rod Smart. That is, the ones not currently exploring the keg on the back porch, will be cheering.

Super Bowl officials should hit He Hate Me up with some extra money. Without him, the Super Bowl would just be an excuse to party. Now, the Super Bowl is a vehicle for exuding Western pride – while partying of course.

So, for at least this week, He Hate Me will be the Topper of all Toppers.

Danny Schoenbaechler is the sports columnist and sports editor for the Herald. Reach him at [email protected]