Read Mr. Fineman’s article here. Basically he claims that The Pittsburgh Steelers are viewed as the ‘bad guys’ in the NFL because they are physically (often recklessly) too tough, too punishing, and because of the actions and comments some of the players have made over the past few years, which haven’t been well received by fans or commissioner Roger Goodell.
Perhaps it could be true that the Steelers are portrayed by the mainstream media as the ‘bad guys’, but that doesn’t mean the Steelers are not respected. Anyone who actually knows football would agree that like him or not, Hines Ward is one of the toughest players ever to play the game. As for those who dislikes him and the Steelers because of the comments they make off the field, well, they aren’t really fans of the sport.
At the very least, unlike another ‘evil empire’ from another popular American sport, the Steelers are held in check, like every other team, by the salary cap, so the competition is fair money-wise, and fans of the sport won’t grudge them for that.