Everyone loved James Corden in 2016. His late night show, inoffensive comedy, and carpool karaoke entranced the world with his polite, British comedy stylings. Then his star began to dim. People grew weary of Corden. A 2020 AMA on Reddit turned into a disaster of epic proportions, with less questions being asked than dozens of people sharing tales of what an epic dick Corden was. From yelling at servers in restaurants, to intentionally knowing only senior staff on his set and treating everyone else like dirt, rumors of Corden’s self-inflated ego were legendary, and he’s been taking a reputation hit ever since.
Rewind the same five years and Guy Fieri was a joke. People dunked on his fire shirts, his frosted tips, his donkey sauce, and piled on when celebrity chefs treated the Food Network star with disdain. Fieri took this all on his chin, and soon rumors got out about him too — this time about how genuinely nice, kind and caring he was about other people in his orbit. While James Corden was bombing on Reddit, Fieri was raising $21.5M for struggling restaurants in the middle of Covid, ensuring family businesses and mom-and-pop places found a way to stay afloat during massive economic struggle.
Every athlete you know, every athlete you love, and even the ones you hate — all have a place on the “Corden-Fieri Scale.” The ultimate taxonomy of popularity applicable to anyone famous, especially athletes. I posit that there are two paradigms of popularity: The Corden and The Fieri, cultural yin and yangs. People who the world loved and grew to detest, and those who were mocked, only to win hearts later.
There’s a critical caveat in applying the Corden-Fieri scale: We can’t apply it to genuinely garbage humans, regardless of their fame in sports. Those who have perpetrated violent crimes or discriminatory acts, putting them on the Corden path are disqualified. These people don’t deserve being ranked in this harmless exercise. Like Corden and Fieri themselves, the goal of the scale is to see how the public reacts to people’s genuine personalities becoming known by the wider populace, and how we adapt to it.
To best understand the Corden-Fieri Scale let’s apply it to a few notable players in the NFL and NBA .
Tom Brady, Kevin Durant (Strong Corden)
This isn’t about how a player is perceived by the fanbase, but in the wider culture of sports. Over the years fans have grown weary of Brady, and he’s been a state of Cordening himself since 2005 or so.
Frustration with his winning, his lack of personality, the manufactured online presence he has, then the supplement company that bilked $1M from small businesses during Covid, Brady is the epitome of an athlete who has been on a strong Corden trend for much of his NFL career.
There’s no question that early in his career Durant was on the path to True Fieri, but moving from Oklahoma City, forming a Warriors Super Team, faking online accounts to defend himself, then forming a new super team in Brooklyn have put him firmly on the path to becoming the NBA’s biggest Corden.
Paul George, Russell Wilson (Leaning Corden)
Paul George was generally liked among NBA fans, but his moves after Indianapolis put him firmly on a path to Corderndom. We’re not talking out-and-out hatred quite yet, but people are growing weary of the promise that George is one of the best players in the NBA, only to see that fail to materialize. Sprinkle in some playoff failures and chasing a super team and you have all the trappings of someone destined to be a long-time Corden.
When it comes to Wilson he too has been generally liked, but he’s always been seen as a little corny. Hawking alkaline water didn’t help his cause, but much like Corden himself, people are just growing tired of Wilson.
Larry Fitzgerald, Tim Duncan (True Neutrals)
There’s no question of the greatness of Fitzgerald and Duncan, but does anyone really have a strong feeling one way or another? They both seem like genuinely nice, moderate guys who don’t make waves in either direction.
Kyrie Irving, Aaron Rodgers (Leaning Fieri)
Kyrie Irving is a fascinating case of the chaotic on the scale. There’s no question that since entering the league Irving was on the path to becoming one of the NBA’s biggest Cordens. His adherence to flat earth theory and tendency to bounce around teams didn’t ingrate him to fans. But, since arriving in Brooklyn he’s become a paragon of the Fieri turnaround. Whether it’s fighting for athlete rights, calling out injustice, or making his voice heard — Irving is on a path to Flavortown.
Outside of Green Bay (and, well, the NFC North) there weren’t a lot of strong feelings about Aaron Rodgers outside of his on-field play. Recent off-field moments, whether it’s hosting Jeopardy! or announcing his engagement to Shailene Woodley has put him on a path to generally people liking him and moving from a neutral, to a Fieri.
Tony Romo, Giannis Antetokounmpo (True Fieri)
Tony Romo never, ever got enough credit as a player — but as an announcer he’s become one of the most beloved figures in football. His faultless announcing style, paired with his overall likeability has made Romo the firmest Fieri in the NFL’s orbit. Nobody has anything bad to say about Romo, and we all love him.
Similarly, Giannis Antetokounmpo is almost universally loved by NBA fans, and has been since entering the league. The joy in which he plays the game, paired with a personality that’s magnetic makes him not only one of the league’s best players, but one of its most revered. Playing and thriving on a small market team helps, and unless there’s a major change in his future we can expect Giannis to be a strong Fieri in the NFL for a long time.
Rapid fire, as dictated by the SB Nation staff.
Shaquille O’Neal: Leaning Corden.
Alex Rodriguez: Leaning Fieri.
Randy Moss: True Fieri.
Brett Favre: Strong Corden.
Cris Cyborg: Leaning Fieri.
Rob Gronkowski: True Fieri.
Serena Williams: True Fieri.
Mike Krzyzewski: Leaning Fieri.
Urban Meyer: Leaning Corden.
Novak Djokavic: Strong Corden.
Annika Sorenstam: Leaning Corden.
Margaret Court: Strong Corden.
Hope Solo: Strong Corden.
Jim Boeheim: Leaning Fieri.
Tiger Woods: Leaning Fieri.
Lance Armstrong: Strong Corden.
Zach Randolph: True Fieri.
Try this method yourself. Every single athlete, coach, or owner can be put on the Corden-Fieri Scale. This will consume a lot of your day thinking about it, so be warned.