Dan Dierdorf is arguably the most disliked sportscaster in America - or at least the most maligned.

If you listen to sports talk-radio, you might get the idea that nobody likes the "Monday Night Football" analyst. Nationally syndicated host Jim Rome mocks Dierdorf regularly. Callers attack him after seemingly every game.Even Ch. 2 sportscaster and K-Fan host David James - "everybody's friend in the morning" - recently called for Dierdorf to be ousted from "MNF" during the morning radio show he hosts.

Of course, James had a darn good reason. He was rightfully perturbed by one of the many dumb things Dierdorf said on the air - the ABC sportscaster mocked what was clearly a roughing-the-passer call that nearly cost 49ers quarterback Steve Young his head, flippantly commenting that he thought the players wore pads in the NFL.

Which is exactly the sort of thing that makes so many people dislike Dierdorf so much.

He is not unaware of that dislike, but he says he doesn't much care. And he may be right that anyone associated with the "Monday Night Football" broadcasts is going to come under more criticism than most sportscasters simply because of the broadcast itself.

"There's a power that goes with `Monday Night Football' by the sheer size of the audience," Dierdorf said in a recent interview with TV critics. "You have an opinion. Maybe your opinion upsets some people, but remember that if you say something about somebody, at least make it factually correct because it's a big bat we swing on Monday night, and I think we all feel the responsibility of that."

Which sounds great, but Dierdorf doesn't always follow his own advice. (Witness the comment about Steve Young.)

Another part of the reason Dierdorf is such a lightning rod is his tunnel-vision - an old lineman himself, he tends to see the entire game of football from that vantage point. Which is something he admits, at least to some extent.

"Yes, I have a tendency to look at the line of scrimmage to start with. And, contrary to my quarterbacking friend here," he said, motioning to fellow analyst Boomer Esiason, "I think the game is won and lost on the line of scrimmage by who controls it during the course of a game."

But what really makes Dierdorf unbearable is his attitude - that he's just a little bit smarter than his colleagues and certainly a whole lot smarter than all us dumb viewers out here.

It's hard to relate to someone like that. And it's easy to target Dierdorf for criticism for no reason other than that.