Welcome back to This Week In Hot Takes, rounding up the hottest takes from sports media. This time, we’re covering the week of Dec. 23-29.
5. Skip Bayless thinks Jerry Jones is going to start Tony Romo in the playoffs: Here’s that clip, from last Friday’s Undisputed:
"I still believe in my heart of hearts that Jerry Jones will decree that [Tony] Romo will start that first playoff game." — @RealSkipBayless pic.twitter.com/GYAaqhOOz6
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) December 23, 2016
Suggesting that the Cowboys would go back to Romo instead of Dak Prescott (who Bayless supported for NFL MVP later in the week) in the playoffs is quite the take, and there doesn’t appear to be much to support it. Romo did not play at all last Monday (Bayless says here he expected Jones to play Romo for a half), and while ESPN has reported that Romo’s expected to see his first action since 2015 this Sunday, it will be as a backup to Prescott. To be clear, Bayless isn’t saying that the Cowboys should start Prescott in the playoffs (he doesn’t want to see that), but that they will, and anything is possible with Jerry Jones. For now, though, this feels like an attempt to create debate about a settled issue, one that just happens to involve the most ratings-driving team out there.
4. Terry Bradshaw thinks the Packers should get rid of Aaron Rodgers over Mike McCarthy: Bradshaw’s appearance on Speak For Yourself Friday was a hot takes gold mine, as that also featured his claim that Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin is “a great cheerleader, not a great coach.” However, it’s Bradshaw’s Rodgers-bashing that’s perhaps even hotter:
.@TerryBradshaw: I'd get rid of Aaron Rodgers over Mike McCarthy if I were the Packers. You have to keep a great coach. pic.twitter.com/ORl8N8zl3C
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) December 23, 2016
“If I’m going to get rid of one of the two, I’m going to get rid of Rodgers. I’m going to keep a great coach, you have to keep a great coach.” So Tomlin (two Super Bowl wins, five division titles, seven playoff appearances, and a 102-57 (.642) mark since 2007) isn’t a great coach, but McCarthy (one Super Bowl win, five division titles, eight playoff appearances and a 113-61-1 (.649) mark since 2006) is? The two seem pretty similar from this corner, and McCarthy’s coaching has taken much But the really remarkable part here is how down Bradshaw is on Rodgers, who’s a six-time Pro Bowler (including the last three years in a row), a two-time All-Pro, a two-time NFL MVP (and a strong candidate for that again this year with 4,128 passing yards, 36 touchdowns against seven interceptions, and a 65.5 per cent completion mark). The reactions from the rest of the panel here are something, with even Jason Whitlock calling Bradshaw crazy.
3. Jason Whitlock thinks Mike Tomlin shouldn’t have fired back at Bradshaw: That Bradshaw appearance sparked a terrific response from Tomlin, who said he’s fine with criticism, he isn’t out there calling himself great, but he thought terms like “cheerleader” “fall more towards the area of disrespect and unprofessional.” He then finished with “But what do I know? I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, particularly a ‘Hollywood’ Henderson fan.” That’s an excellent veiled shot at Bradshaw, as Henderson once said Bradshaw couldn’t spell “cat” if you spotted him the “c” and the “a.” Whitlock wasn’t a fan of it, however, speaking out on Tuesday’s Speak For Yourself:
"Two wrongs don't make a right." — @WhitlockJason on Mike Tomlin taking shots at Terry Bradshaw pic.twitter.com/80tQhB5jl0
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) December 27, 2016
So pundits can take these kind of shots, but coaches can’t respond? As Michael Lombardi notes, this wasn’t unprovoked, but in response to what Bradshaw said, and Eric Mangini goes on to point out, too, Tomlin didn’t specifically insult Bradshaw; he just referenced someone who did. This feels like Whitlock reaching to criticize someone who fired back at his Fox colleague.
2. Phil Mushnick is again ranting about football players’ celebrations: This has long been a sore spot for Mushnick, the sports media columnist for The New York Post who was previously seen discussing the “repugnant act” of Antonio Brown’s “vulgar groin-thrusting TD dance that mimed copulation” (i.e. twerking). This time around, Mushnick’s mad at broadcasters for televising celebrations and not condemning them, with a Christmas Day column titled “Football’s noxious TV coverage can’t get worse in 2017, right?” The whole thing is a mess of hot takery, but here’s one of the highlights:
FOX’s Bucs-Saints, as if produced and directed by Beelzebub, was a formula shoot. All players who showboated — displayed conspicuous immodesty regardless of circumstances — were quickly rewarded with a slow-motion replay of their excessive self-regard, as if a) this is what football’s all about, and b) this is what we watch football to see.
FOX’s obnoxious glorification of the obnoxious self-glorifying was such that if a player did something that stood out as a good play but didn’t try to draw post-play attention, he was ignored. No soup for you!
And a “Bah, humbug!” to you as well, Phil.
1. Stephen A. Smith thinks Kevin Durant is “riding the coattails of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson”: Stephen A. and Max Kellerman have been off for most of this week ahead of their big move to the main ESPN network January 3, but managed to get some hot takes in before they left. Of particular note was this one from Monday, in the new Final Take segment:
"Kevin Durant is EXACTLY who we thought he was."
–@stephenasmith #FinalTake pic.twitter.com/R3XHNA5BsS
— First Take (@FirstTake) December 26, 2016
So, Smith spends the first 40 seconds of this clip praising Durant as “a superstar, one of the top two basketball players on the planet, which makes him the best player on the Golden State Warriors,” then goes “but he’s also not a champion, y’all, basically someone who will never become one either unless one of two things happen. Durant either rides the coattails of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to an NBA championship or he grows the kind of the stuff in the fourth quarter that you can’t mention over FCC airwaves.”
It’s quite unclear how someone can be one of the top two players and the best player on his team who’s still “riding coattails.” Smith’s whole argument is that Durant didn’t put up great fourth-quarter numbers in the last few games of the one Finals he appeared in back in 2012, and it’s particularly terrific that he has to further subdivide that already-small sample size Finals into three and two games, as Durant’s overall fourth-quarter numbers for that Finals were solid. There’s no history of Smith being an enemy of Durant or anything, no, none at all.
Notable absences: Clay Travis, Shannon Sharpe, JT The Brick, Doug Gottlieb. Welcome to the column, Terry Bradshaw! After a week off, most of the top five in our standings (minus Travis) are back with a vengeance. Here are the final Hot Take Standings for 2016.
Hot Take Standings
Jason Whitlock – 49
Clay Travis – 24
Stephen A. Smith – 23
Phil Mushnick – 22
Skip Bayless – 17
Shannon Sharpe – 11
JT The Brick – 9
Doug Gottlieb – 8
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
Doug Gottlieb – 5
C.J. Nitkowski – 5
Frank Isola – 5
Cris Carter – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Ray Lewis – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Danny Kanell – 3
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 3
Rob Parker – 3
Chris Broussard – 3
Charles Barkley – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Dan Dakich – 3
Michael DeCourcy – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Bob Ryan – 3
Bart Hubbuch – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Colin Cowherd – 2
Don Cherry – 2
Dan Wolken – 2
Booger McFarland – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2
Happy Hot Take New Year! Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. As always, you can send submissions to me here.
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