The hottest takes from August 18-24.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes, breaking down all the hottest media takes from August 18-24. Let’s get to it. 

5. Stephen A. Smith thinks Colin Kaepernick’s protest is ineffective because no one’s signing him, says he’s unemployed “by his choice for the most part”: Here’s what Smith had to say about Kaepernick on First Take Tuesday:

“Nobody’s really talking about Colin Kaepernick getting a job, and to me, that’s something that should be talked about. In the end, if you do all this, but from a societal perspective, tangible progress hasn’t been made, visible progress hasn’t been made, and then you couple that with the fact that the owners still go about the business of ostracizing Colin Kaepernick from this league, then you still have the very same issues that he was alluding to. Because you don’t see definitive progress in terms of racial inequality, racial injustice, brutality on the part of some police officers. That was the concern that Kaepernick had when he knelt for the national anthem.”

“As a result, the uproar that ensued as a result of that led to him ultimately being unemployed, by his choice for the most part, because he opted out of his deal in San Francisco even though, reportedly, they were going to cut him anyway. The point that I’m trying to make to you is that just weeks ago, we were talking about the need for Colin Kaepernick to have a job, because there’s nowhere on earth that all 32 backups and all 32 starting quarterbacks are better than him, and for him to not have a job speaks volumes about the culture that the NFL is trying to facilitate on the part of its owners moving forward. They want to send a message that ‘No, you’re not going to be a distraction. We’re not going to tolerate it.'”

“So people kneeling down is fine, and obviously we want progress to be made. I don’t know what tangible evidence there is that it has been made, other than it’s good to see others joining in. But in the end, if Colin Kaepernick gets lost in the shuffle, and he doesn’t find a job, and we don’t have tangible evidence as to those improvements about things that he was concerned about, then what have we really accomplished? I think those are legitimate questions.”

This is an all-over-the-place take from Stephen A., where he blames Kaepernick himself for opting out (while admitting the team was ready to cut him anyway) and says that Kaepernick raised valid issues, but those are somehow diminished by the NFL blackballing him. In some ways, Kaepernick’s unemployment has probably brought more attention to his cause than a team signing him would have; you probably don’t get a rally of hundreds in support of him if he’s on a team somewhere. And sure, there isn’t tangible or definitive progress in the areas Kaepernick was concerned about, but isn’t that sort of the point, and the reason protests are still ongoing? In any case, Stephen A. himself admits that Kaepernick isn’t employed because of his protests, and that he’s brought a huge amount of attention to these issues. It’s unclear why he feels Kaepernick needs to be employed for his kneeling to not be pointless, though.

Rating: ???

4. Jim Souhan says Miguel Sano needs to lose weight…because he suffered an unrelated injury?: Dubious criticisms of athletes’ weight have become a big thing in sportswriting recently (which is funny if you’ve ever spent any time in a press box, or looking at sportswriters), and the latest to go down that road is Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Souhan wrote Monday that Twins’ third baseman Miguel Sano needs to lose weight, especially because of a shin injury he suffered from a foul ball:

As Byron Buxton begins to show off the otherworldly ability that will make him a star, Buxton and Sano should be propelling the Twins toward the playoffs and a hopeful future. But there are those in the Twins organization who are concerned with Sano’s weight, whether or not it contributed to this injury.

Sunday night, the Twins placed Sano on the 10-day disabled list because of a stress reaction in his left shin. The injury was caused by a foul ball. His recovery might be affected by the amount of man that shin must support.

According to my information, Sano’s weight has gradually risen all season and is now well above 260 pounds, which is the number listed on the Twins roster. He might be 20 to 25 pounds heavier than that.

Sano is 24 and until this week he had not suffered any injuries related to his bulk, but even his strength and assorted other athletic gifts will not allow him to be the player he should be if he isn’t careful.

This is a bad take on several levels. First, Souhan appears to be a tool of the Twins by just passing along these anonymous organizational takes on Sano’s weight (and the Twins don’t look great there, either; if they have issues with Sano, why not address them with him in person instead of trying to shame him through the media?). Beyond that, Souhan all but admits this particular injury wasn’t about Sano’s weight, and that he hasn’t had previous injuries related to his weight.

And Sano is in the middle of a very impressive season, where he’s batting .267/.356/.514 and providing 2.5 wins above replacement (as per FanGraphs), and where he earned an all-star nod. You really want to mess with that by trying to make him cut weight? Souhan cites Pablo Sandoval as a cautionary tale, but there’s an argument that some of Sandoval’s struggles in Boston came from organizational pressure to slim down (to say nothing of the effects of age in general). In any case, this kind of seemingly-concerned shade lobbed at Sano doesn’t accomplish much, other than advance the Twins’ agenda through the press. And as Craig Calcaterra notes, this is par for the course for Souhan.

Rating: ???

3. Chris Broussard’s sources say Isaiah Thomas has a “huge ego” and a “Napoleon complex” and his Boston teammates didn’t like him: Speaking of reporters passing along questionable information from anonymous sources, here’s the king of that, FS1’s Broussard. Broussard went on Undisputed Wednesday to discuss the Cleveland Cavaliers trading Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick, and while he thought that Cleveland won the trade, he also decided to lob a bunch of odd, anonymously-sourced criticisms of Thomas:

“I will tell you this. I spoke to several executives, or texted with several executives, last night. And a lot of them were saying that a lot of the players in Boston really weren’t that fond of Isaiah. We know he had those problems in Sacramento, and in Phoenix. I didn’t know he was having those issues, according to these executives, in Boston. He is known as a headstrong guy, he’s got a huge ego, they say he’s got the Napoleon complex, he always has that chip on his shoulder. So I’ll give you that.”

“But he knows the situation he’s stepping into, he knows that LeBron James is the best player in the world, and he knows the best way for himself to get paid after this season is for him to play well and help Cleveland get back to the Finals. And just like I told you when Durant went to Golden State, immediately, ‘They’re winning it all,’ I’m telling you, Cleveland is winning the East, and they’re better equipped to play Golden State than they were before.”

That’s an odd take on a number of levels, as he both praises and criticizes Thomas, but it’s these anonymous executives’ criticisms of Thomas that are particularly weird. First off, what would any executive outside the Celtics’ organization know about how the other Boston players interacted with Thomas? And why does Thomas have a “huge ego” and a “Napoleon complex”? Because he’s short? There’s no evidence for any of this, but of course “Sources” Broussard passes it along as gospel. Oh, and after he said this (and after it was written up by NESN, which was able to grab a ton of traffic from it thanks to Fox not having written content any more), former Celtics Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk took to Twitter to refute it in strong terms:

They would probably know if Boston teammates did or didn’t like Thomas. And hey, unlike Broussard’s “sources,” they’ll put their name to it.

Rating: ????

2.  Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless, Mark Spector and Chad Forbes criticize Odell Beckham Jr. for his reaction to a hit: We’re lumping these all together, as they’re all along pretty similar lines. So, New York Giants’ receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (who draws an insane amount of hot takes) took a scary-looking hit to his leg in a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns Monday. He showed pain on the field, but was able to limp off. However, he then collapsed in the tunnel and was carted off to the locker room. That led to Forbes (@NFLDraftBites, who somehow has 10,300 followers) saying Beckham was playing up the injury for the cameras:

This prompted deserved mockery:

But Forbes was far from the only person with this dumb take. Fox’s Bayless shot pretty much the same thing out one minute later:

And Mark Spector, a columnist for Canadian broadcaster Rogers Sportsnet, of course found a way to make this about hockey and hockey players’ perceived toughness:

What exactly is going on in those hockey dressing rooms, Mark? Repeated slashes to players’ knees? But the real top take here comes from Fox’s Colin Cowherd, who compared Beckham to people at parties, including “an attention-seeking guy with an iguana on his shoulder” and “Marissa…she makes sure she’s on the balcony, by the window, so everybody can see Marissa crying.”

That take is almost, but not quite, as stupid as Cowherd’s gelled-up hairstyle there. And if he’s “not building his franchise around” Beckham Jr., who’s proven to be one of the most talented receivers out there, it’s a good thing he doesn’t have a franchise.

Rating: ???? (for all)

1. Jesse Watters says “There’s no racism in football. All the black student athletes are dominating.” We usually try to stick to sports media figures here rather than general media figures like Fox News’ Watters, but he inserted himself into the sports media conversation Thursday, and did so in an incredibly stupid way. On Fox News’ The Five (during a segment discussing controversy about USC’s horse sharing a name with Robert E. Lee’s horse, because apparently we needed multiple Lee controversies in a week), Watters said “There’s no racism in football. All the black student-athletes are dominating and they’re all going to play in the NFL—the good ones. And they’re making a million dollars.” Here’s the clip:

First off, some players making money doesn’t disprove the existence of racism. There’s plenty that can be discussed there, from NCAA players not being paid despite the huge revenues they bring in to describing the way that certain black athletes play as “lazy.” Or what about racial positional splits and coaching jobs? Richard Johnson had a great piece at SB Nation earlier this month exploring why FBS college football only has 14 black head coaches, and discussing how black players are frequently pushed out of the positions that are most likely to lead to coaching jobs:

Of black players who played QB in high school, 62 percent changed positions in college, per the study. Some moves are in the best interest of players, but only 16 percent of white QBs changed positions. Researchers found 22 percent of all players switched positions.

The study found that, after controlling for certain factors, black quarterbacks were 38.5 percent more likely than white quarterbacks to change positions.

“If you were a [black] center who came to the NFL, more often than not, you ended up playing linebacker or something like that,” [NFL hall of fame tackle Roosevelt] Brown said. “The [prejudice] was just as bad as the one that existed at quarterback.”

In the NFL, the other offensive line positions are essentially half black and half white. But while the league was 67 percent black in 2010, only 9 percent of its centers were. That was down from 17 percent in 1998.

…SB Nation found there are only three black offensive line coaches in the Power 5. Two, Florida’s Brad Davis and Texas Tech’s Brandon Jones, played center in college. Duke’s Marcus Johnson spent most of his career at guard.

How can more black men become QB coaches if so many were moved from QB to WR or DB in college? The same goes for OL coaches and the center position.

The exact impacts of race in football can be discussed and debated on many different lines, and there’s a detailed and nuanced conversation to be had there. Saying “racism doesn’t exist in football” because a small percentage of the unpaid student-athletes go on to make money in the NFL is not that.

Rating: ?????

Notable absences: Phil Mushnick.

Hot Take Standings: 

Stephen A. Smith – 118
Skip Bayless – 93
Phil Mushnick – 69
Colin Cowherd – 30
Shannon Sharpe – 22
JT The Brick – 17
Rick Morrissey – 13
Charles Barkley – 13
Doug Gottlieb – 13
Rob Parker – 12
Ray Lewis – 12
Don Cherry – 11
Chris Broussard – 10
Albert Breer – 10
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Bill Plaschke – 9
Tony Massarotti – 8
Jason McIntyre – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Dan Dakich – 7
Michael DeCourcy – 6
Kristine Leahy – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Jesse Watters – 5
Jeremy Roenick – 5
John McGrath – 5
Ross Tucker  – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 5
Bob Brookover – 5
Berry Tramel – 5
Mike Bianchi – 5
Terry Frei – 5
David Jones – 5
Sabrina Parr – 5
Abbey Mastracco – 5
Terry Cushman – 5
Rob Rossi – 5
Rick Bozich – 5
Michael O’Doherty – 5
Simon Briggs – 5
Dan Wetzel – 5
Mike Parry – 5
Bob Ryan – 5
Robert Reed – 5
Pete Dougherty – 5
Dan Le Batard – 5
Marcus Hayes – 5
Kyle Turley – 5
Mike Ditka – 5
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
Frank Isola – 5
Mark Spector – 4
Chad Forbes – 4
Gary Myers – 4
Mark Schlereth – 4
Andy Gray – 4
David Fleming – 4
The Sporting News – 4
Jeff Pearlman – 4
Tony Grossi – 4
FanSided – 4
Cris Carter – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Matt Burke – 3
Michael Rapaport – 3
Malcolm Gladwell – 3
Mike Milbury – 3
Mac Engel – 3
Nick Kypreos – 3
Jason Smith – 3
Caron Butler – 3
Don Brennan – 3
Robert Tychkowski – 3
Mike Johnston – 3
Mike Francesa – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Danny Kanell – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Paul Finebaum – 2
Charley Casserly – 2
Amin Elhassan – 2
Jim Henneman – 2
Mitch Lawrence – 2
Nick Wright – 2
Domonique Foxworth – 2
Gary Parrish – 2
Michael Farber – 2
Andy Furman – 2
Donovan McNabb – 2
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Dan Wolken – 2
Booger McFarland – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. As always, you can send submissions to me via e-mail or on Twitter.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.