Jason Smith had the hottest take from Aug 10-16.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes! This time, we’re looking at the hottest sports media takes from August 10-16.

5. Andy Benoit says Aaron Rodgers’ reputation comes from winning a Super Bowl early: Sports Illustrated NFL writer Benoit has been known for some spicy takes over the years, going in hard on women’s sports and college football. This time around, he’s weighing in on a NFL player, arguing that Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ reputation is based on the Super Bowl he won in 2010:


Look, on one level, Benoit isn’t totally wrong; many media members do constantly judge individual athletes, especially quarterbacks, by championships, despite the flaws in that approach. And yes, Rodgers winning a Super Bowl early on meant that he hasn’t had to face the “But is he clutch?” questions. However, there’s a whole lot beyond just that Super Bowl to suggest that Rodgers has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league over his career so far, from the nearly 40,000 passing yards to the 65.1 percent completion rate to the 313 touchdowns against 78 interceptions to the six Pro Bowl selections and two first-team All-Pro nods. It’s been about more than just that Super Bowl.

Rating: 🔥🔥

4. Michael Wilbon calls Jalen Ramsey “unaccomplished’: Speaking of commentary on players’ reputations, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon delivered a spicy take from the other side. After Jacksonville Jaguars’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey delivered some emphatic criticisms of many NFL quarterbacks to GQ‘s Clay Skipper, Wilbon decided to bash Ramsey on PTI, including calling him “unaccomplished”:

Wilbon asks co-host Frank Isola “My question, Frank, is if a third-year player as unaccomplished as Jalen Ramsey has any business going after other players like this so publicly?” Isola responds with “Well, he has been an All-Pro” and Wilbon interrupts with “How many times has he been an All-Pro?” Isola responds “Once, but guess what, they made the AFC championship game.” Isola later points out that many defensive backs have talked trash, including Richard Sherman and Deion Sanders, and Wilbon interrupts with “He ain’t Deion and he ain’t Richard Sherman!” He later says “Jalen Ramsey has done nothing! One-time All-Pro doesn’t make you jack! He hasn’t been in the Super Bowl, he’s done nothing, he’s not Deion! Deion played two sports!”

It’s ridiculous from Wilbon to describe a first-team All-Pro as “unaccomplished” and say he’s “done nothing.” Reaching that level is incredibly hard, and very few players ever do it. And Ramsey is only 23 and has only played two seasons in the NFL; earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods in one of those is pretty darn good. (Plus, his first season of 16 starts, 55 tackles and two interceptions was pretty good as well.) For the record, Sherman earned a first-team All-Pro selection in his second season as well, but Sanders didn’t get there until his fourth season, so Ramsey’s already ahead there. And Sanders’ multi-sport status has no bearing on this whatsoever. It’s also funny that Wilbon, known for his over-the-top criticisms of athletes, is delivering another over-the-top criticism of an athlete…for that athlete criticizing other athletes. Apparently you can only do that if you’re a PTI host, not an actual athlete.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

3. Will Muschamp says ESPN’s Maryland report has “no credibility” thanks to anonymous sources”: We usually keep this column to sports media figures rather than coaches and athletes, but South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp’s takes on the media (and ESPN in particular) deserve to be included this week. In the wake of an exhaustive ESPN report on the problematic culture at Maryland in the wake of Jordan McNair’s death, a report which has prompted an investigation from that university and one which was part of head coach D.J. Durkin being placed on leave, Muschamp decided to weigh in and bash…ESPN’s reporting?

“I will use your word, alleged article. There’s no credibility in anonymous sources. If that former staffer had any guts, why didn’t he put his name on that? I think that’s gutless. And in any business and any company and in any football team, especially right here in August, you can find a disgruntled player that’s probably not playing. So I think it’s a lack of journalistic integrity to print things with anonymous sources.”

Yes, use of anonymous sources can have its perils, especially when it comes to anonymous scouts or executives criticizing particular players or prospects; there are plenty of problematic potential agendas there. But this isn’t that; that ESPN report wasn’t vague complaints about Durkin’s cooking or something similarly irrelevant, it was specific accusations of problematic behavior from Durkin, his assistants, and since-let-go strength coach Rick Court in particular.

And there are reasons for granting anonymity there given the power dynamics; the players in question have next to no power, and could be benched at Maryland or rejected even as transfers if they spoke out openly, and coaching has often ostracized whistleblowers, even those who exposed horrible things. Consider the Baylor basketball scandal, where head coach Dave Bliss later got another job after being caught on tape telling players to say murdered player Patrick Dennehy was a drug dealer so the program’s illicit payments to him wouldn’t come out, but whistleblowing assistant Abar Rouse was forced out of the profession. So anonymity here makes total sense. And Muschamp’s bashing of it really overlooks the point of that report, and just shows him standing up for his friend and former assistant rather than actually saying anything valid.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

2. Keith Hernandez endorses the beaning of Ronald Acuña, then doubles down: A lot of hot takes this week came around Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Ureña drilling Atlanta Braves’ star outfielder Ronald Acuña with the first pitch of Wednesday’s game, and SNY Mets’ analyst Keith Hernandez had some of the spiciest. During the broadcast of the Mets-Orioles game that night, Hernandez went on quite the rant in defense of the beaning:

“In today’s game, you don’t throw at hitters, so I don’t think they know, they don’t know how to get out of the way of a ball, or know it’s coming. But you hit three home runs, I’m sorry, you’re going to go down. You’re going to lean over the plate, you’re going to let them put a whupping on you? It’s not going to happen. And I know that happens in today’s game. Obviously, it’s the Marlins, I’m sure [manager] Don Mattingly ordered that, I don’t think the pitcher did, not today’s pitchers. There was a day where when you didn’t have to tell the pitcher, if he’s getting his fanny kicked, he would knock someone down. They’re playing the Cardinals, excuse me.” [They were not playing the Cardinals.]

“So you’ve got two teams fighting for a division, fighting for a wild-card.” [Play-by-play commentator Wayne Randazzo corrects Hernandez about the Braves playing the Marlins.] “Oh, they’re playing the Marlins, I’m sorry, I got messed up there. So you’ve got a team that’s out of it that’s retaliating, and that’s just part of the baseball code. If someone’s hitting home runs, leaning over home plate, I’m sorry, I’m not going to let you do that. Here’s one in your ribs, or on your back, and let’s see if you stay in there next time. That’s just my strong feeling.”

He then continued:

“They’re killing you. You lost three games. He’s hit three home runs. You got to hit him. I’m sorry, people are not going to like that. You know, you got to hit him, knock him down. I mean, seriously knock him down if you don’t hit him. You never throw at anybody’s head or neck. You hit him in the back. You hit him in the fanny.”

This understandably provoked a lot of criticism for Hernandez, from everyone from Stephen A. Smith through Mina Kimes through Gregg Giannotti, Buster Olney and Mike Vaccaro. So you’d think he might take a step back and reconsider the next day. He did not, instead doubling down:

“I only needed to see it once, and that’s all I have seen it. My opinions haven’t changed. I don’t think the pitch was that bad, to be honest with you. It wasn’t anywhere near the head. I was very clear in the booth that I draw the line at anything from the neck above, headhunting, and also that a pitcher with an intent to hurt. Sometimes you have to brush people back. This is an incredible streak that Acuña is on now, and a home run streak to boot.”

“The pitch that I saw, it started off on the inner half, a little bit on the inside corner, and ran inside. It was around waist level. Acuña could have turned his back, who knows, it’s split-second, but he did drop his elbow to deflect the ball, and unfortunately he got hit in the elbow, and that’s one place you don’t want to get hit. If he hadn’t gotten his elbow there, he’d have gotten hit in the side by the waistline, or in the small of his back, and everything would have been fine. So I stand firmly by what I said, and I don’t think the pitch was that terrible.”

Yes, Hernandez played in a different era (albeit one where players weren’t beaned as often as you might think), but it’s remarkable how far his take differs from much of the rest of the baseball world on this one. Beaning players under any circumstances is controversial, and many would argue that it has no place in the game at all, but the hit on Acuña was criticized even by many of those who do endorse the idea of throwing at players under certain circumstances; it came only in response to him doing his job well, and it came as the very first pitch of the game. And Keith’s hot takes here have him in stark contrast to much of the world. But he’s not alone, as we’ll see with the next entry.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

1. Jason Smith says Acuña beaning “is baseball,” is how the other team “evens the playing field,” and Tiger Woods “dominated a bad era of golf”: Fox Sports Radio host Jason Smith is back on his hot takes, this time arguing that the hit on Acuña was a natural part of the game:

He then followed this argument up on the radio:

Just saying “That’s baseball” isn’t an argument, Jason, and many out there are convinced it isn’t baseball. And deliberately hitting an opposing player is a hell of a way to “even the playing field.” This wasn’t even Smith’s only spicy take this week, though:

Sure thing, Jason. Just keep on keeping on with those hot takes.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Hot Take Standings: 

Jason Whitlock – Hall of Fame
Stephen A. Smith – 208
Skip Bayless – 183
Phil Mushnick – 142
Colin Cowherd – 66
Rob Parker – 44
Doug Gottlieb – 41
Shannon Sharpe – 35
Ray Lewis – 25
Albert Breer – 23
Britt McHenry – 20
JT The Brick – 20
Charles Barkley – 19
Dan Shaughnessy – 17
Ben Maller – 15
Don Cherry – 15
Bill Plaschke – 14
Andy Benoit – 13
Chris Broussard – 13
Dan Dakich – 13
Rick Morrissey – 13
Darren Rovell – 12
John Middlekauff – 11
Tony Massarotti – 11
Jason McIntyre – 11
Michael DeCourcy – 11
Keith Olbermann – 11
Joe Simpson – 10
Danny Kanell – 10
Bob Brookover – 10
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
The Sporting News – 9
Mike Francesa – 9
Ross Tucker – 9
Ryen Russillo – 9
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Jason Smith – 8
Steve Simmons – 8
Frank Isola – 8
Michael Rapaport – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Cris Carter – 7
Pat Forde – 7
Michael Wilbon – 6
Pat Leonard – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Keith Hernandez – 5
Bill O’Reilly – 5
Brandel Chamblee – 5
Michael McCarthy – 5
Mike “The Reputation Doctor®”  Paul – 5
Dennis Dodd – 5
Rich Lowry – 5
Chris Reed – 5
San Diego Union-Tribune – 5
David Hookstead – 5
Tomm Looney – 5
Alex Shaw – 5
Rick Reilly – 5
Randall Mell – 5
Ian O’Connor – 5
Michael Bamberger – 5
Bob Bubka – 5
Cathal Kelly – 5
Pete Prisco – 5
Damien Cox – 5
Bill Simons – 5
Christine Flowers – 5
Jason Lieser – 5
John Steigerwald – 5
Josh Peter – 5
Alexi Lalas  – 5
Greg Gabriel  – 5
John Moody  – 5
Marni Soupcoff – 5
Ryan Rishaug – 5
Kurtis Larson  – 5
Rod Watson  – 5
Dan Wolken – 5
Chuck Modiano – 5
Joel Klatt – 5
Steve Buffery – 5
Joe Morgan – 5
Michael Felger – 5
Howard Eskin – 5
Nancy Armour – 5
Richard Justice – 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5
Jesse Watters – 5
John McGrath – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 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
Evan Roberts – 4
Corbin Smith  – 4
DJ Siddiqi  – 4
The Express  – 4
Mark Kiszla – 4
Greg Witter – 4
Myron Medcalf  – 4
Bill Polian – 4
MJ Franklin – 4
Alex Reimer – 4
Joan Vennochi – 4
Graham Couch – 4
Matt Yglesias – 4
Bill Livingston – 4
Michael Irvin – 4
Shawn Windsor – 4
Brock Huard – 4
Byron Tau – 4
Maggie Gray – 4
Michael Powell – 4
Mark Spector – 4
Chad Forbes – 4
Gary Myers – 4
Mark Schlereth – 4
Andy Gray – 4
David Fleming – 4
Jeff Pearlman – 4
Tony Grossi – 4
FanSided – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Will Muschamp – 3
Buck Lanford – 3
John Feinstein – 3
Stan Fischler – 3
Sonnie Wooden – 3
Chris Jones – 3
Kelly Smith – 3
Reggie Miller – 3
Mark Madden – 3
Larry Brooks – 3
Dan Canova – 3
Steve Rosenbloom – 3
Stephen Jackson – 3
Mike Sando – 3
Walt Borla – 3
Chris Russo  – 3
Nick Cafardo – 3
Ice Cube – 3
Justin Peters – 3
Elise Finch – 3
Kevin Skiver  – 3
David Bahnsen – 3
Harold Reynolds – 3
Kevin Reynolds – 3
Mike Sheahan – 3
Bob Ford – 3
Steve Greenberg – 3
Matt Burke – 3
Malcolm Gladwell – 3
Mike Milbury – 3
Mac Engel – 3
Nick Kypreos – 3
Caron Butler – 3
Don Brennan – 3
Robert Tychkowski – 3
Mike Johnston – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Ed Werder  – 2
Ben Mulroney – 2
Ron Cook – 2
Brian Kenny – 2
Barrett Sallee – 2
Craig Calcaterra – 2
Max Kellerman – 2
Gareth Wheeler – 2
John Cornyn – 2
Tony Dungy – 2
Bruce Jenkins – 2
Chris Wesseling – 2
Seth Greenberg – 2
Doug Smith – 2
Newsweek – 2
Teddy Cutler – 2
Will Cain – 2
Bill Cowher – 2
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
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.