Ray Lewis' thoughts on Odell Beckham J.r led This Week In Hot Takes for April 6-12.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes, where we break down all the hottest sports media takes of the week. This time around, we’re covering takes from April 6-12.

5. Steve Simmons gets mad at Marc Savard for not talking to media after career-ending concussions, urges media to not listen to Savard now: “Why won’t you talk to me?” whining from media members about specific players is one of the most obnoxious things out there, and it’s been used to justify everything from criticism of those players to not voting for them for awards or the Hall of Fame to now, apparently, urged boycotts. Last Saturday, Postmedia’s Steve Simmons wrote a column about how the shared experiences of life on the buses in junior hockey had led to the Humboldt Broncos’ tragedy resonating throughout the hockey world, but empathy and thoughtfulness apparently didn’t extend to the notes section he threw in at the end. One of those was about former Flames’, Thrashers’ and Bruins’ centre Marc Savard, who eventually had to leave the NHL following two concussions in less than the span of a year in 2010-11 and is now working to raise concussion awareness:

“Marc Savard basically disappeared when his career ended in Boston. Media called. Nobody answered. Now suddenly Savard is a media guy. My advice: If he calls, don’t answer.”

What a completely callous statement. Oh, and it’s one that also appears to be factually incorrect (shocking, considering that this is Steve “Phil Kessel eats hot dogs daily!” Simmons), as NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty noted that Savard responded to plenty of media.

Savard was always available to the media when he played and ready to cooperate, and I don’t know of anyone that wasn’t able to get in touch with him in trying to write about him after he effectively retired following his concussion issues. I always gave him his space because I’d heard for a while that he was having a tough time afterward his playing days were done in Boston, but you’d see stories or interviews pop up every now and then. If I had reached out to him and he didn’t want to talk, I would have totally understood and wouldn’t have held it against him.

So yes, Savard didn’t do a whirlwind media tour while he was battling terrible post-concussion symptoms, which is totally understandable. But he did still talk to people. Just not Simmons. I wonder why. And Savard himself called out Simmons this week:

So, to recap, Simmons tried to be vindictive over someone not taking his calls while dealing with post-concussion symptoms six years ago, tried to extend that narrative to the false “he didn’t talk to anyone!”, tried to use that as a reason for media not to give Savard space to talk about concussion issues (and even if Savard had been the world’s biggest jerk during and after his playing career, which he wasn’t, his experience with concussions would still make him a reasonable interview now), and got blasted by everyone for it. Good work there, Steve.

Rating:  ???

4. Andy Benoit argues “it’s fair to re-examine the historical record” on Richie Incognito’s involvement in the Miami bullying of Jonathan Martin because Martin’s having problems: At Sports Illustrated‘s The MMQB, Benoit wrote a look at the week’s 10 biggest NFL stories Friday (yes, this is technically after this hot takes period, but we snuck it in under the wire), with his #1 being the retirement of Buffalo Bills’ guard Richie Incognito.

1. Richie Incognito Retires

Bills guard Richie Incognito, not long after taking a pay cut, retired after 12 seasons, citing medical concerns with his liver and kidneys.

The timing and suddenness of this makes you wonder if Incognito’s retirement will hold. Let’s say it does. How should (should, not will) Incognito be remembered? The Jonathan Martin saga will be the first thing that comes to mind, but given what’s happened with Martin’s life since (it’s gone downhill, in an ugly, and lately, threatening way) and what’s happened with Incognito’s life (it’s gone uphill, with minimal off-field incidences and some terrific seasons at left guard in Buffalo), it’s fair to reexamine the historical record on Incognito’s ordeal in Miami.

Yes, things have gone horribly wrong with Martin, charged with making criminal threats after an Instagram post with a gun and an apparent threat against his high school (which cancelled classes over that), the Miami Dolphins, and former teammates like Incognito (who he specifically tagged). And there are plenty of disturbing details out there about what’s going on with him. But that doesn’t at all invalidate any of the bullying and harassment Incognito and others were found to have done to him in Miami; if anything, some of that may have caused some of the issues Martin is now dealing with. As Deadspin’s Tom Ley noted in a piece on this titled “Is This The Dumbest-Ass Shit Anyone Has Ever Written About Richie Incognito?”, this is a pretty hot take from Benoit:

Let’s try to follow the thinking that coursed through Andy Benoit’s tape-addled mind before this paragraph was produced:

  • Mostly sordid and tragic things have happened to Jonathan Martin since he left the NFL after being bullied by Incognito, who called Martin a “half-nigger piece of shit,” among other things.

  • Mostly positive things have happened to Richie Incognito since he bullied Jonathan Martin and called him a “half-nigger piece of shit.”

  • Because things have gone poorly for Martin and well for Incognito ever since the latter called the former a “half-nigger piece of shit,” it is now time to “reexamine the historical record on Incognito’s ordeal in Miami.”

Indeed. That’s not a good take at all.

Rating: ???

3. Jason McIntyre says the NFL should ban player protests, wonders “Why is this so difficult?” and “Can we move on?”: McIntyre, of The Big Lead and FS1’s Speak For Yourself, brought quite the take to the story of Colin Kaepernick reportedly having his Seahawks’ workout cancelled because he wouldn’t agree to stop kneeling during the national anthem. McIntyre wrote about this for The Big Lead, and brought the bold take that all of these protests should end because the NFL doesn’t want them:


‘Some highlights from McIntyre’s column:

Why are we so surprised by this? I know some people will yell about labor lawyers and such, but they are business that can be run however they see fit. In the NBA you cannot kneel. There’s a rule against it. The NFL should just adopt the same rule and move on. They’re letting this issue fester and drive people away from the game.

That’s some intense stanning for the NFL from a media figure, reminiscent of Chris Berman. Of course the NFL could specifically ban protests around the anthem if they wanted to, and there’s been some talk that they might try to, but actively rooting for the league to force players protesting social injustice to stop is a take and a half. And even if the NFL is “drive people away from the game” (sic) by not banning these protests (debatable, especially as there would likely be boycotts from the other side in the case of a hard-and-fast ban), it’s interesting to have a media member argue that the league should stop players’ protests.

Moreover, McIntyre’s subsequent tweet implies protests shouldn’t happen just because the league and teams don’t want them (are leagues always right now?), and it’s weird that he’s wondering “Why is this so difficult?” In essence, he’s arguing that players should stop protests because they might be kept out of the league if they don’t (as Kaepernick and Eric Reid have been so far), and that everyone should just accept that and “move on.” And that’s a hot take.

Rating: ???

2. Stephen A. Smith goes on quite the weed rant about Martellus Bennett’s comments: Former Patriots’ tight end Martellus Bennett told Bleacher Report’s Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe this week that “89 percent” of the NFL smokes marijuana to handle pain, and that led to ESPN’s Smith (known for repeatedly going off on weed) blasting Bennett on First Take Thursday:

Some highlights:

“I’m not calling his comments dumb, I’m saying it was a dumb time for him to do that, it was ill-advised, this is not the time for him to be saying that with the residue of the protests and all that it caused, it involved the president last year, it affected ratings to some degree, that’s undeniable in a lot of people’s eyes, plus his brother has legal issues that are pending as we speak, so it’s just not a wise thing for him to say.”

“You also gotta know when when you’re us. Because the rules are different for us. And that’s something that’s not talked about nearly enough. White folks, those who happen to be Jewish, those who happen to not be Jewish, and the like, you live in a different bubble. It’s not negative, it’s not bad, it’s not a knock, it’s not to say that nobody has suffered but the African-American community, but you come from a different place and a different world, and the kind of mistakes that you end up making don’t wind up costing you the same way that it costs us.

These are the things that African-Americans throughout this country have lamented for decades, if not centuries. It’s our reality. So when I sit up here on national television and I’m getting on somebody about pulling their pants up, or not having gold teeth in their mouth, or not having tattoos on their face and their neck and their head, and all of this other stuff, or not smoking weed or anything like that, sure, you and others can tell them, ‘Go ahead and do that, you should have the right to do that,’ and theoretically speaking, you’re right. But from a literal perspective, what kind of damage is it going to cause people?”

As co-host Max Kellerman notes, Bennett didn’t name any names, and he’s far from the first player to mention that lots of NFL players use marijuana, so it’s hard to see too much “damage” coming from his comments. And it’s unclear why this has anything to do with player protests, Michael Bennett’s legal issues, or anything else.

Rating: ????

1. Ray Lewis goes after Odell Beckham Jr. over…religion? 

It’s continually bewildering that Ray Lewis, he of the guilty plea to obstruction of justice following the murders of two men, both A. has a TV job and B. uses every opportunity to talk about how religious and holier-than-thou he is. And he took that to a new level this week, going on The Herd and blasting the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. over religion:

“Where there’s no God, there’s chaos. Odell has removed God from his life. This is a kid who grew up under the covenant of who God really is. And everything that he’s doing, he’s crying out for help.”

“…We have a lot of people reporting about it, but it’s always been the duty of elders to go back to help him. So that’s why I raised my hand. And I told him, ‘I’m here [for] whatever you need.’”

“…It’s the commitment he started to make. So we started to make those phone calls, we started to have conversation. And then I started to see [that] he started to distance himself a little more, a little more, and a little more. And the moment — just listen to me, Colin, I don’t care about religion, I’m talking about a foundation. When your foundation is disturbed, when everything you’re doing is the opposite of what’s got you to this place, then you’re making your own bed hard.”

If religion works for Lewis, great, but it’s an incredible stretch to both publicly judge Beckham’s own faith from the outside and then say Beckham’s life is in “chaos” because of it. Last we checked, that chaos involves no murders and no criminal charges, so he’s doing better than Lewis. And, this really comes off as more of a way for Lewis to promote himself, with him saying Beckham is only in the headlines because he turned down Lewis’ particular variety of Bible-thumping help.

And none of this really even makes any sense. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk did a nice job of talking about how absurd the repeated comments about Beckham from figures like Lewis and Cris Carter have been in a piece titled “Ray Lewis has a theory about OBJ, but it’s unclear what the theory is,” and that brings to mind a similarly obtuse jumble of word salad masquerading as a “theory”:

I’d take Anne Elk as a football pundit over Ray Lewis any day. It should also be noted that Lewis doubled down on this later on Speak For Yourself:

And that’s the same sort of absurdity, but that one didn’t get as much attention because no one actually watches Speak For Yourself.

Rating: ?????

Hot Take Standings:

Stephen A. Smith – 188
Skip Bayless – 147
Phil Mushnick – 125
Colin Cowherd – 49
Shannon Sharpe – 35
Rob Parker – 29
Doug Gottlieb – 22
Ray Lewis – 21
JT The Brick – 20
Charles Barkley – 19
Albert Breer – 16
Don Cherry – 15
Bill Plaschke – 14
Chris Broussard – 13
Dan Dakich – 13
Rick Morrissey – 13
Jason McIntyre – 11
Michael DeCourcy – 11
Bob Brookover – 10
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Ross Tucker – 9
Keith Olbermann – 9
Ryen Russillo – 9
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Steve Simmons – 8
Dan Shaughnessy – 8
Frank Isola – 8
Michael Rapaport – 8
Tony Massarotti – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Andy Benoit – 7
Cris Carter – 7
Pat Forde – 7
Danny Kanell – 7
Pat Leonard – 6
Mike Francesa – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
John Steigerwald – 5
Josh Peter – 5
Darren Rovell – 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
Britt McHenry – 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
John Middlekauff – 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
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
The Sporting News – 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
Ice Cube – 3
Cathal Kelly – 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
Jason Smith – 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
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.