This Week In Hot Takes

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes, this time examining the hottest sports media takes from Nov. 24-30. 

5. Mike Francesa hates NFL celebrations: We’ve seen plenty of people with hot takes on sports celebrations over the years, particularly Phil Mushnick, but one of Mushnick’s long-time media adversaries brought his own this week. WFAN’s Mike Francesa is going out with a bang before his departure later this month, and while this wasn’t his most passionate rant of the week (that would be the one on Ben McAdoo for benching Eli Manning), Francesa’s case there was much more supportable. This one (via Funhouse) was just Francesa complaining about NFL celebrations for no good reason:

“The league is allowing so much garbage in the end zone now. It’s hard to know what’s allowed and not allowed, even for an individual player, because there’s so much garbage going on! I mean, soon we’re going to have choreographers for these things! The league, trying to act like they’re allowing their players to express themselves and have fun, have really turned it into a bunch of garbage in the end zone. That’s not football. It annoys the heck out of me. I just try not to watch it when it happens, I just can’t even, ‘Oh, let’s see what there is, there’s a theme here. Let’s see if we can guess the theme of this celebration.'”

“…We’re going to have people in the booth have to sit there and analyze? ‘Oh, let’s see what today’s theme is! Okay! Today’s theme is turkey dinner! Okay great. Give me a break. They’re having, look, they’re eating!’ What are we watching here, Sesame Street or the NFL? ‘We’re having a theme! Let’s see what the theme is! All the players are gathered around the table. Look! They’re taking a turkey out –’Give me a break. This cannot be what the league wants. This clown of a commissioner, you cannot tell me that’s what you want the league to represent now. We kneel for the national anthem, now we put skits on after touchdowns!”

Well, it’s pretty clear that it’s not what Francesa wants. Touchdown celebrations seem much too fun for him.

Rating: ???

4. Phil Mushnick goes after Marshawn Lynch and Jason Derulo: Speaking of Mushnick, he of course delivered an archaic take of his own this week, this time around saying that Raiders’ running back Marshawn Lynch’s decision to sit for the anthem was invalid because of Lynch’s past legal trouble and celebrations:

With protests now as common as Ethel Merman imitations, it’s time to examine the protesters, starting with those who have exploited the TV-reliant NFL and our national anthem to protest alleged police brutality by racist cops (of all races), one week, President Tweet, the next.

Oakland’s Marshawn Lynch made big news and noise last Sunday in Mexico City, where he respectfully stood for Mexico’s anthem but then again showed his rude side to the U.S. anthem.

And if one read and/or listened to reports of this “protest,” one could logically conclude Lynch is a legitimate social activist, an advocate of right over perceived wrongs.

But if one were to apply Lynch’s NFL bio, his ascension to conspicuous and now international social protester would be — or should be — reported as preposterous.

In 2008, Lynch, with the Bills, was driving his new Porsche at 3:30 a.m., when he struck a pedestrian then fled. He pleaded guilty to hit-and-run and had his license revoked. But he was still able to play — and for millions of dollars — in the NFL. There’s nothing he can do to prevent that.

In 2012, Lynch was arrested for DWI then plea-bargained to a reduced charge.

Three times Lynch “celebrated” a TD by grabbing his crotch. In 2014, the NFL fined him $11,000 for his vulgarity, but Lynch did it again before a national TV audience in the 2015 NFC Championship.

This season, Lynch was fined for making an obscene gesture during a game.

Yet, none of this was heard or read in the reports of his “protest” in Mexico City. And although it’s doubtful that any of us could remain employed with his bio, Lynch continues to be employed, this time, a $9 million contract plus “incentives.”

As a practical matter, protesting players concede that the NFL is a business. Yet, when signing Colin Kaepernick is avoided as a bad business decision — one that will diminish a team’s customers, thus revenue — it’s presented by the wishful as a racial matter, although the league is predominated by well-paid African-Americans.

None of that’s particularly relevant to Lynch’s protest, and saying that the NFL’s players can’t protest social injustice because they’re well-paid is a particularly bad take. It’s the complaints about Lynch’s crotch-grabbing “vulgarity” that are exceptionally irrelevant, though. But that’s par for the course for the puritanical Mushnick, who previously went after Antonio Brown for “a vulgar groin-thrusting TD dance that mimed copulation” (read: twerking) and after rappers for “boasting of their sexual degradation of women.” He picked up on that latter thread later on in his Lynch column, going after, of all people, Jason Derulo:

Nothing said “Thanksgiving” quite like the halftime show of Vikings-Lions, seen on FOX. The holiday’s warm family atmosphere was beautifully captured by a salacious, gotta-have-sex-with-her song and shake-your-groove-thing dance performed by Jason Derulo and troupe — introduced by Joe Buck as “a special Thanksgiving halftime show.”

Special? Inappropriate has become standard appropriate, even on Thanksgiving afternoon.

Mushnick is an even more cartoonish version of Helen “Won’t someone think of the children!” Lovejoy. And yet, he still has a column.

Rating: ???

3. Stephen A. Smith calls Greg Schiano not being hired at Tennessee “a travesty of justice”: Tennessee’s decision not to hire Greg Schiano after all in the wake of massive protests (around Schiano being mentioned in a civil lawsuit as having observed sexual abuse at Penn State, complaints about how he treated players at Rutgers and Tampa Bay, and his overall resume not actually being that impressive) provoked a huge amount of backlash from some prominent media figures, and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith had one of the hotter takes there:

“I think this is a travesty, and I want to be on the record stating that I think Greg Schiano is being royally screwed over in all of this. This is a travesty of justice.” He then spends a whole lot of time ranting about Joe Paterno, saying that Paterno knew about abuse at Penn State but Schiano didn’t (because he was “vetted” by subsequent jobs), and saying “For them to get in his way of getting a job for this reason is criminal.”

Rating: ????

2. Pat Forde calls Schiano critics a “lynch mob” and “delusional loudmouths”: Speaking of Schiano takes, Yahoo’s Pat Forde certainly brought the heat in his column on the subject:

As Yahoo Sports reported, the school was poised to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano — the guy who achieved the impossible by making Rutgers respectable earlier this century. And then came the lynch mob to destroy the deal.

You people are ridiculous. Not all of you, but the delusional loudmouths who somehow think a program with a 62-63 record over the last decade is too good for Schiano. The internet vigilantes who want to bully their way into running the school’s coaching search. The piling-on politicians. The protestors. The rock painters. The rubes who still are waiting for Jon Gruden to slide down the chimney.

But the worst among the Tennessee lunatic fringe are the disingenuous liars who say this Schiano backlash is about Mike McQueary’s testimony regarding Jerry Sandusky and things that happened at Penn State, when in reality it’s because they don’t think Schiano is going to win a Southeastern Conference title. Don’t go getting righteously indignant when this has nothing to do with being righteous and everything to do with trying to beat Georgia.

Carnival barker Clay Travis, who spent Sunday fomenting this revolt, makes it clear in this column what he thinks is the primary problem with Schiano: “In what universe does it make sense to hire Greg [expletive] Schiano right now? We’re talking about a guy with a losing record in college football at Rutgers who got fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and just vanished from coaching until Urban Meyer decided to hire him as defensive coordinator.” In the next paragraph, he gets to the Penn State business. But first? First and foremost? It’s the mortal sin of a losing record at Rutgers.

If you are a Tennessee fan who has sincere ethical qualms about what Schiano may have known at Penn State many years ago, fine. The attorney general who prosecuted the Sandusky case doesn’t, but OK. Ohio State apparently is satisfied with Schiano’s reputation, since it has employed him the last two years.

But if you used this as a Trojan horse to blockade a coaching hire you don’t like because you think Tennessee football deserves better, shame on you. And now that the Schiano hire has been blown up because of this, good luck landing the next guy. Who would want to deal with this fan base right now?

Forde has a point that it’s problematic for people to pretend their criticism of Schiano is over what he’s accused of having known at Penn State if it’s actually not. But criticism of Schiano’s coaching record is absolutely fair; he went 68-67 overall at Rutgers, with his biggest successes coming after the Big East was weakened in 2005’s conference realignment, and he went 11-21 as a NFL head coach. And he drew huge amounts of criticism from former players in both jobs. Yes, it’s problematic if people pretend their concerns are about Penn State if they’re about the other issues with Schiano, but there were a whole lot of good reasons for fans question that hire, especially as Tennessee went on to offer the job to more proven candidates like Mike Gundy and Mike Leach. But sure, “loudmouth” Tennessee fans shouldn’t be speaking out about if they think a hire is good or bad. Leave that to the loudmouth columnists.

Rating: ?????

1. Steve Buffery condemns those criticizing Gregg Zaun: In the wake of Sportsnet Blue Jays analyst Gregg Zaun getting fired following allegations of “inappropriate behavior,” Toronto Sun columnist Buffery took to Twitter to not only defend Zaun, but to go after those criticizing him:

Never mind that Zaun was fired after what Rogers Media president Rick Brace described as “complaints from multiple female employees at Sportsnet regarding inappropriate behaviour and comments.” That’s not enough proof? Clearly it’s terrible to comment on someone whose behavior was problematic enough their company fired them for it.

Rating: ?????

Notable absences: Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd

Hot Take Standings: 

Stephen A. Smith – 150
Skip Bayless – 120
Phil Mushnick – 100
Colin Cowherd – 43
Shannon Sharpe – 30
Rob Parker – 23
Doug Gottlieb – 22
Charles Barkley – 19
JT The Brick – 17
Albert Breer – 16
Don Cherry – 15
Ray Lewis – 14
Rick Morrissey – 13
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Chris Broussard – 10
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Bill Plaschke – 9
Michael Rapaport – 8
Tony Massarotti – 8
Jason McIntyre – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Pat Forde – 7
Danny Kanell – 7
Dan Dakich – 7
Mike Francesa – 6
Keith Olbermann – 6
Michael DeCourcy – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Steve Buffery – 5
Joe Morgan – 5
Michael Felger – 5
Howard Eskin – 5
Nancy Armour – 5
Richard Justice – 5
John Middlekauff – 5
Bill Plaschke – 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5
Jesse Watters – 5
Jeremy Roenick – 5
John McGrath – 5
Ross Tucker  – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 5
Bob Brookover – 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
Michael Irvin – 4
Ryen Russillo – 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
Cris Carter – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Mike Sheahan – 3
Bob Ford – 3
Dan Shaughnessy – 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
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
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.