The hottest takes for Dec. 28-Jan. 4 centered on Antonio Brown.

Welcome back to This Week In Hot Takes! This time around, we’re looking at takes from Dec. 28-Jan 4. (One this morning snuck in under the wire.)

5.ย Don Cherry blames Canada’s World Junior Championships loss to Finland…on their 14-0 win over Denmark?ย Takes against teams supposedly “running up the score” are always fun; it seems dumb to tell players to just stop playing once they’re ahead, especially in sports where individual stats often matter. But Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry took it to a whole new level Wednesday, saying that the Canadian men’s national junior team’s 2-1 overtime loss to Finland in the quarterfinals of the World Junior Championships was thanks to…their 14-0 win over Denmark in round-robin play.

Denmark is not Finland, and there’s no actual correlation between those two events other than mumbo-jumbo about “the hockey gods”; it seems unlikely that Canada instead winning 2-0 or 3-0 win against Denmark would have changed anything at all in the quarterfinals game. But sure, argue “They lost because they previously won by too much.”

Rating:ย ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

4. Darren Rovell says Amanda Nunes has “singlehandedly killed the most valuable women in the sport,” her win is “brutally damaging to UFC”:ย Action Network’s Rovell has long been known for strange takes about athletes’ and sports’ bottom lines, and he delivered on that again this week, claiming that Amanda Nunes’ UFC 232 win over Cris Cyborg Saturday was “brutally damaging for UFC” and she “isn’t in the same marketing ballpark” as Cyborg or Ronda Rousey (who Nunes previously beat at UFC 207 in 2016, Rousey’s last MMA fight before she left for WWE):

Rovell understandably took a lot of criticism for that, including from UFC president Dana White:

Rovell then doubled down the next day with a piece headlined “Amanda Nunesโ€™ Greatness Doesnโ€™t Make Her Marketable โ€” And Dana White Knows It“:

In there, Rovell cites everything from PPV numbers to Instagram followers to endorsement deals, but what he’s really proving is that he used the wrong wording in the first place. He can prove that Nunes currently has fewer followers and endorsement deals than Cyborg and others, and that her past non-Rousey PPVs haven’t performed as well as some other fighters’ PPV matchups (but she should get some of the credit for the numbers for the fights with Rousey and Cyborg too), but that doesn’t say anything about her current marketability or if her win is “brutally damaging for UFC.”

Big wins like this one tend to give athletes a significant boost, and while Nunes hasn’t always wanted to play the marketing game the way others have, she’ll certainly at least have more opportunities in the wake of this one. It’s also notable that this was her eighth UFC win in a row, and her fifth straight in a main event; that’s going to further help get Nunes on the wider radar. And her win may not wind up being “damaging” for the UFC at all; as Julie Kedzie noted on Twitter, we’ve heard this narrative before, including with a victory that helped put Cyborg on the map.

Indeed. If Rovell wants to claim that Nunes is currently less known and less popular than Cyborg, there’s a case there. But that doesn’t mean she always will be, especially as the impact of this win hasn’t yet been considered in her “marketing ballpark.” And it doesn’t make her win “brutally damaging to UFC.” If anything, it gives them an opportunity to promote a different face, and one with a remarkable resume at this point. And it sets White up to look good with an easy dunk on Rovell, which only goes to further help promote Nunes. So congrats on helping to ruin your own “brutally damaging to UFC” narrative, Darren.

Rating:ย ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

3. Peter Kingย  publicly changes All-Pro ballot because he”can’t in good conscience” give Antonio Brown a vote:ย There have been a whole lot of takes out there on the Antonio Brown-Pittsburgh Steelers divide, and NBC’s King brought a significant amount of grandstanding to his. On NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk Live Friday morning, King said he removed Brown from his All-Pro ballot thanks to that feud with the team, claiming he “canโ€™t in good conscience put a guy who took the equivalent of six percent of the season and flushed it down the toilet”:

As AA’s Phillip Bupp wrote in our above-linked piece on this, the bigger issue is King making this a public stand about conscience. When King submitted his ballot Monday, he had Brown, DeAndre Hopkins and Tyreek Hill, but he opted to change that vote to Michael Thomas afterwards thanks to reporting about Brown skipping practices and the Steelers benching him for Sunday’s final game as a result. A Hopkins/Hill/Thomas ballot would have been quite defensible, with those players being second, fourth and sixth in the NFL in receiving yards (Brown is 11th), but it’s the grandstanding about this that’s silly.

And that’s particularly true considering that King previously argued that only performance on the field matters, going to the wall to defend Darren Sharper’s Hall of Fame candidacyย while Sharper was facing serial rape charges in multiple states (Sharper would eventually plead guilty to sexual assault of 16 women in four states, and has decades ahead on multiple prison sentences). So multiple charges of sexual assault won’t get King to treat a player differently in a vote, but reporting about skipping practices will. Okay then.

Rating:ย ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

2. Rob Rossi writes that “cowardly” Antonio Brown has “betrayed Mike Tomlin and the Steelers”:ย If there’s a Pittsburgh sports situation in the news, it’s a good bet Rob Rossi is going to say something stupid about it. Rossi, previously of theย Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewย and Upgruv (“What’s Upgruv?”), has shown up around here before for his May 2017 press conference disruption/conspiracy theory column/WWE promo on then-Washington Capitals’ coach Barry Trotz, and he’s said a lot of other dumb things over the years, but this “Cowardly Antonio Brown has betrayed Mike Tomlin and the Steelers” column is a remarkable one:

Antonioโ€‹ Brown is a coward.

Too harsh?ย 

Actually, itโ€‹ might notโ€‹ beโ€‹ harshโ€‹ enough. But this being Pittsburgh, where theโ€‹ termโ€‹ โ€œblue collarโ€โ€‹โ€‹ remains aspirational, calling somebody a โ€œcowardโ€ remains a damning critique of a personโ€™s character.

But who are we kidding? When it comes to his actions inside the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, Brown lacks character. Cowards always do.

…Despite his indisputable numbers and his unmatchable talent, he never again should be mentioned as one of the all-time Steelers.

He should never againย playย for the Steelers.

Trade him. That is what the Steelers should do โ€” even if Brown hasnโ€™t โ€œformallyโ€ asked to be moved. If there are no takers, the Steelers should cut Brown,ย potential salary-cap hellย be damned.

Salary-cap hell without Brown is better for the Steelers than letting a proud franchise go to hell…

Now that’s the kind of in-depth journalism worth subscribing to The Athletic for! Remember, as every writer who goes there will tell you,ย storytelling matters, not hot takes.

Rating:ย ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

1.ย Greg Gabriel claims NFL teams were wise to avoid Antonio Brown in draft, “teams know what they’re doing”:ย The wildest take on the Brown situation isn’t Rossi’s, though. It’s from former NFL scout Greg Gabriel (seen here last Februaryย defending Bill Polian’s take that Lamar Jackson is short and should switch to WR, and claiming thatย  Louisville “does not have a very complex offense” and “quarterbacks who come from those types of offenses often struggle when they get into the league; how’s that one holding up, Greg?), who used this week’s events to retroactively defend teams passing on Brown in the 2010 NFL draft, where he was picked 195th overall:

Ah, yes, a few skipped practices and a potential trade demand nine years later are totally worth passing on a player who’s been a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time All-Pro pick, has 11,207 regular-season receiving yards to date, and has twice led the NFL in receiving yards, twice led the league in receptions, and posted league-high touchdown numbers this year despite only playing in 15 games.

Some receivers drafted before Brown in 2010 include Demaryius Thomas (first round, 22nd overall, 1,877 less regular season yards to date), Dez Bryant (first round, 24th overall, 3,748 less regular season yards to date), Arrelious Benn (second round, 37th overall, 10,217 less regular season yards to date, out of the league this year), Golden Tate (second round, 60th overall, 3,993 less regular season yards to date), Damian Williams (third round, 77th overall, 9,880 less regular season yards to date, out of the league since 2015), Brandon LaFell (third round, 78th overall, 5,809 less regular season yards to date), and Taylor Price (third round, 90th overall, 11,127 less regular season yards to date, out of the league since 2014). But those teams totally know what they’re doing all right. Genius organizations like the New England Patriots passed on Brown, with the Patriots instead picking Price, knowing that 80 career yards totally beats 11,207 if the player with 11,207 is going to skip practice nine years down the road. That’s some galaxy-brain level stupidity, Greg.

Rating:ย ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Hot Take Standings:

Jason Whitlock โ€“ Hall of Fame
Stephen A. Smith โ€“ 223
Skip Bayless โ€“ 198
Phil Mushnick โ€“ 167
Colin Cowherd โ€“ 74
Doug Gottlieb โ€“ 53
Rob Parker โ€“ 51
Shannon Sharpe โ€“ 35
Albert Breer โ€“ 29
Dan Shaughnessy โ€“ 26
Ray Lewis โ€“ 25
Darren Rovell โ€“ 20
Danny Kanell โ€“ 20
Britt McHenry โ€“ 20
JT The Brick โ€“ 20
Charles Barkley โ€“ 19
Don Cherry โ€“ 18
Jason McIntyre โ€“ 16
Andy Benoit โ€“ 15
Tony Massarotti โ€“ 15
Ben Maller โ€“ 15
Bill Plaschke โ€“ 14
Kirk Herbstreit โ€“ 13
Mike Felger โ€“ 13
The Sporting News โ€“ 13
Chris Broussard โ€“ 13
Dan Dakich โ€“ 13
Rick Morrissey โ€“ 13
Michael Wilbon โ€“ 12
John Middlekauff โ€“ 11
Michael DeCourcy โ€“ 11
Keith Olbermann โ€“ 11
Greg Gabriel โ€“ 10
Rob Rossi โ€“ 10
Bill James โ€“ 10
Jason Smith โ€“ 10
Joe Simpson โ€“ 10
Bob Brookover โ€“ 10
Jeremy Roenick โ€“ 10
Berry Tramel โ€“ 10
Kristine Leahy โ€“ 10
Graham Couch โ€“ 9
Chris โ€œMad Dogโ€ Russo โ€“ 9
Mike Francesa โ€“ 9
Ross Tucker โ€“ 9
Ryen Russillo โ€“ 9
Garth Crooks โ€“ 9
C.J. Nitkowski โ€“ 9
Steve Simmons โ€“ 8
Frank Isola โ€“ 8
Michael Rapaport โ€“ 8
Bart Hubbuch โ€“ 8
Trent Dilfer โ€“ 7
Damien Cox โ€“ 7
Mike Bianchi โ€“ 7
Cris Carter โ€“ 7
Pat Forde โ€“ 7
The Wall Street Journal โ€“ 6
Pat Leonard โ€“ 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen โ€“ 6
Terry Bradshaw โ€“ 6
Greg A. Bedard โ€“ 6
Matt Walshย โ€“ 5
Jon Steinberg โ€“ 5
Bill Welt โ€“ 5
Jack Todd โ€“ 5
Aaron Murray โ€“ 5
Chris Childers โ€“ 5
Mark Knight โ€“ 5
The Herald Sun โ€“ 5
David Booth โ€“ 5
Tom Nichols โ€“ 5
Keith Hernandez โ€“ 5
Bill Oโ€™Reilly โ€“ 5
Brandel Chamblee โ€“ 5
Michael McCarthy โ€“ 5
Mike โ€œThe Reputation Doctorยฎโ€ Paul โ€“ 5
Dennis Dodd โ€“ 5
Rich Lowry โ€“ 5
Chris Reed โ€“ 5
San Diego Union-Tribune โ€“ 5
David Hookstead โ€“ 5
Tomm Looney โ€“ 5
Alex Shaw โ€“ 5
Rick Reilly โ€“ 5
Randall Mell โ€“ 5
Ian Oโ€™Connor โ€“ 5
Michael Bamberger โ€“ 5
Bob Bubka โ€“ 5
Cathal Kelly โ€“ 5
Pete Prisco โ€“ 5
Bill Simons โ€“ 5
Christine Flowers โ€“ 5
Jason Lieser โ€“ 5
John Steigerwald โ€“ 5
Josh Peter โ€“ 5
Alexi Lalas โ€“ 5
John Moody โ€“ 5
Marni Soupcoff โ€“ 5
Ryan Rishaug โ€“ 5
Kurtis Larson โ€“ 5
Rod Watson โ€“ 5
Dan Wolken โ€“ 5
Chuck Modiano โ€“ 5
Joel Klatt โ€“ 5
Steve Buffery โ€“ 5
Joe Morgan โ€“ 5
Howard Eskin โ€“ 5
Nancy Armour โ€“ 5
Richard Justice โ€“ 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins โ€“ 5
Jesse Watters โ€“ 5
John McGrath โ€“ 5
Mike Sielski โ€“ 5
Gordon Monson โ€“ 5
Scott Fowler โ€“ 5
Terry Frei โ€“ 5
David Jones โ€“ 5
Sabrina Parr โ€“ 5
Abbey Mastracco โ€“ 5
Terry Cushman โ€“ 5
Rick Bozich โ€“ 5
Michael Oโ€™Doherty โ€“ 5
Simon Briggs โ€“ 5
Dan Wetzel โ€“ 5
Mike Parry โ€“ 5
Bob Ryan โ€“ 5
Robert Reed โ€“ 5
Pete Dougherty โ€“ 5
Dan Le Batard โ€“ 5
Marcus Hayes โ€“ 5
Kyle Turley โ€“ 5
Mike Ditka โ€“ 5
Erril Laborde โ€“ 5
Lowell Cohn โ€“ 5
Rosie DiManno โ€“ 5
Peter Kingย โ€“ 4
Bruce Levine โ€“ 4
Malcolm Gladwell โ€“ 4
That’s Kappy โ€“ 4
Mitchell Nathanson โ€“ 4
The New York Daily News โ€“ 4
โ€œBigโ€ Jim Murray โ€“ 4
Jeff Diamond โ€“ 4
Marc Berman โ€“ 4
Evan Roberts โ€“ 4
Corbin Smith โ€“ 4
DJ Siddiqi โ€“ 4
The Express โ€“ 4
Mark Kiszla โ€“ 4
Greg Witter โ€“ 4
Myron Medcalf โ€“ 4
Bill Polian โ€“ 4
MJ Franklin โ€“ 4
Alex Reimer โ€“ 4
Joan Vennochi โ€“ 4
Matt Yglesias โ€“ 4
Bill Livingston โ€“ 4
Michael Irvin โ€“ 4
Shawn Windsor โ€“ 4
Brock Huard โ€“ 4
Byron Tau โ€“ 4
Maggie Gray โ€“ 4
Michael Powell โ€“ 4
Mark Spector โ€“ 4
Chad Forbes โ€“ 4
Gary Myers โ€“ 4
Mark Schlereth โ€“ 4
Andy Gray โ€“ 4
David Fleming โ€“ 4
Jeff Pearlman โ€“ 4
Tony Grossi โ€“ 4
FanSided โ€“ 4
Tony Kornheiser โ€“ 4
USA Today op-eds โ€“ 4
Nathan Ruiz โ€“ 4
Tony La Russaย  โ€“ 3
Jim Brady โ€“ 3
Bill Simmons โ€“ 3
Mark Teixeira โ€“ 3
Wally Hall โ€“ 3
Damien Woody โ€“ 3
Victor Cruz โ€“ 3
Andrew Walker โ€“ 3
Jim Kaat โ€“ 3
Jason Gay โ€“ 3
Steven J. Brams โ€“ 3
Aaron Isaksen โ€“ 3
Will Muschamp โ€“ 3
Buck Lanford โ€“ 3
John Feinstein โ€“ 3
Stan Fischler โ€“ 3
Sonnie Wooden โ€“ 3
Chris Jones โ€“ 3
Kelly Smith โ€“ 3
Reggie Miller โ€“ 3
Mark Madden โ€“ 3
Larry Brooks โ€“ 3
Dan Canova โ€“ 3
Steve Rosenbloom โ€“ 3
Stephen Jackson โ€“ 3
Mike Sando โ€“ 3
Walt Borla โ€“ 3
Nick Cafardo โ€“ 3
Ice Cube โ€“ 3
Justin Peters โ€“ 3
Elise Finch โ€“ 3
Kevin Skiver โ€“ 3
David Bahnsen โ€“ 3
Harold Reynolds โ€“ 3
Kevin Reynolds โ€“ 3
Mike Sheahan โ€“ 3
Bob Ford โ€“ 3
Steve Greenberg โ€“ 3
Matt Burke โ€“ 3
Malcolm Gladwell โ€“ 3
Mike Milbury โ€“ 3
Mac Engel โ€“ 3
Nick Kypreos โ€“ 3
Caron Butler โ€“ 3
Don Brennan โ€“ 3
Robert Tychkowski โ€“ 3
Mike Johnston โ€“ 3
Jeff Mans โ€“ 3
Joe Browne โ€“ 3
Mike Harrington โ€“ 3
Greg Mitchell โ€“ 3
The Hillย โ€“ 2
John Kindtย โ€“ 2
Bill Maddenย โ€“ 2
Tony Gonzalezย โ€“ 2
Mike Greenberg โ€“ 2
Grant Paulsen โ€“ 2
Jeff Ermann โ€“ 2
Ed Werder โ€“ 2
Ben Mulroney โ€“ 2
Ron Cook โ€“ 2
Brian Kenny โ€“ 2
Barrett Sallee โ€“ 2
Craig Calcaterra โ€“ 2
Max Kellerman โ€“ 2
Gareth Wheeler โ€“ 2
John Cornyn โ€“ 2
Tony Dungy โ€“ 2
Bruce Jenkins โ€“ 2
Chris Wesseling โ€“ 2
Seth Greenberg โ€“ 2
Doug Smith โ€“ 2
Newsweek โ€“ 2
Teddy Cutler โ€“ 2
Will Cain โ€“ 2
Bill Cowher โ€“ 2
Paul Finebaum โ€“ 2
Charley Casserly โ€“ 2
Amin Elhassan โ€“ 2
Jim Henneman โ€“ 2
Mitch Lawrence โ€“ 2
Nick Wright โ€“ 2
Domonique Foxworth โ€“ 2
Gary Parrish โ€“ 2
Michael Farber โ€“ 2
Andy Furman โ€“ 2
Donovan McNabb โ€“ 2
Seth Davis โ€“ 2
Jon Heyman โ€“ 2
Jason La Canfora โ€“ 2
Booger McFarland โ€“ 2
Joe Schad โ€“ 2
Cork Gaines โ€“ 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 is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.