Wrapping up the hot takes.

Back in September 2016, we launched a This Week In Hot Takes feature, recapping the five hottest sports takes (or the hottest non-sports takes from sports media figures) of the week. We’ve since done that most weeks, but we’ve now decided to wrap it up; we’ll still cover outrageous takes when they happen, but the weekly feature’s time has come and gone. To send it off in style, here are our picks for the five hottest takes we’ve covered, plus the final leaderboard and some thoughts on those at the top of it and beyond.

5. Phil Mushnick wonders why Snoop Dogg can say the n-word and white people can’t: New York Post curmudgeon Mushnick has become a regular presence in this column for a number of dumb takes, from criticism of celebrations to games that run past his bedtime  to comparing mascot changes to Nazi propaganda to calling Devin Bush “like a crazed, escaped beast” to saying Antonio Brown performed “a vulgar groin-thrusting TD dance that mimed copulation” (Brown was twerking). But maybe the biggest running theme with Mushnick has been his anger about rappers who use explicit lyrics, and the n-word in particular.

That’s something that predates This Week In Hot Takes. In 2012, Mushnick wrote “As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots…why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment? Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes.” Then, in a response to criticism, he wrote “Jay-Z, on the other hand…..Is he the only NBA owner allowed to call black men N—ers? Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture and I’M the racist? Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about.”

And Mushnick’s carried on blasting rappers since then, with general lines like “unspeakably and unprintably vulgar rappers who promote and cash in big on every heart-breaking, blood-spilling backwards stereotype of black America — especially rappers who have helped resuscitate the N-word while boasting of their sexual degradation of women as hit-the-road whores, bitches and worsethrough specific insults on 50 Cent (“a vulgar, gay-bashing, women-trashing, assault weapon-cherishing, N-word-spouting gangsta rapper”) through Chance The Rapper (“no-upside, can’t-expect-better-from-us, women-denigrating, blood-on-the-breeze rap…standard dehumanizing gangsta rap — young black men are N****s“) through Lil’ Jon (“standardized rapper — vulgar, N-wording, women-denigrating) through “low-life rapper” Lil’ Wayne (“vulgar, N-worded, women-denigrating lyrics and his extensive criminal record“) through “racial-slur rapper” Kendrick Lamar (“a rapper who has grown fabulously wealthy through lyrics that consistently refer to black men as ‘N—-s‘”). But the most amazing Mushnick take on music and the n-word came this March, where he just came right out and said he doesn’t get why Snoop Dogg can use the N-word without massive backlash and white people can’t:

“How come, if a white Lakers season-ticket holder/celebrity posted a racist, vulgar, message about the Lakers — one laced with the N-word and the suggestion that the team depart via “slave ship” — he or she would rightly be Page 1 news, a national pariah and the Lakers would cancel his or her subscription, but when Snoop Dogg, at 47 a pornographer with a long arrest record, does such he’s indulged?

While we’re at it, how come Adam Silver allows NBA players, mostly college men, to refer to one another via highly public “social” media as “n—-s”? Or are they adhering to the good, proper context for such a term?”

“Phil Mushnick, Language Policeman” is coming this fall to TBS.

4. Jeremy Roenick attacks Marshawn Lynch with…a fake James Harrison quote: There have been plenty of criticisms of NFL players (and other athletes) who have declined to stand for the national anthem, but one in particular stands out. That would be from NHL on NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick, who in August 2017, went after then-Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch for choosing to sit during the anthem. Roenick tweeted “Marshawn you should have stayed retired” and then said the protests had nothing to do with race (“Has nothing to do with color. Stop w the color crap. It’s about respect! Period”), but then topped himself by using a fake quote from then-Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison. Amazingly, two years later, Roenick’s tweet with that fake quote is still up:

It’s great that a national network has decided someone with the brains to tweet a fake quote and keep it up for two years (despite a million people pointing out it’s fake) should be presented as a credible analyst. Doesn’t he have a gator to jump on or some hot chicken to eat or something?

3. Jason Whitlock weighs in on “Cyber Humans vs humans, the culture war no one is talking about”: FS1’s Whitlock prompted a January 2017 change to this column, where we elected him to the Hall of Fame and made him no longer eligible for the weekly roundup, because the daily insanity he was delivering on Twitter and Speak For Yourself was just overshadowing everyone else. (At that point, he had 54 hot take points to 29 for anyone else.) And he’s continued to do that. But this is a good time to look back at one of his zaniest takes, the infamous “Cyber Humans” one:


“Cyber Humans” (or Cybermen) remain a Dr. Who villain, not an actual thing. People who talk about things online are still human.

2. Michael Felger says Roy Halladay “got what he deserved” by dying in plane crash: Moving past the insane takes to the incredibly insulting and ill-thought-out takes, here’s Boston radio host Michael Felger of 98.5 The Sports Hub saying in November 2017 after the news of Roy Halladay’s death in a plane crash that Halladay “got what he deserved.” Complete with plane crash noises:

“That guy’s like the bad guy to me. You’ve got a family! And you’re going to screw around in a little toy plane?”

…“You’re a multimillionaire with a loving family, and to you, you have to go get that thing where you can divebomb from 100 feet to five above the water with your single-engine plane with your hand out the window. ‘Wheee! Wheee! Yeah, man, look at the G-force on this! I’m Maverick! Pew pew pew! Yeah, man, look at this, this is so cool.’ And you die! Splat!”

“He’s not a militarily-trained pilot, he’s not a professionally-trained pilot, he’s a Joe Q. Citizen who buys a plane that folds up and you can put in your garage and that’s amphibious, ‘Wheee! Oh look, I just landed on the water, everybody! I’m going to tweet it!’ Splat. You’re dead. With two kids. Moron.”

…“If I die helicopter skiing, you have the right to do the exact same thing I’m doing to Roy Halladay. He got what he deserved.”

Felger apologized the next day, but received no punishment from his radio station. He did temporarily have his simulcast removed from NBC Sports Boston, but only for a week.

1. John Moody says the USOC wants a “Darker. Gayer. Different.” motto: Our pick for the hottest take we’ve covered comes from Fox News executive vice president and executive editor John Moody in February 2018. Moody read a Washington Post story about the U.S. Olympic Committee’s efforts to find more diverse potential Winter Olympic athletes (through programs to help those from backgrounds with economic or time challenges get involved with or stick with winter sports, or to target top athletes in some other sports to potentially switch to winter sports that might be a good fit for them, thus providing more competitors in those sports for U.S. Olympic berths and raising the medal chances of the U.S. team overall), and completely misinterpreted it as the USOC valuing “quotas” over winning (which they couldn’t even do, as they don’t select the Olympic team; the individual sport federations do, and in most cases, that’s based on results). Moody then wrote a column on that that was so bad Fox News backed away from it, pulling it down two days later, and Moody “retired” the next month. Here’s the part of his column preserved in our piece:

Unless it’s changed overnight, the motto of the Olympics, since 1894, has been “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” It appears the U.S. Olympic Committee would like to change that to “Darker, Gayer, Different.” If your goal is to win medals, that won’t work.

A USOC official was quoted this week expressing pride (what else?) about taking the most diverse U.S. squad ever to the Winter Olympics. That was followed by a, frankly, embarrassing laundry list of how many African-Americans, Asians and openly gay athletes are on this year’s U.S. team. No sport that we are aware of awards points – or medals – for skin color or sexual orientation.

For the current USOC, a dream team should look more like the general population. So, while uncomfortable, the question probably needs to be asked: were our Olympians selected because they’re the best at what they do, or because they’re the best publicity for our current obsession with having one each from Column A, B and C?

…Insisting that sports bow to political correctness by assigning teams quotas for race, religion or sexuality is like saying that professional basketball goals will be worth four points if achieved by a minority in that sport – white guys, for instance –  instead of the two or three points awarded to black players, who make up 81 percent of the NBA. Any plans to fix that disparity? Didn’t think so.

If someone is denied a slot on a team because of prejudice, that’s one thing. Complaining that every team isn’t a rainbow of political correctness defeats the purpose of sports, which is competition. At the Olympic level, not everyone is a winner. Not everyone gets a little plastic trophy to take home.

Sorry. “Faster, Higher, Stronger” still works better than “We win because we’re different.”

Congratulations to Moody on missing the point so badly that Fox News had to take down his piece. That was a hell of a way to end his stint there, and it holds up as the hottest take we’ve covered in this column.

Let’s wrap this up with some thoughts on the top five people in our This Week In Hot Takes standings, some thoughts on five notable people who weren’t at the top, and then the full standings table.

1. Jason Whitlock — Hall of Fame: Whitlock remains the king of takes, and he’s still up to that, most recently blasting LeBron James for having fun at his kid’s basketball game and getting called out by people at his own network and beyond. But what’s really amazing with Whitlock is the amount of insanity he puts out there that no one notices, given the limited viewership for Speak For Yourself. Trying to keep track of what he’s up to is just exhausting, and we don’t recommend it.

2. Stephen A. Smith — 252 and 3. Skip Bayless — 212: It’s interesting that Smith and Bayless, the former First Take co-hosts turned morning debate ratings competitors, wound up so high in the standings without posting any of the five worst takes or even coming particularly close to consideration there, but that speaks to what they do. Both Smith and Bayless regularly find stupid takes to drop, and they each topped a number of weeks, but they both have a good sense for saying outrageous things without crossing the line into things that could actually get them in much trouble. They’ll happily rant about weed, the Knicks, or Kevin Durant (Smith) or LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard (Bayless), but they’re not the ones who dive head-first into really controversial waters.

4. Phil Mushnick — 186: Mushnick far and away leads the non-TV division here, and we’ve explored his many terrible takes above. But what’s fascinating about him is he’s perhaps the most predictable name on this list; he has about six or seven things that he repeatedly rants about in dumb ways. To that end, we present The Phil Mushnick Column Generator.

[Complaint about rappers]

[Complaint about ESPN]

[Complaint about celebrations]

[Complaint about late start times]

[Complaint about WWE]

Follow this simple template, and you, too, can have a bizarrely long run of employment with The New York Post for your “old man yells at cloud” thoughts.

5. Colin Cowherd – 87: Cowherd is interesting amongst the TV personalities here in that he’s not always controversial (why he’s below the likes of Smith and Bayless), but he’s willing to really push the boundaries of takery when he is. Some of his memorable highlights include “The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world class academic abilities” and “If you still live in Cleveland at this point, you’re bringing unemployment on,” plus his rants against John Wall and Sean Taylor. If you need someone to make bad generalizations about a group or to repeatedly go after a specific athlete for no particularly good reason, Cowherd is your man.

And five not in the top five, but worth special mention:

Doug Gottlieb – 61: Cowherd Light, now with more nonsense.

Rob Parker – 59: Is this a real column, or a cornball column?

Don Cherry – 30: What happens if the old man yelling at clouds is Canadian?

Darren Rovell – 25: If you need anything to be converted to estimated advertising dollars, or if you need complaints about advertising moves, Darren is your man.

Ray Lewis – 25: This one in particular gives Ray the award for Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Lacking Self-Awareness.

Here are the final standings:

Hot Take Standings:

Jason Whitlock – Hall of Fame
Stephen A. Smith – 252
Skip Bayless – 212
Phil Mushnick – 186
Colin Cowherd – 87
Doug Gottlieb – 61
Rob Parker – 59
Shannon Sharpe – 38
Don Cherry – 30
Albert Breer – 29
Mike Francesa – 27
Dan Shaughnessy – 26
Darren Rovell – 25
Ray Lewis – 25
Charles Barkley – 24
Danny Kanell – 24
Andy Benoit – 20
Britt McHenry – 20
JT The Brick – 20
Dan Dakich – 18
Chris Broussard – 17
Michael DeCourcy – 16
Jason McIntyre – 16
Tony Massarotti – 15
Ben Maller – 15
Bill Plaschke – 14
Keith Olbermann – 13
Jason Smith – 13
Kirk Herbstreit – 13
Mike Felger – 13
The Sporting News – 13
Rick Morrissey – 13
Michael Wilbon – 12
Michael Rapaport – 11
John Middlekauff – 11
Steve Simmons – 10
Christine Flowers – 10
Jeff Schultz – 10
Greg Gabriel – 10
Rob Rossi – 10
Bill James – 10
Joe Simpson – 10
Bob Brookover – 10
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Max Kellerman – 9
Graham Couch – 9
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo – 9
Ross Tucker – 9
Ryen Russillo – 9
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Jack Todd – 8
Bob Ryan – 8
Bob Ford – 8
John Feinstein – 8
Frank Isola – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Will Cain – 7
Howard Eskin – 7
Trent Dilfer – 7
Damien Cox – 7
Mike Bianchi – 7
Cris Carter – 7
Pat Forde – 7
Peter King – 6
Charley Casserly – 6
The Wall Street Journal – 6
Pat Leonard – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Merril Hoge – 5
Jonathan Allen – 5
Dean Blevins – 5
Tony Rizzo – 5
Paul Sullivan – 5
Dan Wolken – 5
Dan Clark  – 5
Paul Daugherty  – 5
Michael Kay – 5
Tom Jones – 5
Mark Readings – 5
Neil Warnock – 5
Patrick Bet-David – 5
Jared Stillman – 5
Jen Rainwater – 5
Matt Walsh – 5
Jon Steinberg – 5
Bill Welt – 5
Aaron Murray – 5
Chris Childers – 5
Mark Knight – 5
The Herald Sun – 5
David Booth – 5
Tom Nichols – 5
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
The 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
Bill Simons – 5
Jason Lieser – 5
John Steigerwald – 5
Josh Peter – 5
Alexi Lalas – 5
John Moody – 5
Marni Soupcoff – 5
Ryan Rishaug – 5
Kurtis Larson – 5
Rod Watson – 5
Chuck Modiano – 5
Joel Klatt – 5
Steve Buffery – 5
Joe Morgan – 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
Terry Frei – 5
David Jones – 5
Sabrina Parr – 5
Abbey Mastracco – 5
Terry Cushman – 5
Rick Bozich – 5
Michael O’Doherty – 5
Simon Briggs – 5
Dan Wetzel – 5
Mike Parry – 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
Adam Schein – 4
Mike Florio – 4
Randal Grichuk – 4
Mike Schmidt – 4
Mike Bell – 4
Cody McDavis – 4
The New York Times – 4
Dan Crenshaw – 4
Mike Vaccaro – 4
Mike Klis – 4
Richard Keys – 4
Bruce Levine – 4
Malcolm Gladwell – 4
That’s Kappy – 4
Mitchell Nathanson – 4
The New York Daily News – 4
“Big” Jim Murray – 4
Jeff Diamond – 4
Marc Berman – 4
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
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
Tony Kornheiser – 4
USA Today – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Rob Stone – 3
Dean Blandino – 3
Gary Bettman – 3
Chris Torello – 3
Aaron Taylor – 3
Undisputed producers – 3
Pete Thamel – 3
John Kincade – 3
Brian Burke – 3
Doug Russell  – 3
Carl Steward  – 3
Jerry Coleman – 3
Jon Johnson  – 3
Trey Wingo – 3
Lance Zierlein – 3
Michael Salfino – 3
Tom Van Riper – 3
Andy Katz – 3
Tony La Russa  – 3
Jim Brady – 3
Bill Simmons – 3
Mark Teixeira – 3
Wally Hall – 3
Damien Woody – 3
Victor Cruz – 3
Andrew Walker – 3
Jim Kaat – 3
Jason Gay – 3
Steven J. Brams – 3
Aaron Isaksen – 3
Will Muschamp – 3
Buck Lanford – 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
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
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
Michael Schmidt – 2
Bob Nightengale – 2
Pierre McGuire – 2
The Palm Beach Post – 2
Karl Ravech – 2
Dari Nowkah – 2
Ella Dorsey – 2
The Hill – 2
John Kindt – 2
Bill Madden – 2
Tony Gonzalez – 2
Mike Greenberg – 2
Grant Paulsen – 2
Jeff Ermann – 2
Ed Werder – 2
Ben Mulroney – 2
Ron Cook – 2
Brian Kenny – 2
Barrett Sallee – 2
Craig Calcaterra – 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
Bill Cowher – 2
Paul Finebaum – 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

Thank you to everyone who read This Week In Hot Takes. Feedback is always welcome 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.