Hackett: For your consideration, the dumbest sports takes of 2018

Jim Hackett
December 27, 2018 - 10:19 am

USA Today Sports


Every year, a handful of takes make me pull the remaining hairs from my head or boil my blood enough to motivate "Jim in the car" to place a call to the station. They're too numerous to count, but that's what makes sports radio habit-forming, if not addictive, and yes my name is Jim and I'm an addict. With that said, whether it was on Twitter, TV, or over the airwaves, below are some of the takes from 2018 that drove me craziest.

One trend you will clearly recognize on my annoyance-meter is myopic thinking from loud, dogmatic voices too often undeserving of their platform. Look no further than anyone who questioned Bill Belichick for pulling Tom Brady out of Sunday's tilt with Buffalo with over six minutes remaining and an 18-point lead. Perish the thought! People are so stupid. Yes it's true that Belichick rarely pulls Brady early, if at all, when conventional thought says he should. Frankly, I think he throws caution to the wind too often, but if folks in the media can't connect the dots in this specific instance, then they don't deserve to work in the business.

With Week 17 actually having real meaning for the first time in many years, Brady will quite obviously be starting on Sunday and will be playing until the game is well in hand, just like last Sunday in a must-win game. This is a rarity for Week 17 in recent memory. Not this year though, so please tell me when else was Belichick going to get Brady and his rumored balky knee off the field and back-up Brian Hoyer some valuable snaps? The answer? Week 16 with about six minutes left. It made perfect sense and media types who can't solve that equation should be ignored.

This next one actually got me to pick up the phone last weekend, but time expired on the show before I could get on. Regrettable, because I really wanted to hash this one out on-air with the host first -- WEEI's own Marc James. I've never met Marc, and he seems a nice enough guy, but his empty-headed stance on Brad Stevens has me grinding my teeth and he's dug in more than once on this. The idea that Brad Stevens "hasn't proven anything yet," as James has said more than once, is absolutely absurd. Is his team underperforming so far this season? Yes. Has Stevens proven he can mesh this star-studded roster together for the ultimate prize yet? No he hasn't. However, to say that "he hasn't proven anything yet" is just narrow-minded gibberish.

Stevens has inspired this team to fight above its weight class since the day he arrived. From the early teams rostered with eight to ten small forwards and shooting guards like then-rookie Marcus Smart, to the two undermanned teams he led to the Eastern Conference Championship two years in a row, Stevens has proven his mettle as a coach in Boston time and again. Stevens has also consistently made world class pros play like spirited mid-major college students during March Madness. Failure to recognize these coaching merits is mindbogglingly shortsighted to me. This guy can coach and he's more than proved it. Period.

Put me on record: he'll figure out how to win with an All-Star roster, too. Marc James may disagree or not be sold, and that's fine and understandable, but to say he remains unproven as a coach is incomplete, lacks depth and is wildly inaccurate.

Now to one of my favorites, that of Sony Michel. After Michel's first NFL appearance, a pedestrian and uninspiring 10-carry, 34-yard performance led one of our friends across the street to declare that "he sucks" just one day after his debut. Now in fairness, Michel did suck that day, but to declare that a first-round rookie, coming off a summer filled with injury, outright sucks after his first NFL action is just plain dumb. Now 847 yards and six touchdowns later, the Patriots will be relying on Michel and their entire running game to make any noise this postseason. A far cry from being someone "who sucked" just over three months ago.

Sticking with the Patriots, the local media never sounded less informed than on the day that Cordarrelle Patterson arrived in New England last March. Given their roster construct on offense featuring a lack of depth at wide receiver and the absence of explosive players, Patterson was a classic Belichick acquisition -- a multi-talented athlete, with yet to be fully realized ability available at a value. The Patterson acquisition represented everything defining the Belichick era -- positional versatility, depth, special teams prowess and yes, value. Yet, most media members couldn't get their collective arms around it. I would often read or hear Patterson labeled as solely a special teams guy or a gadget guy, and these incomplete reactions feed perfectly into what I'm trying to say.

Too many media types don't take the time or have the insight to see the full picture. As I wrote about Belichick and Alex Cora in this space a couple of months ago, when most personnel types look at a player's weaknesses, Belichick seeks out his strengths and how he may fit into their schemes.

This move was vintage Patriots and very few saw the full scope of it, which is telling because all anyone needed to do to see why the Patterson move made sense was a little research. YouTube highlights from Patterson's time in Oakland, Minnesota and back in college at Tennessee are easily found and showcase his skill. Point is, nobody had to look too hard to get it right before sounding off. Now after watching Patterson amass 475 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns (excluding his work on special teams), people can hopefully grasp the concept.

Perhaps if more people in the media took a breath and hit the internet for research before they sounded off, tweeted or wrote, they wouldn't sound so stupid, but then I guess I'd have nothing to write about this week and I'd have more hair on my head. Paging Dr. Leonard . . .