The social media explosion set the hot take industry ablaze. Sports media figures who were once limited to a column or TV slot now offer opinions, round the clock. With infinite space to fill, it’s no surprise that many of these takes soon prove worthless. Since 2015, Fred Segal has been sharing the most embarrassing of these opinions on his social media brand Freezing Cold Takes and this book collects some of the best – including plenty from before the age of social media.
Among the best are a claim that the “Chiefs made the dumbest move of the draft” in picking Patrick Mahomes, and another arguing that Steve Bono was a better QB for the 49ers than Steve Young. These were somewhat isolated views but Segal highlights a few instances where plenty of pundits joined the wrong bandwagon.
For example, in the lead-up to the 1998 NFL Draft there was little consensus about whether the Colts should use their number one pick on Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning. However, the vastly different career paths for the two men soon made Team Leaf look silly. Likewise, many observers thought the Patriots’ decision to hire Bill Belichick as their head coach was misguided. Again, the scale of the error makes those takes worth revisiting.
For those stories, and many others, Segal sets the opinions in context and then relates how the predictions played out. As Segal points out, some takes were reasonable given the context, while others were so wild that they were scarcely taken seriously, even at the time.
The desperate rush to produce content is unceasing, so we can only expect more hot takes. But at least we’ll be able to smirk about the worst ones afterwards, thanks to Freezing Cold Takes.
Fred Segal is a former attorney, based in Florida. He has been running Freezing Cold Takes since 2015.
My expectation was that Freezing Cold Takes would be a ‘stocking filler’ type of book – the kind that’s basically a novelty to be skimmed for a few laughs and then discarded. But it’s much better than that. By putting the bad takes in context, rather than simply listing them, Segal finds a new and enjoyable entry point to some of the NFL’s best stories. Each one gets chapter of 10 or so pages, which is plenty of space to dig into the characters involved and explain how things panned out. Starting and ending with chapters about Belichick gives things a nice symmetry too.
There are a few errors that good editing should have picked up. Take this sentence about Miami Dolphins QB Scott Mitchell replacing an injured Dan Marino: “No one had thrown for two touchdowns in a single game for Miami since Don Strock accomplished the feat in 1983.” Presumably it should say “No one, other than Dan Marino…” Most egregiously, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport appears in the index under P, as Papoport, Ian. He does not appear under R.
Still, a few quibbles aside, this is a fun read that keeps you engaged even if you’ve read these stories before.
Shane Richmond, Pigskin Books
“There are fourteen Freezing Cold Takes in the book but I particularly liked the chapter on Bill Belichick’s hiring by the Patriots and the extraordinarily negative reaction from pundits. It’s hard to imagine a worse prediction in hindsight yet the logic at the time of doubting him is understandable. But for the stubborn determination of the Kraft family to hire him, the entire modern history of the NFL looks very different.”
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Note: A copy of the book was provided by the publisher in return for my honest review.