In a past life, I used to watch ESPN’s First Take religiously.
Every morning, over a bowl of the greatest cereal known to man, Golden Crisp—I’m more than willing to throw hands if you feel otherwise—I watched a rotating cast of ESPN contributors—and one cutthroat assassin in particular—go toe-to-toe with notorious blowhard Skip Bayless. But as the show leaned more and more into sensationalism throughout the years—shoutout to Jay Crawford and Cari Champion for escaping with their integrity intact—I woke up one morning and realized that all of the gratuitous yelling and outrageous disputes weren’t for me anymore. So I quit cold turkey somewhere around 2014 and I haven’t looked back since.
Fast forward to 2021, and the show has remained a cultural phenomenon in my absence. Stephen A. Smith, who’s anchored the show since 2012, has blossomed into one of the most powerful figures in broadcast television. And now, according to Complex, he’s flexing that mettle in order to have co-host Max Kellerman removed from the show:
According to a press release from ESPN, “Kellerman will host a new ESPN television series (more details to follow), after serving on ESPN’s popular First Take program alongside Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim Rose since July 2016. More information on the new Kellerman show and on First Take’s updated format will be announced soon. Kellerman will also continue to host his weekly boxing show, Max on Boxing on ESPN2.”
Kellerman will also join Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams for ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, JWill & Max. Zubin Mehenti, co-host of the show formerly known as Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin, has been replaced after missing considerable time over the past year due to health complications.
The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand speculates that the move was made in order to facilitate Smith’s eventual ascension into late-night TV. But in the interim, word on the street is that Kellerman could be replaced by another nigga with a penchant for howling at absurd decibels, Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin.
From Front Office Sports:
The deal to bring Irvin aboard as a guest commentator is not finalized said sources. It’s expected to be limited to “First Take.” The NFL Network analyst is not expected to appear on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” or other NFL-related programming. ESPN is eying NFL Mondays as a natural staging ground for Irvin vs. Smith on “First Take.”
Irvin, who previously worked at ESPN prior to his current gig at the NFL Network, will definitely make for some entertaining—if not loud—television. Other contributors to the show could include familiar faces like Marcus Spears, Keyshawn Johnson, and Jay Williams—who recently drew the ire of NBA superstar Kevin Durant for revisiting an encounter they may or may not have had in the past.
“It’s going to be Stephen A. versus the world,” an undisclosed source told Front Office Sports.
All I knew is when the latest incarnation of First Take debuts, it’s gonna be loud. Hell, they might need to move the show to UBN and rebrand it “Niggas Hollerin’”.