Forget embracing debate, ESPN is now outwardly embracing trolling. Here’s a screengrab of the ESPN.com homepage, about halfway down, from Monday afternoon:
This was noticed by Steve Matthes on Twitter at 2:40 p.m. Eastern Monday, and the video headline and placement on ESPN.com was still there after 5:30 p.m. Eastern, suggesting this wasn’t just a quickly-corrected mistake. It’s not an erroneous headline, either; trolling describes the video pretty well. Here are the key parts of Stephen A. Smith’s rant:
Smith: “The beauty of the Dallas Cowboys is that objectivity is completely unnecessary. [Randy Gregory] suspended for four games, we don’t know specifically what it is, but America, say it with me; ‘Stay off the weeeeeeeed!’ Once again! Let me tell you something right now, let me tell you something right now, about Randy Gregory…”
Skip Bayless: “I’ve never heard you say that. Where’d you come up with that?”
Smith: “I’m just trying to be hip for the brothers. I’m just trying to be hip. What do I continue to say? I try to tell you all the time, Skip Bayless, they’re an accident waiting to happen. Whatever can go wrong will. What day was the Super Bowl? It was February 7. What’s today’s date? Isn’t it the 22nd? That’s 15 days after the season’s over and already the Dallas Cowboys are in the news again for something that has nothing to do with winning football games, but everything to do with sullying their reputation, losing football games, being the accident waiting to happen, being the epitome of mediocrity every single time.
We try to say ‘Give the Dallas Cowboys a break,’ we get caught up. I remember I was at Radio Row, Super Bowl week, San Francisco, California, all this fun stuff, Emmitt Smith comes there, Michael Irvin comes there, ‘The Playmaker,’ ‘Stephen A! We’ll be back! Stephen A!’ Yeah, Michael Irvin with his thick goggles, ‘We’ll be back! Stephen A!’ Emmitt Smith, ‘What are you talking about? We were 12-4 last year!” There’s always something, but in the end, I try to tell them, Emmitt Smith ain’t there any more! As Rick Pitino say, ‘He ain’t coming through that door!’ Michael Irvin ain’t coming through that door! Troy Aikman ain’t coming through that door!”
Bayless: “Greg Hardy might.”
Smith: “Randy Gregory will! The list goes on and on! The Dallas Cowboys, once again making news for all the wrong reasons! Who’s going to get suspended next? I can’t tell you, but at some point in time, you’re going to get it, it’s going to knock you upside that thick skull of yours, they’re an accident waiting to happen, they’re mediocre, they will find a way to get in their own way.”
Yep, that is some Grade-A trolling (and in this recollection, Emmitt Smith thinks the Cowboys were 12-4 in 2015 rather than 4-12?). Smith’s far from alone in opining on the Cowboys’ apparent fondness for players with major off-field issues, but he certainly takes it farther than most in a chase for attention. (Also, that’s a problematic “Greg Hardy might” comment from Bayless, considering what we know about the domestic violence case against Hardy.) Trolling indeed. At least ESPN.com’s editors categorized it accurately?
H/T: Steve Matthes.