Chris Russo on First Take

Stephen A. Smith made the mistake of spurning Joe Namath on First Take. And ESPN’s foremost voice on sports history won’t stand for it.

Monday morning, Smith boldly claimed Aaron Rodgers would usurp Namath on the pantheon of New York Jets greats if he can lead the team to their second Super Bowl victory in franchise history. Even as a hypothetical discussion, this is silly considering the level of imagination it takes to assume the Jets will be imminent Super Bowl champions. Still, the possibility of ranking Rodgers’ Jets career over Namath’s was a take Russo couldn’t ignore.

“I can’t believe that I’m having my bagel and a banana and I’m putting on First Take yesterday and I got the host sitting here comparing Aaron Rodgers to Joe Willie Namath,” Russo said during his Tuesday appearance on the show. “I know prior to 1996, maybe a little shaky historically,” Russo noted of Smith, “But this is absurd.”

When Smith made the declaration, it received immediate pushback from Molly Qerim and Dan Orlovsky, both of whom couldn’t wait for Russo to watch the segment. Maybe it should be telling that even Orlovsky, who didn’t rank Joe Montana among his list of all-time great quarterbacks, thought it was bonkers to consider Rodgers usurping Namath’s standing with the Jets.

“He’s an original New York freakin Jet!” Russo ranted. “Aaron Rodgers, the carpetbagger, who’s all of a sudden at the Tonys, Taylor Swift, Ranger hockey. What do they do in Green Bay? He must have been bored stiff because he’s doing everything here. But now Rodgers…we’re gonna compare him as a Jets fan to Joe Namath?”

“I’ve said dumb things,” Russo admitted. “That’s as dumb a comment as I’ve ever heard in my life. Comparing him to Joe Willie Namath if you are a Jets fan! Worst take, I couldn’t believe it.”

Obviously, Rodgers, who hasn’t yet thrown a pass for the Jets, doesn’t outrank Namath in New York sports history yet. But if we’re playing the hypothetical game anyway, there has to be a point where Russo would agree Smith’s comment is no longer dumb.

If we’re going to hypothetically assume Rodgers wins one Super Bowl, why stop there? Why not assume Rodgers wins two Super Bowls with the Jets, or even three? At some point, with enough Super Bowls under his championship belt, even Russo and his appreciation for history would have to admit Rodgers should replace Namath as the greatest Jet of all time. But that time isn’t yet.

[First Take]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to