Stephen A. Smith and Chris Russo on First Take Photo credit: ESPN

Don’t accuse Chris “Mad Dog” Russo of being a company man; the First Take contributor seemingly has little desire to serve as a shill for ESPN’s parent company.

Stephen A. Smith was not in the studio Wednesday morning for Russo’s appearance on First Take, prompting Dog to go on a performative rant about feeling disrespected by his ESPN debate partner. After revealing that he works hard to get to ESPN’s South Street Seaport Studios in the morning for First Take, “shower, shave, shampoo,” Russo said there’s no excuse for Smith not to be there to greet him, certainly not General Hospital.

“Get your rear end – I don’t care how you do it – Nobody cares about General Hospital, Steve, and nobody watches it,” Russo said definitively as First Take host Molly Qerim could be heard laughing in the background. “Get your rear end in the house when I’m here.”

Smith, who has a recurring role on ABC’s General Hospital as “Brick,” is presumably in Los Angeles filming a soap opera episode, which is why Russo referenced it in his rant.

“Actually, first of all, General Hospital, multiple-time Emmy award winners. Big time soap opera,” Smith said as he attempted to clean up Russo’s mess quickly. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I get stopped everywhere in the country because of ‘Brick.’ Surveillance expert for the mob.”

There’s no doubt Smith gets stopped everywhere in the country because of his immense fame. But the idea that he’s ever been recognized as “Brick” from General Hospital before Stephen A. Smith from ESPN is laughable. We get what he was trying to do, though, talking up General Hospital after Russo mocked it. Indeed, Disney executives wouldn’t appreciate one of their employees trashing an ABC show like Russo did with General Hospital.

However, this wasn’t the first time that Russo ripped a Disney product since becoming a Disney employee. Earlier this year, Russo went on his radio show and ranted about Disney World, questioning why anyone would want to vacation there for “brainless entertainment.” Before that, Russo mocked the UFC, hilariously ignoring its partnership with ESPN. Unsurprisingly, the only First Take segment Russo sat out of Wednesday morning was when they interviewed Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

While General Hospital is undoubtedly helped by airing on network TV, ABC’s popular soap opera starring Brick regularly quadruples First Take’s average daily audience.

[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