Stephen A. Smith and Michael Irvin on First Take in 2021

Max Kellerman’s empty seat on ESPN’s First Take isn’t even cold yet but reports of his replacement have already popped up. According to Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports, NFL analyst Michael Irvin could be the one to take his spot.

McCarthy says that there is no finalized deal to bring Irvin on full-time to take turns yelling across a table with Stephen A. Smith. However, he does cite multiple sources about ESPN’s interest in making it happen. Also, if and when Irvin was to come on board, that would become his main gig with the network and he would not be making a return to “Sunday NFL Countdown” or appearing on any other NFL-related programming.

Irvin appeared on ESPN’s Sunday Night Countdown between 2003 and 2007. Prior to that he briefly worked for Fox Sports but has appeared on NFL Network as an analyst for NFL GameDay Morning as well as other TV programming. He’s also appeared as a guest analyst on Showtime’s Inside the NFL.

Irvin has also had his fair share of controversy over the years. He has been arrested multiple times, been accused of sexual assault and harassment on multiple occasions, and has made a few controversial comments. He was fired in 2010 from an ESPN radio station at a time when one set of rape allegations emerged, though charges were not filed.

Irvin and Smith are no strangers to getting into it with one another, though to be fair, who hasn’t criticized Smith over his comments at this point. Specifically, they’ve gone toe-to-toe over the Dallas Cowboys, which Smith has criticized and for whom Irvin won three Super Bowls.

While Kellerman held down the seat across from Smith for a few years, it’s thought that Irvin could be one of a slew of rotating hosts based on seasonality, league focus, and other factors. McCarthy notes that there are other potential co-hosts for the program who could also be slotted in, including Marcus Spears, Keyshawn Johnson, and Jay Williams.

Is Irvin a good fit for First Take? We suppose that depends on how you feel about First Take. If you find it insufferable and inconsequential, then the arrival of Irvin probably won’t change that. If you enjoy the nature of the show, then someone like Irvin, who is more than happy to voice his opinions loudly, is going to fit in quite well.

[Front Office Sports]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to