Shannon Sharpe recently moved from Undisputed to First Take for weekly appearances during the NFL season. But it was revealed Wednesday that Sharpe did not choose to leave Fox Sports and was instead “pushed out.”
The news comes from First Take host and executive producer Stephen A. Smith, who explained the situation in an appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast.
“He was pushed out. He didn’t want to leave,” Smith said. “He was notified that ‘your services will no longer be needed.'”
Stephen A. Smith says Shannon Sharpe was “pushed out” of ‘Undisputed’ and didn’t want to leave ? pic.twitter.com/wzg8skgcXn
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 13, 2023
Sharpe cohosted Undisputed on FS1 for six years next to Skip Bayless. The two repeatedly clashed on air, and the tensions escalated prior to Sharpe’s departure. Bayless took a month hiatus after Sharpe left reportedly due to struggles finding a replacement before returning with a new panel format.
This week, after panelist Richard Sherman referenced Sharpe, clips produced by the network scrubbed Sharpe’s name out of the segment.
Sharpe has found a new home at ESPN while continuing to grow his “Club Shay Shay” podcast with The Volume.
In his appearance on Budden, Smith elaborated on his kingmaking role on First Take by explaining that “I’m at a point in time where if I don’t want you on First Take, you’re not coming on First Take.”
That’s not new, but it’s relevant. Smith banished Max Kellerman from the show in late 2021 due to stylistic differences. He decides who can and cannot come on the show now.
Sharpe is clearly a talent, but Bayless is one of Fox’s highest-paid talents and a debate show veteran. He is not Undisputed‘s executive producer (that’s Janelle Guiets) but holds significant power.
Smith surely just wanted to correct the record and make it clear Sharpe did not leave Fox Sports entirely of his own volition.