More than five years after ESPN cut ties with Donovan McNabb, Stephen A. Smith is willing to go on the record to call it an unjust firing.
McNabb joined a recent episode of Smith’s Know Mercy podcast, which is presented by Audacy’s Cadence13 and has no affiliation with ESPN. During the interview, Smith said he believes McNabb should have a bigger television presence and asked the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback if he agrees.
“Absolutely,” McNabb answered. “I should’ve still been on TV, but that’s another issue.”
“That’s an issue, I ain’t gonna get too much into specifics,” Smith added. “But we all know what you were accused of and what have you, and as a result of that you were taken off television. I still don’t think it was fair. I’m saying it for the record.”
After joining ESPN in 2016, McNabb was suspended one year into his tenure when a former NFL Network wardrobe stylist accused him and several other employees of sexual harassment in a lawsuit. Following a monthlong investigation into the allegations, ESPN decided to permanently part ways with McNabb in early 2018.
McNabb began his broadcasting career at NFL Network in 2012, which is where the harassment allegedly occurred. According to the lawsuit, McNabb was accused of making sexual advances toward a female colleague by sending inappropriate text messages, including one where he asked if she was a “squirter.”
Producer Eric Weinberger and former NFL players Eric Davis, Heath Evans, Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp, and Ike Taylor were also named in the lawsuit. Some were still with NFL Network at the time, others, such as McNabb, had already moved on to other outlets. But each personality named in the sexual harassment lawsuit was eventually let go by their places of employment.
Smith stuck to his “ain’t gonna get too much into specifics” avowal and didn’t delve into why he felt it was unfair of ESPN to let McNabb go in 2018 following their investigation into sexual harassment allegations. And while Smith’s podcast has no affiliation with ESPN, it’s still surprising to see one of the network’s foremost personalities call out his place of employment for an unjust firing. It’s especially surprising to hear him go on the record in calling it an unfair firing considering the severity of those allegations.
McNabb went on to say that he would be interested in doing TV work again, citing his experience as a game analyst for Fox. McNabb resigned from Fox Sports in 2015 after he was arrested on DUI charges, his second in 18 months.