Stephen A. Smith embraces debate on First Take, seeking people to clash with, and Tim Tebow wasn’t one of those people.
Last week, JJ Redick clashed with Smith on First Take, slighting ESPN’s foremost personality for never playing basketball professionally. After the clip went viral, Smith addressed the segment on his Know Mercy podcast, claiming he doesn’t care about riling Redick and other debate partners on First Take. Smith did, however, feel differently about debating Tebow.
“JJ Redick is not the only person that I’ve tangled with on First Take,” Smith said on Know Mercy. “I’ve tangled with Ryan Clark, I’ve tangled with Marcus Spears, I’ve tangled with Dan Orlovsky. About the only person I didn’t tangle with was Tim Tebow, because he’s my friend and he’s a very nice guy. And damnit when I get on him too much, I almost feel like I’m destined for hell, cause he’s such a wonderful, wonderful human being and I almost feel like I deserve to be crucified for insulting him.”
When Smith decided Max Kellerman’s time ran out as a worthy opponent on First Take, he built a show that would welcome a rotating cast of analysts and former athletes to challenge his unrivaled sports opinions. Initially, the cast was built around Tebow, Michael Irvin, Mina Kimes and Kendrick Perkins. Chris Russo, Dan Orlovsky, JJ Redick and Ryan Clark have since been added to the rotation, but Tebow was noticeably absent from First Take last year during football season.
Smith didn’t state he bumped Tebow from First Take, the decision to forego his Friday appearances last season may have been mutual. Regardless of who implemented the programming change, it was a good one. If Tebow was a draw during his time on First Take, it was on name only, because his weekly appearances were lackluster. Even after Urban Meyer was fired by the Jacksonville Jaguars, when viewers might be clamoring for Tebow’s Friday appearance, he was curiously absent from the show. Obviously, Smith was being facetious by claiming, “I almost feel like I deserve to be crucified for insulting him,” but Tebow wasn’t a fit on the debate show, despite his immense popularity.