Stephen A. Smith running into ESPN studios

Stephen A. Smith only gets two hours every day to spew hot takes on First Take. And he forfeited the first 25 minutes of his Tuesday show to sit in traffic.

First Take notably began without Smith in the power chair, prompting show moderator Molly Qerim to inform the audience he was on his way and would explain what happened when he eventually arrives. Soon after, security camera footage showed the late talk show host desperately trying to run down the boardwalk outside ESPN Southstreet Seaport Studios. And by 10:25, Smith was back in his usual seat on First Take’s set, declaring “I’m done with New York.”

“I was parked, I mean, literally parked, on the West Side Highway,” Smith griped. “I got a crib 15 minutes from here. I left at 8:45, this is ridiculous!”

Keyshawn Johnson noted the NFL head coaches he used to play for wouldn’t accept any excuses, telling Smith, “You should have left at 7:30.”

“I ain’t leaving at no damn 7:30 for a 10 o’clock show when I live 15 minutes away,” Smith argued. “It ain’t happening!”

The traffic debacle seemed to be a final straw for Smith, who said he wants to live in a place with less road congestion an lower income taxes. “I’m looking for a state with no income taxes,” Smith ranted. “The taxes are too high in California and New York! Hell, I’ve been saying it for years.”

Smith’s current ESPN contract runs through 2025, so he’s going to have to deal with New York’s traffic and income taxes for at least a few more years.

“Hold on, I have the producers in my ear,” Qerim interrupted. “They want to know, we’re changing the topic. Worse clock management? Jeff Saturday or Stephen A. Smith?”

“Stephen A. Smith today,” Smith quickly answered, throwing his former ESPN colleague a lifeline after his abysmal clock management on Monday Night Football. “Jeff Saturday just showed up and lost. I’ll take the hit today.”

That was nice of Smith to hold himself accountable, but Saturday’s clock management was worse. As much as First Take had fun mocking Smith for missing the first segment of his own show on Tuesday citing “no excuses” for being late, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s a faulty alarm clock, unexpected traffic, car trouble, or a physical ailment, no one likes to be late, but it happens. Saturday, however, attempting to save his timeouts for next week’s game? That’s inexcusable.

[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