Last Friday, as the names of longtime ESPN employees hit the newswire as the next person to be laid off, few on-air hosts seemed safe. However, there’s a short list of ESPN signees who were surely above the cut line, including Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Stephen A. Smith.
“This ain’t the end. More is coming,” Smith said of the layoffs. “And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I could be next. Let me tell you all something. Don’t ever, ever, ever in your life as a Black person take anything for granted. I told you before, when white folks catch a cold, Black folks catch pneumonia…The one thing I could tell you about Stephen A, this ain’t 2009. I really didn’t see it coming. My eyes are always wide open now. I’m never comfortable. I never take anything for granted and I never assume that I’m safe.”
Smith also promoted a clip on his social media accounts in which he discussed specific ESPN employees who had been laid off and what he thought of them.
I will miss the colleagues of mine who were let go this week dearly pic.twitter.com/lNbuDjRG8s
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 4, 2023
Noticeably absent among the list of names he includes was former First Take co-host Max Kellerman, which caught the attention of a lot of aggregators out there. However, just because it wasn’t in the teaser clip, that doesn’t mean Smith didn’t have something nice to say about the guy he’s admitted he ran off the show.
“I’m even gonna miss Max Kellerman,” Smith said. “I know y’all thought I wouldn’t. I am not happy that he is gone. We all know what history we had. We all know what happened with he and I parting ways on ‘First Take.’ I don’t want the brother unemployed. I want him gainfully employed. I want him having a job and a career.
“And that brother knows his boxing inside and out, is smart as a whip, and has been around a long time. I wish him no ill will. And, matter of fact, although I sincerely doubt he ever will, if he ever called me needing my help, I would not hesitate to help him.”
As for the other former ESPN people laid off last week, Smith had plenty of praise to share.
He said he has a “lot of love” for Jalen Rose, who he called a “brilliant basketball mind.”
“Jeff Van Gundy’s another,” Smith said. “Outstanding, brilliant basketball analyst for ESPN for years. I could say I’m gonna miss him but I just can’t imagine he’s gonna be out of work for long. I’m sure I’ll see him on-air doing his thing. Jeff Van Gundy’s been a Hall of Fame analyst and commentator.”
“My brother, Keyshawn Johnson,” Smith added. “We’ve been friends for over 20 years. I’m sad to see him go. What he’s done for my life, just being a big brother and a friend to me, I love him to death.”
Smith also called David Pollack an “outstanding college football analyst” and gave shoutouts to Neil Everett, Ashley Brewer, and Todd McShay.