Stephen A. Smith, Terrell Owens and Max Kellerman on First Take in 2019

According to Stephen A. Smith, he never lost his cool during a debate on First Take, but Terrell Owens made him come close.

Smith joined the latest episode of Draymond Green’s podcast for The Volume, and the First Take host discussed the theatrics of his show and whether a debate ever gets too personal.

Jay Williams and I have gotten in heated discussions, but it’s never affected our relationship,” Smith said. “Will Cain, who used to be on ESPN and is now on Fox News, we got in a lot of heated discussions…but it never extended off-air because I understood he was different than me politically.”

The only time Smith remembers almost losing it on live television was when Terrell Owens joined him and Max Kellerman on First Take to discuss Colin Kaepernick in 2019.

“This is the one time I almost, almost lost it. When T.O. came on the air and said that Max seemed blacker than me,” Smith said on The Draymond Green Show. “Now, I addressed it on the air, but where it almost got dicey…It took everything in me not to go all in”

In 2019, Smith was critical of Kaepernick for skipping an organized workout where representatives from 25 NFL teams were going to be present and all 32 teams were set to receive video footage from the event. Kaepernick has not received a serious NFL contract offer since taking a knee for social justice during the national anthem in 2016. But after skipping that 2019 workout, Smith questioned his motives.

Responding to Smith’s criticism, Owens went on First Take and questioned his blackness. “Max almost seems blacker than you,” Owens told Smith.

“Let’s be very, very clear, I’m sorry if it offends anybody or anything like that, when it comes to what I do for a living, which is television and debate and stuff like that, I ain’t gonna lie, I think I’m the best on the planet,” Smith told Green. “When [T.O.] walked into that lion’s den, I had to remember my humanity…there are things I could have brought up, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But that was the closest I had ever come to getting medieval. There was a different element that was about to come out of me, but I stopped myself.”

Smith immediately addressed Owens’ comment, informing the former NFL wide receiver that he “crossed a line,” with his disrespect, but the ESPN host refrained from engaging in a back-and-forth of personal attacks.

If one person is going to attack another on live TV, the person being confronted shouldn’t have to wait until the camera goes off for their rebuttal. There are certainly times when debates get personal during sports and news shows, but for TV purposes, it’s better if the host can keep the discussion tempered enough to remain on camera, as Smith did during his infamous segment with Owens.

[The Draymond Green Show]

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