Following a full week of promos advertising Stephen A. Smith’s return to ESPN from vacation, First Take launched his heralded comeback with an episode shot on a boat. From the start, this didn’t seem like a great idea.
Smith, Michael Irvin and Molly Qerim were not sitting in front of a green screen, they were legitimately sailing around Manhattan on the Hudson River. But as Smith and Irvin yelled about sports, ESPN battled camera issues and sea sickness in an attempt to ensure the comeback episode lived up to the hype.
It only took me a couple minutes of watching the show from home to start feeling seasick as the horizon bobbed up and down behind Screaming A. And apparently, I wasn’t alone, as Qerim admitted being on the boat wasn’t any easier.
Molly is getting a little seasick. Yikes, been there before pic.twitter.com/MCx3rmmOWI
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) August 15, 2022
About 20 minutes into the show, Qerim attempted to interrupt Smith and Irvin mid-segment. “Hold on, is anybody else getting a little rocky right now?” Qerim asked with a nervous chuckle. “A little seasick.”
Smith and Irvin continued to debate Lamar Jackson’s contract status as if they didn’t even hear Qerim’s concern. Qerim, meanwhile, looked to be flying through all the mental tricks one attempts when trying to keep themselves from catching a case of the spins.
As Qerim battled seasickness, ESPN cameras were struggling to go more than two minutes without turning green or blurry and it was clear a break may have been needed to reassess how necessary it was to celebrate Smith’s return on a boat for the full show.
At 10:46, Qerim sent the show back to the mainland where Christine Williamson, Keyshawn Johnson and Harry Douglas were in ESPN’s Southstreet Seaport Studios. The in-studio trio spoke for about three minutes before ESPN embarked on a more than 11-minute commercial break.
Finally, shortly after 11am, First Take returned to Smith, Qerim and Irvin on the boat to continue the show. Credit their persistence, I thought for sure the more than 15-minute break from the boat crew meant they were desperately trying to get Smith, Irvin, and especially Qerim back on steady land. But maybe some Dramamine and electrolytes did the trick.