Michael Irvin’s future with NFL Network and ESPN remains in doubt after he was accused of sexual misconduct earlier this year. But Stephen A. Smith wants him back on First Take.
Last week, Smith opened his recruitment of Shannon Sharpe to First Take after learning the Pro Football Hall of Famer reached a buyout agreement with Fox Sports. Sharpe is expected to officially divorce FS1 and Skip Bayless after the NBA Finals. But this week, Smith clarified his invite to Sharpe, noting that it does not necessarily mean First Take is done with Irvin in the wake of the accusations against him.
“We know how I feel about The Playmaker, Michael Irvin,” the First Take host said on an episode of his Audacy/Cadence 13 podcast, The Stephen A. Smith Show. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with him. I don’t know what his situation is. I haven’t spoken to him in a while.”
“There’s not much on this planet earth I would not do for Michael Irvin. That’s my brother. I love him to death and I think he makes great television and I would never ever, ever sit up there and tell anybody that I want anybody more than I want Michael Irvin. It’s just that things that are going on are out of my control. Whether it’s the NFL, it’s the NFL Network, it’s ESPN, I don’t know! And I don’t have any control over that, that’s beyond my pay grade.”
In February, NFL Network suspended Irvin following an alleged inappropriate encounter with a female employee at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix during Super Bowl week. Irvin has maintained his innocence and held a press conference to release security footage of the incident. In early March, Irvin sued Marriott for $100 million because of the hotel employee’s allegations that were brought against him.
Court documents filed by Marriott alleged a “visibly intoxicated” Michael Irvin touched the accuser’s arm without her consent and made inappropriate comments to her. The security video released by Irvin, however, does not contain audio, making it difficult to fully refute or confirm the allegations.
After he was suspended by NFL Network in February, Irvin also did not make his previously scheduled First Take appearance in Phoenix for the Super Bowl. Irvin remained suspended by NFL Network during the NFL Draft in April. Shortly after learning he was being removed from NFL Network’s Super Bowl coverage, Irvin called into the Shan & RJ morning show on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas and admitted he didn’t remember the encounter with his accuser “because I had a few drinks.”
Irvin has been a regular contributor on First Take during the NFL season since 2021. Smith did not discount or even really address the allegations against Irvin, only making it clear that it will be up to ESPN to determine The Playmaker’s future at the network. And if ESPN deems Irvin clear to work at the Disney-owned sports network, Smith wants him back on First Take.