Last week, Shannon Sharpe didn’t follow suit. After Skip Bayless brought just criticism on himself for a poorly timed tweet in the wake of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football, Sharpe was nowhere to be seen the next morning on FS1’s Undisputed.
With Hamlin’s status unknown at the time, Bayless insensitively wondered how the NFL could suspend a game that had playoff implications. Sharpe aligned with nearly all of America by disagreeing with the tweet from Bayless, which influenced his decision to skip Undisputed the next morning.
Stephen A. Smith joined the latest episode of Draymond Green’s podcast for The Volume, and the First Take host broke down the recent discourse between Sharpe and Bayless that led to the former’s absence.
“I can only imagine the kind of position that he found himself in in light of Hamlin’s injury,” Smith admitted of Sharpe’s absence. Still, Smith believes Sharpe had a responsibility to be on Undisputed the morning after Hamlin’s injury, regardless of Skip’s tweet.
“That’s your chair. You don’t give it up for nobody,” Smith said of Sharpe. “That’s yours. I don’t give a damn if you were in the chair and had nothing to say and you just wanted Skip to talk. You don’t miss sitting in that chair. Because there’s an audience out there that expected to see you. But I understood him, like every single NFL player present and former that I’ve spoken to, heart was in the right place, going through a lot.”
Stephen A. recalled Kenny Smith walking off the set of Inside the NBA to support the players protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Aug. 2020. The First Take host said he later called Smith and questioned his decision to walk off set, telling him the same thing he would tell Sharpe. “That chair matters, we need to see you.”
“When some real stuff hits, you turn on First Take, you expect to see Stephen A. And Stephen A. is going to show up,” Smith continued on The Draymond Green Show. “I’m gonna show up. And that’s what I would encourage Shannon, Kenny Smith, Shaq, Barkley, or anybody else. We fought for centuries to have our voice. You got it. You don’t give it up. That’s my point.”
When Sharpe returned to Undisputed last Wednesday, he promptly asked Bayless to remove the controversial tweet about Hamlin. Bayless declined and doubled down on his original message, sparking one of the most shocking moments in FS1 history as he raged over Sharpe’s decision to mention the tweet on live TV.
Fireworks to start Undisputed over Skip’s tweet pic.twitter.com/CnMBvgUPP3
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 4, 2023
In June 2021, Stephen A. made a similar statement to Sharpe and Kenny Smith when he stormed off First Take’s set. Stephen A. slammed the Boston Celtics for promoting Brad Stevens to team president following a disappointing season as head coach, claiming Black coaches wouldn’t receive the same fate. Smith, however, returned to First Take following a commercial break.