Keyshawn Johnson speaks to Brandon Contes on the Awful Announcing Podcast. Keyshawn Johnson speaks to Brandon Contes on the Awful Announcing Podcast.

Keyshawn Johnson has immense respect for Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless’ football opinions, despite neither of them playing professionally.

Johnson admitted to host Brandon Contes on the latest episode of the Awful Announcing podcast that there’s “certainly a different level of knowledge.” Still, the difference is that the two understand that.

“They’re not trying to put themselves in my shoes,” said Johnson, who played wide receiver in the league for the Jets, Buccaneers, Cowboys and Panthers (1996-2006). “They’re having an opinion based on what they see. So, that’s the great thing about working with people like that. When you work with people that think they know more than you at what you did, that’s a problem.

“That’s a problem. And Skip, nor Stephen A. approaches it that way — trying to tell you about your job and your business. Yeah, Skip may say, ‘Well, Dak (Prescott) did this. Dak did that. OK, but here’s why that happened. Oh, OK, I see; now I get it.’ That’s a conversation. And that conversation is lovely because he’s not trying to tell you about your job. That’s like me trying to tell him about how to write a book, even though I got a couple of New York Times bestsellers myself, you know what I’m saying?

“I ain’t trying to sit up there and act like I’m a journalist. I’m not gonna do that because his line of work and his career is different than mine. But he doesn’t approach it. So, yes, I respect the fact that both of those men know sports. They’re rabid sports fans, so to speak, of teams, and they know sports.”

Johnson said some of his friends have never played, while others appear to struggle with walking and chewing gum at the same time, for lack of a better phrase.

“But we can have conversations about games and sports, and I can respect that, even though they didn’t play it,” he said. “I have never subscribed, nor have ever been a person that said, ‘Well, you ain’t play, so how would you know?’ I don’t even deal with people that treat people like that. It’s like, ‘Well, you didn’t play, so you don’t know.’ It’s like, well, clearly, he didn’t play. So, I don’t need to tell him he didn’t play. Clearly, he didn’t play.

“So, to take that lowball approach, that’s low-hanging fruit. What type of individual wants low-hanging fruit to do that to somebody? No, I don’t; I respect them at the highest level when it comes to sports because even Stephen A. tells me my Lakers ain’t gonna do nothing, or Skip say the Lakers and LeBron James.”

“…Now, we can have a conversation about LeBron and Michael Jordan. And now, I can bring my facts on why Kobe (Bryant) is this, or Shaq was that, or (Jayson) Tatum is this, or (Devin) Booker is that. We can have that conversation because neither one of us played professional basketball.”

Since Johnson has been on Undisputed, he flat-out said that Bayless has not “won” any conversations that he’s had with the 11-year NFL veteran.

“He gonna lose every single time,” said Johnson. “He’s gonna lose every single time — every single time. I know when he’s losing, too, because then he wants to rush to commercial break.”

Ultimately, Johnson’s respect for Smith and Bayless hinges on their shared passion for sports and their willingness to engage in respectful debate, even when opinions differ. This dynamic showcases the value of diverse perspectives in sports commentary. Knowledge and experience from playing the game can coexist with informed opinions from fans.

The full episode of The Awful Announcing Podcast with Keyshawn Johnson will be released Friday morning. Subscribe to the show on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and wherever you get your podcasts. For more content, subscribe to AA’s YouTube page.

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.