Let me just say that I am a huge fan of ESPN’s First Take. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless simply because they speak their minds freely (sometimes too freely) and therefore I find myself saying “Yeah!” every time either one of them speaks about something I’m passionate about. It’s the Hannity and Colmes of sports (Smith being Hannity, and Bayless being Colmes), as it attempts to “embrace debate” by pinning a new school Smith with a more traditional Bayless.
Honestly, First Take probably inspires more water cooler debate than any Hannity and Colmes or Crossfire show a news network can put out. Personally I have a bias, or at least I more often agree with the animated and boisterous Smith though I never tune out Bayless’ voice of reason.
Wednesday’s show invited Bill Romanowski on the show to bring an opinion about starting Tim Tebow (that is the only time I will mention his name). Again, in Romanowski’s case I have an incredible amount of respect for him as a football player. Much like Dick “Night Train” Lane of old, and Ndamukong Suh of new, he was known as a dirty player. All three are misunderstood, overly-competitive, forces of nature that have their reputations tainted by their behaviors. I’m not going to condone kicking someone, spitting on someone, or weaponizing one’s head, but this IS the NFL, all three of them exceptional without dirty play. That being said, although often fueled by “The Cream,” Bill Romanowski was a legendary defensive leader and without question has a profound understanding of the game of football. In turn, he indubitably deserves the utmost respect when talking about the game he built his life around.
During the debate, Bayless and Romanowski made their cases while Smith stewed and winced childishly as they stated their opinions. Again, I’m one of Smith’s biggest fans, and I love his over-the-top delivery when he speaks his mind. However, I’m surprised Romanowski didn’t spear him from his seat, with how immature and “disrespectful!”(to steal a Smith line) he was to Bill. He essentially called him a novice, asked him loaded questions, and proceeded to be so brazen that I was tempted to actually change the channel. Through all of the 10am sessions I’ve had, yelling at a TV that certainly can’t hear, I’ve never once wanted to do anything but hear what’s next. I even agreed with Smith’s stance on the subject, but I was appalled. It was a disturbing experience.
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All in all, if I were Smith I’d never provoke a man’s pride who, though approaching 50 years old, could certainly make a snack of me if he wanted to. The man played through the Cortisone Shot era, and drug terrible secondaries and fat slow lineman to multiple Super Bowls. There’s no questioning his credentials. Though I picture him being very Singletary-esque, it’s very possible that he will be coaching one day, and that definitely cannot be said about Smith. Debate your claims Stephen A. Smith, but don’t insult greatness like you’ve been where they’ve been and seen what they’ve seen. He’s lucky that Romanowski was wearing a suit and not #53.