In a lengthy episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show podcast lasting nearly an hour and a half, Smith sat down for an exclusive interview with his First Take co-host Shannon Sharpe, delving into Sharpe’s much-talked-about departure from rival show Undisputed. Sharpe also explored a range of subjects during the conversation.
Sharpe made his First Take debut across from Smith for the full two hours on Sept. 4-5, following Week 1 of college football and kicking off the opening week of the NFL regular season. Their appearance on First Take marks the first time HBCU alums will be co-hosts on that show. (Stephen A. Smith went to Winston-Salem State and Shannon Sharpe attended Savannah State.)
Since Sharpe has left ESPN‘s competitor show, Undisputed on FS1, the ratings for both shows have gone in diverging directions with First Take’s ratings skyrocketing and Undisputed‘s ratings plummeting. Eventually, the topic of conversation turned to Sharpe’s exit from Undisputed, which was spurred by comments from his co-host Skip Bayless that he was jealous of quarterback Tom Brady.
Bayless told Sharpe, “[Brady]‘s still playing at a high level at 45 when you had to stop at 35, that’s the point!”
From that point, the argument devolved and you could hear the raw emotions cracking in Sharpe’s voice as he retorted to Bayless, “That’s what you do. Every time I call something into question, I’m jealous. Skip, I did what I did. You make it seem like I was a bum! I’m in the effing Hall of Fame. I’ve got three Super Bowls… See what you do, you take personal shots… You’re willing to take a personal shot at me to say this man is better than me because I say he’s playing bad this year? …You would disrespect me to support him!”
Sharpe candidly discussed with Smith what ultimately led to the exit, telling Smith “It (their relationship)had gotten to the point where we needed to go our separate ways. I wish it had been handled differently, but it was handled the way that it was.”
Sharpe admitted that he had certain “blind spots” when it came to Bayless.
Sharpe also said that the fallout of the Tom Brady incident can be chalked up to instances where he let Bayless slide with snide remarks where he shouldn’t have. Sharpe commented that Bayless took a point he was making about Brady and attacked him personally, but he comments that in the heat of the moment, that he felt that Bayless disrespected him personally. Sharpe shared that it took quite a bit for him not to lay hands on his co-host in that moment.
“I remember going home, I called my sister, I called my brother, my homeboy everybody had told him, he raced home and he watched it. It took a lot, it took a lot for me not to put my hands on him,” Sharpe said. He then recalled a lesson from his grandmother in Georgia where she told him, “Don’t you be no slave to loyalty.”
The conversation between Smith and Sharpe was notably connected. Smith noted that Sharpe’s personal conduct is probably due to his upbringing in the South, as he noted that there is a tendency for Black men in the South not to tolerate disrespect from anyone.
Sharpe agreed, saying, “It’s kind of like a bully, once a bully does something to you, if you don’t stand up, he’ll keep doing it.”
This is embarrassing behavior on air from Skip here. And when Shannon takes the glasses off…we’ve all been there… pic.twitter.com/ntXvIFuFni
Sharpe also discussed the nature of his relationship with Bayless, telling Smith that eventually their relationship to each other was more or less contained to their workspace because that’s how Bayless wanted it. Smith nodded several times while Sharpe was discussing his relationship and his read on how Bayless conducted himself. It is clear from Smith and Sharpe’s previous discussion about Bayless on Sharpe’s podcast Club Shay Shay that the two men are both deeply appreciative of the way Bayless boosted both of their careers.
Smith told Sharpe on Club Shay Shay, “No matter how problematic he can be, the reality is that I wouldn’t be where I am today if he didn’t give me that opportunity on ‘First Take.’”
Smith added, “For me to insult him in any way is just disrespectful.”
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Source: Black Enterprise