There was a particularly interesting exchange on Thursday’s edition of ESPN’s “First Take” between Skip Bayless and his guest, all-Pro Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
Particularly the part where Sherman dissed Bayless by insisting he’s “better at life than you” and that Bayless “never accomplished anything.”
Many were simply satisfied with Bayless being dissed, what with him being a lightning rod for criticism.
But according to “First Take” co-panelist Stephen A. Smith, some folks in the media shared in that satisfaction – and he called them out for it.
Yes, on a day where ESPN employees like Bill Simmons and Colin Cowherd are talking about the “First Take” Sherman segment on their own (company) time, why not Smith stick up for his pal on his midday radio show on WEPN/”ESPN New York 98.7.”
While promising listeners that “you will never see Skip and I hanging together” because they are “polar opposites,” Smith came to his defense against a few potshots that were lobbed in Bayless’ direction after the Sherman showdown – by his sports media brethren.
“Every time I turn around, there is somebody attacking Skip’s authenticity,” he said. “If you mean what you say, and you back it up by your version of facts, the one entity in this country that has absolutely, positively no right to condemn him for it, is us: our industry; it’s what supposedly makes us who we are.
“It’s uncalled for,” he continued, “because when we get into the business of really pushing for personal attacks… You are trying to attack this man at every turn. Why? What’s the justification for it?”
Smith then wondered if the same media types that have routinely “attacked” Bayless would hesitate to accept a position at ESPN in a similar role as Bayless. “What would you do? … Everybody wants to talk junk when they’re someplace else, but behind the scenes [they’re] on the phone with their agent, begging to get to where we are, but gonna talk nonsense about this man. It’s ridiculous… To take it to a level that these folks take it to, is just completely and totally uncalled for.
“Skip Bayless, to me, is a good man. I totally understand people who feel otherwise, if you’re watching him from afar. You don’t have to like him. But to walk around and act like he’s doing something so different than the rest of us… You can’t find one single show where people don’t have those who are critics, and those who are supporters. It’s life, it’s a part of our business.”
So while Smith “don’t have a problem” if fans or players have a bone to pick with Bayless, it’s on the contrary when one of their own is attacking him.
“When you have so-called contemporaries, colleagues, people in this business who… want to vilify somebody you simply don’t like, it’s not only weak, it’s not only unprofessional, it’s unethical, it’s immoral. And it’s completely uncalled for. It’s wrong, man.
“People who do what you and I do,” he continued to his co-host Ryan Ruocco, “who know what it entails, and try to act like they’re oblivious to it, being all weak and phony, hiding behind their newspapers, hiding behind their radio networks, hiding behind their television networks, like they don’t know. That’s what irritates me… They know better. And no one calls them on it.”
Smith does have a point that there aren’t that many in the media that call out other media folks for going after Bayless – but he argues that it shouldn’t have to be that way.
“When somebody messes with a cop, what do the cops do? They rally together. One for all, all for one.”
Listen to the audio of Stephen A. Smith’s rant on Skip Bayless haters in the media here (starts at around the 67-minute point or so).