With all the attention on ESPN host Dan Le Batard last week, an unannounced absence on the radio and TV by outspoken host Stephen A. Smith went a bit under the radar.
Smith returned to First Take Monday morning to once again tangle with NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin, who co-hosted Monday’s show in place of Max Kellerman. But it wasn’t the heated argument about the holdout of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott that caught viewers’ attention — it was the sling holding Smith’s injured left arm.
So what happened? Smith tore his left rotator cuff Wednesday boxing during a gym workout. He underwent surgery, and spent the past few days recovering.
“I got a 250-pound trainer. Hitting him was like hitting a wall for crying out loud,” Smith said during a call into his ESPN Radio show last week.
Smith was replaced on First Take last week by Marcus Spears and Domonique Foxworth, and on his ESPN Radio show by Will Cain and Dan Graca, but was back in Bristol, Conn., Monday to go toe-to-toe with Irvin. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for Irvin to get animated, standing up at one point to complain to Smith for taking the side of billionaire NFL owners and even ripping the ESPN host for cutting him off.
“He’s interrupting me too much to really give you the whole pot the right way!” Irvin shouted. "Trust me, you will get the whole pot before this day is in.”
Smith also went berserk when Irvin compared Cleveland Browns receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry with NBA superstars and former Miami Heat teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
“You’re making me laugh, you’re making me laugh, you’re making me laugh,” Smith said incredulously. “Are you saying that Jarvis Landry is on the same level as Dwyane Wade was at basketball at that particular moment in time? Are you doing that? What?!”
It’s not exactly a surprise Irvin and Smith got into a shouting match within minutes of the show’s start. In a notable appearance on First Take last year during football season, Irvin got so worked up a production assistant had to wipe the sweat off his forehead in the middle of a rant.