Stephen A. Smith has a new sparring partner on First Take, and he certainly brought up the volume during his first shouty segment on ESPN. Following Max Kellerman’s departure from the program, Michael Irvin was brought in to debate Smith on one of the network’s most popular shows. They even made a hype video for it.
To say all of this is kayfabe is an understatement, as the show started with neither Stephen A. or Irvin in their seats because they needed to have boxing-like introductions. Irvin, for his part, started in a darkened room looking out the window at the New York skyline.
It was all extremely absurd. But they eventually did do some debating. In fact, on Monday Smith and Irvin got into it during a “GOAT debate” where Irvin argued vigorously in favor of Tom Brady holding the title that really only means anything to people who like to yell loudly about such things on national television.
It started mostly reasonable, comparing Brady and Michael Jordan in a mostly apples to starfruit kind of way. But skip to the next video if you want to see some wildly unhinged yelling.
There is something truly special here, perhaps in Smith’s belabored patience while Irvin goes off on him. It also helps that they’re both standing, for some reason, so they can both (in theory) gesture wildly while making exaggerated points. It’s oddly threatening, but not actually important enough to actually feel dangerous.
The two eventually did sit down to continue to trade takes, as they are paid to do here. Even Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones dropped in to make things weird.
If you are actually someone who comes to these kind of shows for takes, they certainly started Monday off with a bang. But we’ll see how long Irvin’s voice holds out if he’s going to keep this pace five mornings a week.