Shannon Sharpe Joining ESPN’s “First Take” To Debate Stephen A. Smith Following Departure From ‘Undisputed’

Shannon Sharpe

The morning sports debate show time slot somehow just got a lot louder, and that’s saying something.

ESPN’s First Take is often credited for ushering in the era of sports debate shows, with the version that most are familiar with pitting analysts Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless against one another. However, Skip left the show in 2016 to pursue a similar opportunity at a rival sports channel Fox Sports, and started squaring off against former football tight end Shannon Sharpe on a knock-off show called Undisputed.

The chair across from Stephen A. Smith has struggled to find a long term fix, with analyst Max Kellerman first stepping in and then eventually being replaces (and later fired). Once that ship sailed, a rotation of talking heads cycled in to face off against Smith. Doing so has actually seemed to work for ESPN’s First Take, who has had a tremendous amount of success with the likes of Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and former NBA sharpshooter J.J. Reddick going to sports-talk-show-war with Stephen A.

Things seemed to be going well for both ESPN’s First Take and Fox’s Undisputed, that is until it became clear that Shannon Sharpe no longer wanted to work with Skip Bayless. Once Sharpe left the Fox Sports debate show, there were immediately rumors that Stephen A. was interested in stealing him away from his former colleague, and now it appears that those rumblings have come true.

ESPN and First Take just announced that they will be bringing Shannon Sharpe on board to sit across from the hot-take machine that is Stephen A. Smith. However, when many first heard the news, they assumed that it would be in a full time capacity, but that is not the case according to reports.

ESPN’s signature debate show will stick to their strategy of having Stephen A. be the mainstay and rotating in guest hosts, so Shannon Sharpe will be joining First Take on Mondays and Tuesdays during the upcoming football season.

It can be assumed that the other guests hosts that have been popular for the show (Russo, Reddick, etc.) will fill in the other three days of the week, with the talented moderator of the show, Molly Qerim, doing her best to wrangle whoever happens to be there each day.

Seems like the perfect match for Stephen A. Smith, and the perfect person in Shannon Sharpe to come in post-NFL football weekends to break down the biggest stories and, in patented First Take fashion, yell hot takes to the heavens.

You’ve got to think that the news has to hurt former First Take host and Smith on-screen rival Skip Bayless, who has only countered with news that hip-hop artist Lil Wayne will join Undisputed to debate sports with him from time to time.

It might not be a competition (it actually is a huge one, but for the sake of the finishing line of the article, we’ll say it’s not), but if it were, I’d say Stephen A. Smith and First Take are now officially winning.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock