Stephen A. Smith Open to Shannon Sharpe Joining ESPN, ‘First Take’

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ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith rarely backs down from a chance to debate in the world of sports. And with one of the most popular analysts reportedly looking for a new network, Smith seems open to potentially joining forces.

During an episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show on Friday, Smith floated the idea of pairing up with NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe on ESPN’s First Take. Smith’s idea of bringing Sharpe to the show comes as the former NFL tight end reportedly reached a buyout agreement with Fox Sports to exit his role as co-host of Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed later this month, according to Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post.

“I don’t know what @ShannonSharpe’s plans are right now…but I know that if he wants to make his way on over to First Take…I am here for it,” Smith said on the show.

Per the Post, Sharpe will continue his on-air duties with co-host Skip Bayless through the 2023 NBA Finals. However, his farewell on the show is slated to be shortly after the conclusion of the Finals, even though no specific date has been announced.

Details of Sharpe’s buyout from the network have not been released. However, there was seemingly a rift between the 54-year-old and Bayless prior to Sharpe’s reported decision to leave the network’s flagship talk show.

Hostility appeared to surface between the two after Bayless made a controversial tweet following Bills safety Demar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest during Buffalo’s game against the Bengals on Jan. 2. Bayless doubled down on his tweet, despite Sharpe asking him to remove it.

Per the Post, Sharpe wanted to have joint decision-making process of what topics are discussed on the show. Sharpe played 14 seasons in the NFL and earned eight Pro Bowl selections before starting his media career. He joined Undisputed in 2016. 

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