Stephen A. Is Finally Getting His Way, Max Kellerman is On His Way Out

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Industry sources expect ESPN to remove Max Kellerman from First Take.

Front Office Sports first mentioned the possibility of this move Wednesday afternoon.

Sources tell OutKick that ESPN is exploring moving Kellerman to its morning radio show. Keep in mind, ESPN wanted to pair Kellerman and Keyshawn Johnson on morning radio one year ago, as Ryan Glasspiegel and I reported last June. These plans fell through for various reasons. Kellerman ultimately stayed on First Take, received an afternoon radio show, and ESPN Radio paired Johnson with Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti. ESPN has since discussed replacing Mehenti, who is off air dealing with complications from diabetes.

While Kellerman’s future will get the attention right now, Stephen A. Smith’s backstage politics are the real story. Smith’s disdain for Kellerman as a co-host is the worst kept secret in sports media circles. Kellerman’s removal was even a topic in Smith’s 2019 contract negotiations. Smith lost that battle at the time, and Kellerman stayed. ESPN did raise Smith’s salary to over $10 million a year though, so it wasn’t for nothing.

But Kellerman’s time on First Take always had an expiration date because of Smith’s relationship with ESPN Senior Vice President Dave Roberts, who oversees First Take.

As the saying in the industry goes, what Stephen A. Smith wants, Roberts makes happen. For background, Roberts wanted to shake up First Take dating back to 2018. As first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, Roberts tried to replace the show’s host Molly Qerim. Stephen A. Smith was likely on board with this as well.

On First Take, you are treated based on how Smith and Roberts feel about you that day. For Kellerman, it was often unpleasant. Not even claiming that Donald Trump’s base in the SEC is susceptible to low-quality information could save Kellerman from Smith and Roberts’ power.

Ironically, although First Take dedicates many topics to diversity and skin color privilege (example, example, example, example, and many more examples), those associated with the show have little concern about their own diversity moving forward.

ESPN plans to use a rotation of in-house analysts to replace Kellerman on First Take. That means Kendrick Perkins, Jay Williams, Kimberley Martin, Jalen Rose, and the other analysts who have popped up on First Take. Also, knowing ESPN executives, they could try to build Bomani Jones up for the fourth time, though adding Jones to the rotation would test how bulletproof Smith is in terms of viewership.

Perhaps the days of a black guy, a white guy, and an attractive woman in the middle are over. For those wondering, that’s been the premise of nearly every sports debate show. In this case, the white guy got the boot.

So while Smith and ESPN are damaging Kellerman’s career by removing him from its highest-rated daily program, Kellerman is better off not playing Alan Colmes to Smith’s Sean Hannity on air and then playing the punching bag to Smith and Roberts off air.

Should Kellerman land on the morning radio show, ESPN will also use him in other roles. Kellerman will remain featured on the network’s boxing and MMA coverage, which includes live events. Furthermore, ESPN pays Kellerman a daily TV salary. Thus, the network could build an afternoon show around Kellerman in place of Jalen & Jacoby and Highly Questionable, two bizarrely formatted shows that are bleeding viewers.

First Take leads its shows daily by judging star athletes’ leadership, decision-making, use of power, and privilege. Should we do that with Stephen A. Smith?

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.


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  1. That the word “important” appears anywhere within this topic is a sad testament to the obliteration of American “culture”.

    Back in the halcyon days of the 80s … “Important” was reserved for “should Katie Couric change her hair style?” . THAT is earthshaking compered to this. I mean REALLY!

  2. Perhaps the days of a black guy, a white guy, and an attractive woman in the middle are over. For those wondering, that’s been the idea behind nearly every sports debate show. The white guy got the boot.

    Another example of Booby aka Bobby playing the White Male Victim Card. And you wonder why you get picked on and laughed at. Outkick has really become a joke. You have manged to turn a sports site into Gab, Parlor, Brietbart and American Renaissance. Can’t wait for them to add Kurt Schilling and Robert Spencer

    • Ball Don’t Lie…as if national networks don’t play up minorities as victims 24 hours a day? BTW, this isn’t a “Sports Site.” ESPN fits your mantra much better. Outkick seems a place where respecting another’s point of view..without juvenile name calling… is reality.

    • All black people do is play the victim card. They do this because they depend on the white man to make their lives better. They feel they are incapable of accomplishing anything on their own.

      • Say off the weed Bubba because you are OBVIOUSLY high. I thought was out of style? PS are more likely to be on welfare than i am. Go look it up…As a matter of fact AWM. you specifically receive more welfare than anyone else. IJS

  3. But did you hear the one where Draymond Green and Kevin Durant blame the white guys over a fight that they had? Can’t make this stuff up anymore. Just like Joe Biden, taking accountability is dead.

  4. Max Kellerman is one of the biggest hacks on TV. When he talked about boxing way back in the day he had interesting points and insights. Gradually over time, he whored himself out to spew stupid takes and douche opinions.

    Stephen A is just another race-grifting hustler that Disney limousine liberals love to keep on theiur ESPN plantation.

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