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Richard Sherman will join Skip Bayless on Undisputed after the show relaunches Aug. 28.
However, he is not replacing Shannon Sharpe as Bayless’ full-time debate partner. At least to begin, Sherman will appear on the show for a total of 50-100 dates, as first reported by the New York Post.
Whether FS1 wanted Sherman full-time or not, the part-time deal behooves the network. The arraignment allows FS1 to establish the program as Bayless’, a al First Take with Stephen A. Smith, while also securing a frequent big-name debate partner.
Adding Sherman full-time would have been a risk. Debate shows are built around chemistry. Forget the contentious, uncomfortable back-and-forth Bayless and Sherman had in 2013 at ESPN — chemistry is built over months, if not years.
Sometimes co-hosts click instantly; Bayless and Sharpe did. Others do not; Stephen A. and Max Kellerman never did.
Thus, Undisputed signing Sherman for only a number of dates allows FS1 to more easily replace him if chemistry does not develop.
What’s more, the deal permits the network to re-evaluate the lineup after the football season. Perhaps Sherman, an All-Pro cornerback, performs well during NFL topics but is not equipped to debate the NBA from February to July, as he’d be required to do.
OutKick’s Dan Dakich is confident Sherman will do well, at least in the fall:
“I’m sure the show’s gonna be great because Skip carries it,” said Dakich. “Sherman is awful on Amazon, but [he] is opinionated. And there is history between the two which I like… I like the combination. I’m not mad at it. It’ll be fine.
“Of course, Skip Bayless is one of the 22 best at what he does. In fact, he is the best at what he does. I would say Stephen A. Smith is second but that’s really the only two that do what they do. But Richard Sherman joining Undisputed should make for some pretty good TV.”
If chemistry develops between Bayless and Sherman and the latter shows he can debate all sports, FS1 can look to extend Sherman’s role. If not, the channel can turn to other options for the winter and summer months.
Though it’s unclear which days Sherman will and won’t appear, one can surmise it won’t be on Fridays. Sherman will remain on Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football studio show which broadcasts on-site of the matchup, taking him away from Fox Sports’ Los Angeles studio for the Friday show.
And Bayless might not want Sherman on Fridays anyways. Skip recently announced Lil Wayne will appear on the show each Friday, beginning in August.
Bayless and Lil Wayne are personal friends and have a unique relationship. Sherman, or any co-host, appearing on set with Wayne and Bayless would be unnecessary.
In addition to Wayne, the set-up lets the network test other personalities opposite of Bayless — be it FS1 colleague LeSean McCoy or athletes with whom Balyess has history, like Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens.
As Bayless adds Lil Wayne and Richard Sherman to his lineup, ESPN expects to sign his former debate partner, Shannon Sharpe, to debate his other former partner, Stephen A. Smith, as Undisputed and First Take continue to go head-to-head.