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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith joined the Jeff Garcia pile-on Friday, which began after Garcia publicly questioned Smith’s colleague Mina Kimes.
Kimes criticized Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance against the Green Bay Packers last weekend, even though his team ultimately won and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
“Garoppolo is the definition of being part of a group project that gets an A, while doing none of the work,” Kimes said.
Jeff Garcia, a former 49ers quarterback, responded by saying Kimes doesn’t understand football because she has never played the game.
Kimes’ colleagues and the social media mob didn’t like that, and many wokes then attacked Garcia on Twitter. Smith, meanwhile, waited for First Take to share his opinion on the subject.
“Jeff Garcia – what he said about Mina Kimes was just ridiculous, and quite frankly, sexist,” Smith said on First Take. “I’ve never played football. There’s [sic] plenty of men that are on television that are talking about sports that have never played football…but you’re going to point the finger at her — who I believe does a sensational job, and I’m very proud to have her as a part of First Take.”
Like accusations of racism, claims of sexism often cover for a claimant’s own sense of shame. This time is no different. If anyone has a history of making sexist remarks in sports, it’s Stephen A. Smith.
In 2015, Smith accused female soccer players of playing poorly in the Women’s World Cup because they didn’t want “to mess their hair.”
Last year, Smith also said he doesn’t think women should compete in the UFC. “I don’t want to see women fighting in the Octagon and stuff like that, but that’s just me,” he said.
And Smith was especially controversial when he waded into the issue of domestic violence and accused some women of “provoking” men into hitting them.
“What I’ve tried to implore the female members of my family to do, is let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions. Let’s try to make sure we do our part in making sure that doesn’t happen,” he explained back in 2014. ESPN later suspended him.
Look, we know Smith is a hypocrite. He calls players bad teammates, but he then turns around and works for years to have his former co-host, Max Kellerman, demoted. So him pointing fingers about sexism is hardly surprising.
Smith says there are plenty of men who didn’t play football who talk about it. Well, sort of. The male pundits who never played football are either hosts or hot-take shock-jocks. They are not NFL analysts like Mina Kimes is.
In fact, Kimes is the only NFL analyst at ESPN who isn’t a former NFL player. Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears, Keyshawn Johnson and Ryan Clark all played in the NFL at one time or another. These NFL analysts at ESPN are paid to come at the game — break down film, discuss Xs and Os — as an expert. That’s a lot easier for former players to do than it is for someone who merely studies the game.
As we argued Thursday, Garcia’s comments are not sexist. Garcia believes that people who have never played football at a high level should not opine about those who have as an expert. That doesn’t mean women. It means all people who haven’t played professional football.
Stephen A., that means you too.
In shielding Mina Kimes from all forms of criticism, her fellow sports media pundits prove that they are the sexists, not Garcia. They believe that Kimes, as a woman, is incapable of handling even the mildest criticism.
Garcia never said Kimes was soft. But Stephen A. Smith, with his history, probably thinks she’s weak and worried about her hair.