Things turned ugly on ESPN’s mega-successful sports show “First Take” when NFL Hall of Famer Terrell “T.O.” Owens told Stephen A. Smith on air that his White co-host “almost seems Blacker than you.”
The source of the Smith-Owens eruption was the fiasco surrounding Colin Kaepernick, the exiled former NFL quarterback whose tryout with the league turned into a certified disaster on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Atlanta.
The White co-host on “First Take” that T.O. referred to is renowned reporter Max Kellerman. Many Blacks have championed the sportscaster since Saturday because of Kellerman’s adamant advocacy of Kaepernick’s cause to get back in the NFL. Kellerman also called out the NFL for being dishonest in dealing with Kaepernick, further endearing himself to many African Americans.
Smith has been one of Kaepernick’s most vocal critics in terms of how he handled the NFL workout on Saturday, Nov. 16. When Kaepernick’s camp believed that the NFL was not operating in good faith, “Kaep” changed venues at the last minute from the Atlanta Falcons’ facility to a high school football field about an hour away.
Owens, 48, sides with Kellerman in terms of supporting Kaepernick. And this is the source of the high-decibel argument that degenerated into personal attacks. At one point during the live debate, T.O. blurted out: “Max almost seems blacker than you, Stephen A.”
Smith almost rocketed into space at that shade as he immediately signaled for a “timeout” and barked at Owens that he “crossed the line.”
“I’m gonna check you right now,” Smith said. “You done crossed the line.”
This is not the first time that T.O. has questioned someone’s Blackness. In the summer of 2018, Owens called fellow Hall of Famer receiver Michael Irvin an Uncle Tom.
Owens tried to mop up his mess by telling Smith, “You’re taking it as disrespect. There’s no disrespect; it’s tongue-in-cheek.”
Both men said there are no hard feelings, however, the argument spilled off the air and onto Twitter, with Owens disputing Smith’s account that he called ESPN to come on the show. Owens refutes this.
“They called my guy @douggiefresh21 and asked me to be on the show!!” Owens said. “Let’s not get it twisted! I got the texts from my guy @douggiefresh21 himself asking if my ears were burning because someone at @ESPN had just called him to have me come on the show.”
Owens added in another tweet; “Again, ‘THEY’ have given u information, wrong information at that and u believed it!! AND I’M GONNA LEAVE IT AT THAT!”
Flip the page to see the two segments of Owens and Smith’s debate that took a left turn on ESPN’s “First Take.”