shannon sharpe, stephen a. smith, first take, espn, skip bayless

Shannon Sharpe Tells Stephen A. Smith Why He Left ‘Undisputed’

In a lengthy episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show podcast,  Smith sat down with his First Take co-host Shannon Sharpe, delving into Sharpe’s much-talked-about departure from the rival show, Undisputed.

Sharpe made his First Take debut with Smith for the full two hours on Sept. 4-5, following Week 1 of college football and the opening week of the NFL regular season. Their appearance on First Take marked the first time HBCU alums had co-hosted. (Smith went to Winston-Salem State; Sharpe attended Savannah State.)

The conversation turned to Sharpe’s exit from Undisputed, which was spurred by comments from his co-host Skip Bayless that he was jealous of quarterback Tom Brady. Bayless told Sharpe, “[Brady]‘s still playing at a high level at 45 when you had to stop at 35, that’s the point!”

You could hear the raw emotion in Sharpe’s voice in his response to Bayless: “That’s what you do. Every time I call something into question, ‘I’m jealous’. Skip, I did what I did. You make it seem like I was a bum! I’m in the effing Hall of Fame. I’ve got three Super Bowls…See what you do, you take personal shots…You’re willing to take a personal shot at me to say this man is better than me because I say he’s playing bad this year?…You would disrespect me to support him!”

Sharpe candidly discussed with Smith what ultimately led to the exit, telling Smith “it had gotten to the point where we needed to go our separate ways. I wish it had been handled differently, but it was handled the way that it was.”

Sharpe admitted that he had certain “blind spots” when it came to Bayless.

He added that the fallout of the Tom Brady incident can be chalked up to instances where he let Bayless slide with snide remarks. Sharpe shared that it took quite a bit for him not to lay hands on his co-host during the Tom Brady incident. He then recalled a lesson from his grandmother in Georgia where she told him, “Don’t you be no slave to loyalty.”

Smith noted that Sharpe’s personal conduct is probably due to his upbringing in the South, as he noted that there is a tendency for Black men in the South not to tolerate disrespect from anyone.

Sharpe agreed: “It’s kind of like a bully, once a bully does something to you, if you don’t stand up, he’ll keep doing it.”

Sharpe told Smith that eventually his relationship with Bayless was more or less contained to their workspace because that’s how Bayless wanted it.

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