Stephen A. Smith Isn’t Too Excited About Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance: ‘She Ain’t Beyoncé’

Famed sports commentator Stephen A. Smith isn’t that excited about Rihanna headlining the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show.

The ESPN personality and First Take mainstay appeared on The Sherri Show Wednesday. He was asked if he was “excited” about this year’s halftime show.

“I don’t wanna say I’m not excited,” said the famed Dallas Cowboys hater. “She’s fantastic. That’s not where I’m going with this.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, she’s a lot of things. She’s spectacular, actually. And congratulations on new-momma-hood. There’s one thing she’s not. She ain’t Beyoncé,” he quipped.

He went on to explain his reasoning for not being too excited about Rihanna headlining the Super Bowl’s halftime show, one of the most widely seen events of the year.

“Hold on.…The only reason I brought up Beyoncé is because Beyoncé recently performed at the Super Bowl, with and without Bruno Mars and Coldplay,” he said, referencing Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performances in 2013 and 2016.

He also went on to say that Sherri Shephard is doing her thing at hosting her daytime talk show, and he wouldn’t expect just anyone to be able to fill her shoes.

“Rihanna’s music is fantastic,” Smith continued. “She’s great. She’s a sister. I love her dearly, I listen to her music, I’m gonna support her ’til the cows come home.”

While Smith notes the “greatness” of Rihanna, he also says there are “levels” to headlining the Super Bowl and he isn’t completely convinced that Rihanna can handle what it takes to put on a good performance like Beyoncé and Michael Jackson have done in the past.


“I’m just telling you: for me, there’s Beyoncé and there’s everybody else,” he said. “Just like there was Michael Jackson and there’s everybody else.”

Smith did at least say he doesn’t expect Rihanna to be “bad” in her performance due to her being “too great not to be good.”