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#pounditMonday, October 25, 2021

Stephen A. Smith has had ‘disdain’ for Max Kellerman on ‘First Take’?

Stephen A. Smith

Max Kellerman is expected to be removed from his longtime role as co-host of ESPN’s “First Take” in the near future, and it would stand to reason that Stephen A. Smith played a role in the decision. Apparently, Smith does not enjoy his on-screen debates with Kellerman.

Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports first reported on Wednesday that Kellerman is expected to be pulled off of “First Take.” According to Outkick’s Bobby Burack, Smith has wanted Kellerman gone for quite some time.

As Burack described it this week, Smith’s “disdain for Kellerman as a co-host is the worst kept secret in sports media circles.” Smith supposedly tried to have Kellerman removed from “First Take” when Smith was negotiating a contract extension with ESPN in 2019. The network did not accommodate the request but raised Smith’s salary to more than $10 million per year, making him the highest-paid employee at ESPN.

ESPN may not replace Kellerman with a full-time co-host and could instead use a rotation of in-house analysts and special guests to debate Smith. Kellerman is expected to remain prominent with ESPN as a boxing and MMA analyst. He could also replace Zubin Mehenti on the “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” morning radio show.

There is one person that Smith would probably love to partner with, but it’s unlikely that ESPN can make that happen.

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