A little over a week ago, The Big Lead broke the story that Stephen A. Smith would be out of work after his contract at ESPN expired after the NBA playoffs. As a Philly sports fan, it was fascinating to watch Stephen A. Smith’s meteoric rise from Sixers beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer to columnist to national NBA voice for CNNSI, then Fox Sports, and finally ESPN. Stephen A. and his polarizing personality hit their apex with his own talk show on ESPN2, while simultaneoulsy hosting a daily radio show on ESPN Radio New York and writing his column for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was the ultimate triple threat and on top of the sports media landscape. The higher you are the further there is to fall, and Stephen A. fell far. He lost all three gigs within a little over a year. My own hypothesis is there was just too much Stephen A. Smith. I like him as long as he’s in small doses, but he was overexposed and apparently I wasn’t the only one that felt that way.
Stephen A. Smith joined 790 the Ticket in Atlanta with 2 Live Stewsand expanded upon his short answer (on his website) about what happened at ESPN. When asked the question from the Stews, Stephen A. had a four minute answer and didn’t come up for air. Here’s some of the highlights. “Well first of all, it’s been 5 1/2 wonderful years there…I really meant what I said when I said I’m leaving a lot of good friends behind. But you know what there comes a point in time when you got to step out and do what you have to do…let’s be clear, I’m not going to sit here and front anything they came to me and said they were not going to renew my contract. They said that to me amd I totally supported their decision because if I wanted to stay I could have accepted their offers before that which I did not do. It had nothing to do with anything negative that they’ve done to me because this isn’t a Keith Olbermann kind of situation or anything like that.”
“I have a bachelor’s degree, I’m an educated black man…I care about more than sports. I care about what’s going on in the real world. I care about news. I care about politics and I want to be able to talk about these things. I have an aspiration to have my own show ala Keith Olberman, Bill O’Reilly, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity or whatever. Not just in television, but in radio. I don’t want to be limited to one genre. “I just looked in the mirror fellas and I said you know I’m 41 years of age, I’ve got a little cash stashed away…I’m a proud single daddy no question about that, but it’s just one of those thing man where I just reached a point where at age 41 with about 20 to 25 years left in this business me doing my speaking engagements around the country, me representing the communities specifically the African-American community throughout this country being one of the preeminent voices out there… if this is where I stop, then at age 41, I’m not growing anymore and I couldn’t live with that.