The new “First Take” format has been announced and Stephen A. Smith will be debating Michael Irvin and…Tim Tebow?
Yup. ESPN announced on Thursday that the Hall of Fame wide receiver Irvin will debate Smith every Monday beginning Sept. 6 while Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy winner, will be Smith’s counterpart to close each week on Fridays.
Throughout the rest of the week Smith will take on a rotating gues of ESPN personalities, including Keyshawn Johnson, Mina Kimes, Kimberley A. Martin, Jessica Mendoza, Chiney Ogwumike, Dan Orlovsky, Kendrick Perkins, Damien Woody and more.
Molly Qerim Rose will continue her role as host of the show.
“This new format will pair Smith with new voices and perspectives every day of the week who will challenge him on their specific area of expertise in a completely new way,” Antoine Lewis, senior coordinating producer of “First Take” said in a statement. “Stephen A., Molly and a lineup of A-list guests will definitely continue to provide fans with all they’ve come toe xpect from ‘First Take’ and much more. We’re excited to get going.”
On Wednesday, Max Kellerman — who replaced Skip Bayless as Smith’s co-host in 2016 — bid farewell to the show as he moves to a new role on ESPN Radio alongside Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams.
Per Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, Smith forced Kellerman off the show — a move he had desired for years — because he wanted more of a debating challenger that could create the same spark he had with Bayless.
Irvin certainly fits the bill of a fiery personality who can match Smith’s energy.
Tebow, on the other hand, is a little different. While the former quarterback-turned-minor-league baseball player-turned-tight end has done work in media before, it has mostly been as an analyst rather than a debate format.