First Take (TV series)

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ESPN First Take
Starring Stephen A. Smith
Molly Qerim
Max Kellerman
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Running time 2 hours
Original network ESPN2
Original release May 7, 2007 – present
Preceded by Cold Pizza
External links

First Take is an American morning sports talk program on ESPN2. One episode airs each weekday from Monday through Friday, with the live episode airing from 10 a.m. ET until noon, along with a full encore after His & Hers.

The show is broadcast from ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut in Studio E. It also has "roadshow" broadcasts for events such as the weeks of the College Football Playoff, the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals from the cities where those events take place.

The entire show, without commercials, is available as an audio-only podcast the afternoon of the same day, following the broadcast of the recorded show. Episodes are also uploaded to the First Take Youtube page for viewing.


Analysts and long-time sports reporters Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith (along with guests) are featured, providing roundtable and often adversarial daily debate—often known as "hot takes"—on current sports topics of interest to the United States audience.


Skip Bayless (left), Dana Jacobson (center), and guest Jay Feely (right) at an outdoor broadcast of the show at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
Stephen A. Smith (left), Cari Champion (center), and Bayless (right) during a broadcast at McGuire Air Force Base in 2014

Former analysts

Host (full-time)[edit]


Frequent guest analysts[edit]

Former guest analysts/hosts

  • Rob Parker: Analyst/Guest Host (suspended from ESPN on December 20, 2012; did not return to network)[2]


The show was originally hosted and moderated by Jay Crawford and Dana Jacobson, formerly of the show's predecessor Cold Pizza.

In August 2011, the show underwent a drastic format change. The former 1st and 10 segments were removed, Bayless' contribution to the show was greatly increased, and the show gained an increased focus on debate throughout the show. The ratings for the show saw a drastic increase as a result, with a reported 58% increase for the first 3 months of 2012, compared to the same time in 2011.

On April 30, 2012, it was announced on-air that regular guest contributor Stephen A. Smith would be joining First Take on a permanent, five-day-per-week basis. On occasions he was reporting from elsewhere, Rob Parker was frequently featured as his replacement until December 20, 2012, when he was suspended for comments made about Robert Griffin III;[2][3] he would not return, as ESPN allowed his contract to expire, rather than re-sign him.[4]

In June 2012, long-time host Crawford announced he would be leaving First Take in order to present SportsCenter.[5]

On July 23, 2012, the show debuted a new set and a new opening song Every Word Great by Wale Ft. Stalley. It now featured an open slideshow showing Bayless and Smith arriving at campus (Once Kellerman joined the show in 2016, scenes showing Kellerman replaced those of Bayless). They are still in Studio E but they are in the middle of it, with a new desk.

In line with these changes, First Take introduced on October 1, 2012 a new permanent moderator, Cari Champion, previously a reporter from the Tennis Channel.[6]

Previously, the show had a rotation of moderators, such as Todd Grisham, Don Bell (now Sports Director & anchor with Philadelphia's KYW-TV), Cindy Brunson (now with Fox Sports Arizona) and Jemele Hill.

On January 13, 2015, the first special edition of the show aired after the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship titled First Take: College Football Championship Post Game Special.[7][8]

On June 19, 2015, Champion left First Take due to her promotion to SportsCenter anchor. The following month, she was replaced on an interim basis by Molly Qerim, who was promoted to permanent host on September 15.

On July 25, 2016, Max Kellerman permanently replaced Skip Bayless as the “First Take” co-host as Bayless had left ESPN to join rival network Fox Sports 1.[1]


Through the show's success, First Take has experienced substantial controversy and faced increasing criticism, mostly concerning perceived sensationalism.

Among claims have been that First Take has used hot button racial issues to create inflammatory debates and increase ratings. Most notably, during a discussion regarding Washington Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III, frequent guest Rob Parker asked whether Griffin III was a "brother" or a "cornball brother." When pressed by host Cari Champion as to what that meant, Parker mentioned that Griffin III had a white fiance and mentioned claims that Griffin III was a Republican.[9] In response, Bayless asked whether Griffin III's braids did anything to assuage Parker's concerns.[10]

The show has been criticized for what is perceived by many as its excessive coverage of the career of Tim Tebow. During his tenure with the Jets, in which he did not start in a game, and threw just eight passes the entire season, Tebow was nonetheless often a leading topic.[11]

As Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James began a series of playoff appearances with the Cavs, host Skip Bayless became well known for his belief that James had been overrated by the media and not received enough criticism for his team's playoff failures.[12] Bayless has himself been criticized by fans as well as members of the media for exaggerating James' failures and diminishing his successes.[13] In an exchange with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Cuban argued that Bayless had reduced his analysis of the 2011 and 2012 NBA finals series to subjective and limited assessments of player psyche, and had not even considered the offensive and defensive strategies used by the teams in each series.[14]

On July 29, 2014, ESPN suspended co-host Stephen A. Smith from the show for one week over his controversial comments regarding the NFL's decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for the first two games of the 2014 season as a result of his domestic violence incident with his fiancée in February 2014.[15]

In February 2016, Stephen A. Smith, as well as ESPN, Little League Baseball, and Chris Janes, were sued by the parents of players from the Jackie Robinson West baseball team, whose 2014 Little League World Series title was vacated after James found the team had used ineligible players from outside a defined regional boundary. The lawsuit contained an allegation that Smith had made a defamatory remark regarding the controversy on First Take, which "directly accused the JRW parents of perpetrating a fraud against the Little League".[16][17]


  1. ^ a b "Max Kellerman to Replace Skip Bayless on ESPN's 'First Take'". 11 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Rob Parker suspended by ESPN for 30 days". Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  3. ^ Chris Chase, USA TODAY Sports (13 December 2012). "ESPN's Rob Parker on RGIII: 'Is he a brother or is he a cornball brother?'". USA TODAY. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  4. ^ "Rob Parker's contract not renewed by ESPN". Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  5. ^ "'First Take' says farewell to Jay Crawford". 
  6. ^ "Cari Champion: New Host of ESPN TV Show First Take". 10 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "First Take: College Football Championship Post Game Special -". Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "ESPN2 Schedule - Are You Watching This?!". Are You Watching This?!. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  9. ^ Farrar, Doug (2012-12-20). "ESPN's Rob Parker suspended just 30 days for offensive comments about Robert Griffin III". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  10. ^ Farrar, Doug (2012-12-13). "ESPN's Rob Parker says ridiculous things about RG3, takes 'First Take' to new levels of depravity". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  11. ^ "How ESPN Ditched Journalism And Followed Skip Bayless To The Bottom: A Tim Tebow Story". November 12, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  12. ^ "Skip Bayless: LeBron has work left - ESPN". 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  13. ^ "Here Are All Of LeBron's Unspectacular 45 Points". Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  14. ^ Dwyer, Kelly (2013-05-31). "Mark Cuban absolutely destroys ESPN's Skip Bayless on air, Skip Bayless doesn't seem to care (VIDEO) | Ball Don't Lie". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  15. ^ Bien, Louis. "A complete timeline of the Ray Rice assault case". Retrieved 2016-02-12. 
  16. ^ "Jackie Robinson West parents sue team, Little League, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 February 2016. 
  17. ^ Lee, William. "Jackie Robinson West parents file suit against league, ESPN, whistleblower". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 February 2016. 

External links[edit]