Is Stephen A. Smith and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo screaming at each other on Wednesdays producing hot air at a speed so ferocious that it threatens to blow out the windows at ESPN’s Seaport Studios? Yes.
Is it worth the risk to have two of the greatest take artists of all time freestyle against each other every week while the rest of us watch in awe with our mouths agape?
I mean, it’s worth whatever is necessary to keep these two blowtorching each other, and Molly Querim, with scolding hot takes. This is like KRS-One and the Notorious B.I.G. battling in the Rap City basement on a weekly basis. Just give ’em two mics, the staff to calm them down for just enough time to get them in and out of commercial break, and let them go at it.
The most recent mesmerizing moment was today when Stephen A. and Mad Dog were arguing about how much blame Aaron Rodgers deserves for the Green Bay Packers’ persistent playoff shortcomings. This coming a day after news broke about his decision to remain a Packer. Just as Mad Dog was about to unleash 32 bars of fury on Stephen A., he blurted out “whoops,” because he almost fell out of his chair.
Being the true pro that he is, Russo was determined to get back in the chair to make sure this take went out into the universe. However, it turned into a blooper reel as he struggled to get his behind back in the chair, and when he did make contact, the chair had a mind of its own. It wouldn’t stop rolling around behind his section of the debate desk. As Russo was still trying to get off his Rodgers take, Stephen A. lost all composure. He couldn’t keep a straight face watching this 62-year-old man squirming around in an office chair.
The best part of these Russo days is it’s already ridiculous that these two long-time sports media personalities are spending their later years arguing about Rodgers’ level culpability in the Packers’ playoff losses like one of them cut off the other traffic. They’re going so hard after each other that Russo can’t even keep his equipment together.
Last week, as an argument about whether or not Steph Curry is one of the 10 best NBA players of all time turned into whether you want Curry or Larry Bird in a game to save your actual life, Russo’s earpiece quit working. He then starts screaming about his earpiece not working and while he’s fiddling with the thing, and still yelling, it fell out of his ear.
At the end of every episode these two should stand victorious like Maximus and yell into the camera, “Are you not entertained?” This show’s set up is just so basic, and yet so perfect. Get two of the loudest people in media to scream at each other, and shoehorn in some commercials here and there. While simple, it is paying off big time. In February, the ratings for First Take were the best in that month since 2018.
So set your DVRs, and make sure to check social media every Wednesday from now on. You don’t want to miss two of the talkingest talkers to ever talk, take each other on, and you might get the treat of Mad Dog reaching for a piece of paper and accidentally flying over the First Take desk, and yelling on the ground, “What the hell is going on here? Why am I on the ground, and why the hell isn’t Julius Randle playing better?