Stephen A. Smith fears he may be let go at ESPN
"Don’t ever, ever, ever in your life as a Black person take anything for granted," he told Monday's audience on his "The Stephen A. Smith Show" podcast.
Stephen A. Smith seems to think his time at ESPN could be coming to an end.
The eminent sports journalist addressed the cable network’s recent dismissals on his podcast, “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” after seeing at least two dozen friends and former coworkers fired from ESPN on Friday. According to Awful Announcing, speaking Monday on the layoffs, Smith said he takes nothing for granted.
“This ain’t the end. More is coming,” Smith shared, reports cited. “And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I could be next. Let me tell you all something. Don’t ever, ever, ever in your life as a Black person take anything for granted. I told you before, when white folks catch a cold, Black folks catch pneumonia.”
Smith faced criticism over the weekend on social media for commanding a hefty salary at ESPN despite the most recent layoffs, but the condemnations reportedly were minuscule in comparison to the slamming Pat McAfee received. McAfee, who is white and whose popular daily podcast and YouTube show join the fall programming at ESPN, signed an $85 million contract with ESPN one month before the layoffs, making him an easy target.
Smith attributed the layoffs to COVID-19 and revenue lost due to Disney having to shut down its theme parks at the height of the pandemic. In contrast to 2009, when he was fired by ESPN rather than laid off, Smith claims it’s a numbers game.
Fan Nation, which is part of Sports lllustrated, reported that The Philadelphia Inquirer sacked Smith in 2007 and later rehired him. ESPN dropped the host in 2009 before he made a successful comeback – which appears to be part of his reasoning for saying, “I could be next.”
“The one thing I could tell you about Stephen A: This ain’t 2009,” Smith said Monday, Awful Announcing reported. “I really didn’t see it coming. My eyes are always wide open now. I’m never comfortable. I never take anything for granted and I never assume that I’m safe.”
Smith noted that back in 2009, the sports channel fired him due to budget cuts, while others were laid off. He alleged that after his firing, he came dangerously close to being blacklisted since it was made clear he wasn’t someone you should work with. Smith was unsure whether he would ever have a career again.
It may be a wild assumption to imagine ESPN would consider firing the outspoken Smith, considering his $12 million annual contract, which ends in 2025, is currently a steal compared to its other contracts.
Smith – who hasn’t been shy in expressing the desire to pursue a career beyond what ESPN can provide – also shared a message for his haters criticizing him online.
“Y’all can kiss my a**. Twice,” Smith said, Awful Announcing reported. “And I’m talking directly to the people in the industry who sat up there and said, ‘Why isn’t Stephen A. gone?’ Ladies and gentlemen, we have a few people at ESPN getting paid more than me. They don’t have a No. 1 show, they don’t have top ratings, they don’t generate more revenue … and by the way, none of them are Black. How come you didn’t bring their names up? I wonder why? I’m talking to those folks, the critics in [the] media, or the wannabe media with the blogosphere and the websites.”
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