Sports media personality Stephen A. Smith quit his morning job as a Fox Sports radio host “voluntarily” as of his show on December 23. He claimed that the 3:30 AM wake-up calls interfered with his day job as an NBA “analyst.” He had been “excused” from at least two jobs at ESPN, supposedly because they were “going in a different direction”—perhaps an acknowledgement that Smith’s all attitude and no analysis approach to sports commentary was a little thin and grating; he looks and sounds like someone more at home on some cable TV comedy. His radio show was opposite ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, and it was no competition.
The only reason I am even bothering to mention Smith is because I happened to catch a few snippets of this last airing of his latest gig while surfing the radio dial on my way to work; during those snippets, he managed to draw my extreme ire by taking one last cheap shot at Brett Favre. Smith couldn’t be happier that Favre was finally dragging his be-hind off the field for all time, asserting that the “selfish” Favre had thrown the Vikings under the bus and destroyed their season all by himself. A lot of people have a Favre-hate complex, but this was going too far. At the beginning of the season, people did point out the team’s flaws—its offensive line, its secondary, the inability of the defense to force turnovers—and looking at the tougher schedule, observed that the offense would have to play near flawless ball and score 30 points a game to repeat last year's performance. Many did not expect this to happen; predictions ranged from an 8-8 record to 11-5; everyone picked Green Bay to win the NFC North.
Now, was Favre more “selfish” that Sydney Rice? Favre wanted to play the whole season if he was coming back, and he had his ankle surgery with that in mind. Rice, who was a key element in the Vikings offensive success last year, was injured the same NFL championship game at New Orleans as Favre. But he ignored doctors’ recommendations and decided to “rest” his injured hip; when “rest” was not healing the injury, Rice decided to undertake surgery—just before the season was about to start. He ended-up missing half the season; his presence would likely have made the difference in several close games early in the year, and winning has a way of being infectious. Many of the problems with the passing game that followed—Bryant McKinnie, the interceptions, defenses neutralizing Percy Harvin’s play-making skills, exposing Bernard Berrian again, the revolving door of new receivers—could be attributed to the sudden disappearance of the key component of the receiving corps. Would Tavaris Jackson have done any better? We saw that he could save himself a few interceptions with Rice in the line-up; we also saw the terrible TJ who was relieved three times in his first start of the season, and put on injured reserve for turf toe the remainder of the year.
So good riddance to Mr. Smith and his “attitude”—the NBA is a better fit for it anyways.