Report: Max Kellerman Expected to Leave 'First Take' as Stephen A. Smith's Co-Host

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 18, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 02:  Broadcaster Max Kellerman stands in the ring after Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeats Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision in their welterweight unification championship bout on May 2, 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

ESPN pundit Max Kellerman might be leaving First Take to take on "more extended duty on TV and ESPN Radio," as first reported by Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, 

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post added that Kellerman is "expected to be removed" from the popular debate program. 

Per Marchand, Molly Qerim is expected to remain the host and Stephen A. Smith the star, but Kellerman may not be replaced. Instead, "a rotation of verbal sparring partners will likely make the short walk over each morning from another ESPN show, Get Up, which is located in the same Seaport studios."

"It could be Stephen A. vs the World," a source told McCarthy.

Alongside his Max Kellerman Show on ESPN Radio and ESPN2 boxing show, Kellerman reportedly may join the Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin radio show, according to McCarthy. 

Smith is undoubtedly the headliner amongst ESPN pundits, as evidenced by the five-year, $60 million deal he signed in 2019. But according to Marchand, Smith "has often appeared disenchanted with Kellerman," and the latter's removal "has been in the offing for a long time." 

He added that ESPN made a run to bring Skip Bayless—Smith's former co-star on First Take—back to the company, albeit for an ESPN+ show. McCarthy added that Smith and Bayless have remained friends throughout the years and have "made little secret about their desire to work together again one day." 

Bayless currently works for Fox Sports alongside former NFL player Shannon Sharpe and host Jenny Taft on Skip and Shannon: Undisputed