Hugh Douglas was inebriated and threatened to beat up his colleague Michael Smith three times Friday night, a source who witnessed the altercation at the House of Blues in Orlando tells The Big Lead. According to the source, Douglas, who appears on Numbers Never Lie on ESPN with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, was trying to get on stage where the DJ was playing, and threatened to beat up Smith if he couldn’t help out. After the third threat, Smith tried to walk away, at which point Douglas grabbed Smith’s wrist and hurled two racial epithets at him, calling him an “Uncle Tom” and a “House N—-.” Smith, the witness says, turned around to protect himself, at which point onlookers rushed in to break it up.
Three independent sources have verified this version of events.
Douglas was then pulled aside by someone from ESPN who was in attendance, and the two briefly spoke. Douglas then left the party.
A source at ESPN says that Douglas has been yanked off Numbers Never Lie until the network can sort out details from the night. Douglas, who hasn’t tweeted since the incident, couldn’t be reached for comment. Smith, who hosted the show Monday, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The event was hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists, and the party was to raise money for college scholarships. A NABJ official who refused to be quoted by name told The Big Lead, “we’re confident that ESPN will handle the situation in an appropriate manner.”
Douglas came to ESPN by way of the NFL, where he was once a first round draft pick of the Jets. On the heels of Riley Cooper’s situation in Philadelphia, and Douglas using racial slurs in the direction of his colleague, one is reminded of 2006 in Philadelphia, when the Eagles narrative was that Donovan McNabb couldn’t “win the locker room” because he wasn’t “a leader.” If you remember, the complaint with McNabb was he couldn’t win the respect of some of his teammates; the Philadelphia head of the NAACP didn’t think McNabb was black enough. Years later, Philadelphia boxer Bernard Hopkins made racially-tinged remarks about the final McNabb years in Philly.
During McNabb’s infamous dispute with Terrell Owens, many in the Philly locker room reportedly sided with the clownish Owens over the greatest QB in the history of the franchise. Douglas wasn’t on that Eagles team, but he publicly questioned McNabb’s leadership at the time. (In 2011, Douglas was still not done with McNabb, calling him a ‘sissy‘ on Dan LeBatard’s show at the 4:04 mark before quickly taking it back.) Douglas is a fair representation of the mentality that exists within many NFL locker rooms. Guys like McNabb and Smith – who covered the Patriots for the Globe – are viewed as sellouts.
The NFL locker room can be a confusing place.