Tom Brady screamed at Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during yesterday’s victory. The outburst was discussed on ESPN’s First Take this morning. Stephen A. Smith argued that the incident would have been treated much differently if Brady were a black athlete.
Putting aside the non-constructive method of hypothetical scenarios not germane to the facts of the case, Smith, in my opinion, is on to something here. However, his point may carry more weight if the white athlete in question weren’t one of the most successful team leaders in professional sports history.
Smith later veered the conversation in the personal direction of his “Screaming A. Smith” label.
“Yeah, I’ll confess, I’m a bit loud,” he said. “No doubt about that. I’ve been called Screaming A, I get all that. But on a serious note, I’m on live television for two hours a day, I’m on live radio two hours a day. That’s four hours a day. I ain’t screaming all the damn time, but they’ll call me Screaming A. Max Kellerman, you’ll be an expert on this matter. You trying to tell me there aren’t some of my white contemporaries that don’t raise their voice all the time? I don’t hear them labeled in such a fashion. I hear them talked about as if they’re passionate. I hear them talked about, “they’re really bringing it, we love this take, it’s beautiful.”
Smith’s authenticity is strong. It’s clearly something he’s thought about before. The fact that he believes he is criticized for something audiences would applaud a white pundit for is serious.
Having said that, nicknames aren’t exactly doled out after scientific study. Hammerin’ Hank Aaron wasn’t always hammering. Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio had some down time between his jolts. And, truth be told, Smith has been known to raise his voice while arguing a point. That’s not a knock. In fact, his passion is part and parcel of the package he brings to work every day as, arguably, ESPN’s most valued voice.
Who on the network allows themselves to reach the same level of fury while debating? Not Scott Van Pelt. Not Ryen Russillo. Certainly not Mike Golic. Perhaps the closest is Kellerman, and the argument could be made that he does it to match Smith.
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is a good comparison and you can see what his nickname is. Also consider the fact that Smith broadcasted on Mad Dog Radio. Do we want to litigate the Mad Dog moniker? Is that worse or better than “Screaming A.”?