Stephen A. Smith had a friendly conversation with Mark Levin on Wednesday after the ESPN host called “The Mark Levin Show” to discuss the controversy surrounding the anti-Semitic posts released by the broad Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.
Smith began by acknowledging that Levin had the right to be “incredibly upset” to Jackson, who published citations attributed to the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and the rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan, who has been labeled as anti-Semitic by numerous hate watchdogs. The ESPN host told Levin that the social media posts were “inappropriate” and that there was no “apology”
“In the 13 years he has been in the national football league, he certainly has never had something like this before, but it’s still not an excuse,” said Smith.
However, Smith contested Levin’s request for Jackson to be “let go” by the Eagles, but Levin rejected, calling Jackson’s actions a “serious mistake”.
“I mean, are you praising Hitler?” Levin exclaimed. “For the Jews … here.”
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Smith then revealed to Levin that he called Jackson when he discovered the Instagram posts and the first thing he said was “What the hell are you doing?! Why should you do something like that?” He explained that Jackson claimed he was trying to “uplift black people”.
“I said, ‘What the hell are you doing by mentioning Hitler ?! Why should you do it?! It doesn’t make sense!” Smith remembered saying to Jackson.
The discussion then moved on to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem, something Smith reiterated that he opposed it at the time, but acknowledged the quarterback’s right to do so.
“You took a lot of heat for this,” Levin told Smith.
“I don’t give a damn, you know me,” replied the commentator of “First Take”. “I say what I hear. I mean what I say. And let the chips fall where they can. If I’m wrong, then I’ll get up and correct myself and say I’m wrong, but if I was right, I won’t move.”
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“When it comes to him, all I want to say is because I know there are a lot of people out there who obviously felt it was a patriotic problem. What I’m telling you … when Colin Kaepernick knelt, we he didn’t take it that way … Maybe we wouldn’t, but he has the right to do it as an American citizen. “
“Do you think this helps sport?” the host “Vita, Libertà and Levin” asked then. “Aside from politics, seriously, I can’t look at these things anymore, Stephen A. Honestly.”
As someone who has been to many games, Smith pointed out that there are “many people” who do not support or sing for the national anthem but “still manage” to enjoy the game and asked why someone with opposing political views can do the same.
“I’ll tell you the difference. I’m not watching a football game or going to a football game to watch some beer with a beer in the stands. I go there to watch the players,” said Levin. “I’m buying the shirts. I’m buying their sneakers. I’m buying what they’re selling … I’m part of the team, not some shmuck behind me doing whatever the hell he’s doing.”
“What Colin Kaepernick does, even if you don’t agree, didn’t stop you from watching the game because he didn’t do anything during the game,” Smith replied later. “It was before the game!”
Levin pointed out to Smith that the average American cannot go to work wearing “shirts with political statements” because it is contrary to the rules of the employer and that the First Amendment has “nothing to do with the football game”.
The conservative radio host also blew up NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell, who he called a “gutless wonder” for raising the issue of kneeling.
“Take a backbone, take a position and hold your position!” Levin exclaimed.
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Before ending the conversation, Levin launched the idea that he and Smith collaborated to form a new show.
“We should do a nationally syndicated television show together,” suggested Levin.
“In terms of you and I, we will win,” said Smith. “I mean, I would win the sports debate. You would win the political debate. We would both win in the rankings.”
“But we would have fun and everyone would know how to talk to each other,” added Levin.
“That would be true,” Smith agreed. “Because you and I talk about the record all the time.”