WATCH: Alabama Coach Nick Saban Picks On ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith During ‘First Take’ Return

by Nick Geddes

Monday, Aug. 15, 2022 marked the return of Stephen A. Smith to ESPN‘s “First Take,” the show he’s made famous for a decade and counting.

Smith has been off television for nearly two months, announcing in July that he was recovering from shoulder surgery. He was back in the saddle Monday and welcomed back by a host of guests, including Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. Saban was all smiles in his video message to Smith, jokingly pointing out that he returned to the office just two days after undergoing hip-replacement surgery in 2019.

“Stephen A., we’re all happy to have you back on First Take after your surgery and we’re pleased you’re doing well. But there is some question about how much time do you need off,” Saban said. “You know, I had my hip replaced and I was back to work the next day, and I realize they don’t make them like they used to and some people just do anything to get a day off. But good luck and god bless, my friend.”

Smith responded to Saban’s in jest comment, saying if anyone would return that quickly from surgery, it’d be Saban.

“He’s the one person in the world I believe would do that,” Smith said. “Have hip surgery and be back the next day. The greatest coach in the history of college football as far as I’m concerned. I love that man.”

Saban and Smith have a friendship beyond what you see on TV. Smith, an admirer of the Alabama program, spoke to the Crimson Tide football team in 2019 and gave a motivational speech. Smith returned in 2020 – this time over Zoom – to speak to the team once more.

Stephen A. Smith Returns to “First Take” With a Bang

Rather than in-studio in New York City, Smith’s “First Take” return emanated from the Hudson River. Smith, along with host Molly Qerim and former NFL receiver Michael Irvin, gave fans two hours of sports talk on a yacht. A fitting return for a showman such as Smith.

His first topic of discussion? The Dallas Cowboys, of course.

Yep, a Stephen A. ripping of “America’s Team” can only mean one thing: football is back.