‘The Situation Has to Change Soon’: Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe’s Shocking ‘First Take’ Drama Sparks Rumors Staff Plans to Quit

A new report claims members of Stephen A. Smith‘s production team on ESPN’s “First Take” are considering ditching the show, and the host’s salary demands are playing a huge part in their decision.

The U.S. Sun tabloid reports that two unnamed production team members say that Stephen A. Smith’s salary demands are causing major tension among ESPN’s “First Take” crew. The gossip outlet claims they say Smith’s push for a big new contract, along with co-host Shannon Sharpe’s behavior, has led to a stressful work environment.

Smith’s current contract runs until 2025. He is reportedly asking for about $25 million per year, which would then make him ESPN’s highest-paid analyst. This demand, along with the attitudes of both Smith and Sharpe, has created significant friction, the report claims.

Members of Stephen A. Smith's ESPN 'First Take' production crew are allegedly considering leaving the show over feeling undervalued.
A new report claims “First Take” maestro Stephen A. Smith (left) and his co-host Shannon Sharpe (right) have earned the ire of production crew members who feel undervalued as the two are in line for major raises. (Photos: @stephenasmith/X, @ShannonSharpe/X)

Smith is rumored to have rejected the network’s initial five-year, $90 million offer, holding out for an additional $7 million so that he might make more than “Monday Night Football” analysts Troy Aikman and Joe Buck make. This has upset many behind the scenes.

Sharpe, a three-time Super Bowl champ who joined the show last August after leaving Fox, recently secured a new multi-year contract with ESPN and publicly thanked Smith on-air for his support during a tough time. However, the new report claims staff feel overlooked by Smith and Sharpe, and the recent on-screen treatment of new Lakers head coach JJ Redick has added to the discontent.

“It’s frustrating for all of us who work our as—s off,”  The Sun reports it was told by a purported insider. “Stephen and Shannon think that the show is them and nobody else is as important.”

“Smith and Sharpe are doing whatever they want,” said an anonymous staffer who added that the pair have created a “two-man band against the world” dynamic in the workplace.

The source added, “Shannon had his extension deal, and it’s good for him, but you can really see that both of them care about their deals more than about their coworkers and colleagues. The situation has to change soon, or it will turn into an impossible situation to deal with. I used to enjoy going to work, but right now, I wake up in the morning not wanting to go in. It’s pretty much team Smith and Sharpe against everybody else.”

Another insider, who is said to work as a journalist on the show, revealed to The Sun that some of their colleagues have already begun looking for other jobs after voicing their complaints to the board to no avail.

“Many people are looking for jobs elsewhere or on different shows. The work vibe isn’t the best,” they revealed.

In addition to being on “First Take” five days a week, Smith is also an author, podcast host and contributor to “NBA Countdown.” After covering the NBA draft, he also appeared on NewsNation to talk about the elections.

ESPN and “First Take” have not commented on the recent rumblings.

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