ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith has made a career getting in spirited and loud sports debates with all comers. A natural for the camera, he often appears delighted when things get particularly shouty—though, apparently, there’s one opponent he didn’t enjoy getting all riled up against: Tim Tebow.
Smith discussed his reasoning on his podcast, Know Mercy, explaining that he thought Tebow was such a pleasant and kind person that he felt guilty anytime he “tangled” with him.
“JJ Redick is not the only person that I’ve tangled with on First Take. I’ve tangled with Ryan Clark, I’ve tangled with Marcus Spears, I’ve tangled with Dan Orlovsky. About the only person I didn’t tangle with was Tim Tebow, because he’s my friend and he’s a very nice guy,” Smith explained. “And damnit when I get on him too much, I almost feel like I’m destined for hell, cause he’s such a wonderful, wonderful human being and I almost feel like I deserve to be crucified for insulting him.”
Tebow was one of several rotating verbal sparring partners for Smith following former co-host Max Kellerman’s departure from the show. While Smith certainly doesn’t appear that he would ever let personal feelings get in the way of a good sports argument, it seems he is able to pull back when his opponent is as likable as the former Heisman Trophy winner.