As promised, windup ESPN anger muppet™ Stephen A. Smith responded to the Redskins’ Chris Baker on Wednesday’s edition of “First Take,” one day after the defensive lineman and a few of his teammates took issue with Smith’s criticism of the way Washington celebrated its fourth straight win Sunday.
— Chris Baker (@cbaker92redskin) October 18, 2016
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) October 18, 2016
During a lengthy rant Tuesday, Smith suggested that the Redskins’ boasting about being the defending NFC East champions was representative of a “loser’s mentality,” among other things. A day later, he detailed his relationship with Baker — who married ESPN talent producer Jamila Phillips in March 2015 — saying that it’s “all love” between him and Baker, while also doubling down on his assessment of the Redskins as being too excited for their present circumstances.
After Smith’s co-host Molly Qerim noted that the Redskins declined to make Baker available to appear on the show, Smith began by plainly stating that he didn’t want to get into a physical altercation with the 333-pound football player.
“First of all, I want to say to the idiots out there — I’m not talking about the Redskins — I’m talking about the idiot trolls out there who actually take something like this [seriously], what do you think I’m going to do, get in a fight with Chris Baker? What do you think, I want to commit suicide? It’s stupid,” Smith said. “But talking sports, having a good time, Chris Baker happens to be married to one of our dear friends, you understand what I’m saying? I mean, it’s all love. We’re just talking sports, alright? Nothing but love for the brother, that’s number one.
“Number two, you’re right, I’m a professional smack-talker; that’s absolutely true. I’m also a professional journalist for 24 years who was elevated to a general sports columnist, one of the few African Americans in the history of this country to have achieved that goal, not to mention hosting my own national radio show, hosting my own national television show. So you’re right, I am a pro, this my lane, so you are not, on the football field, which means you have no chance whatsoever, my condolences to you ahead of time.”
“Now let me get down to business as it pertains to these Redskins, okay?” Smith continued. “Chris Baker and the Washington Redskins, he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t get this, [‘First Take’ co-host] Max [Kellerman]. Chris Baker, I owe you a debt of gratitude. I want to personally thank you for opening your mouth and having something to say. You know why? Because here’s what you missed. Who do I hate more than anyone in the world? The Cowboys! Who is in their division? It would happen to be the Redskins. Who are the guys who were just talking about they’re the kings of the NFC East? It would happen to be the Redskins.
“So Chris Baker, based upon your words, because you want me to attach respect on your name, and of course I’m going to for obvious reasons that I already articulated earlier on in terms of your relationship to this network — ain’t nothing but respect and love for you, baby, ain’t nothing but respect and love for you, Chris Baker — but here’s the question, whatchu going to do? Because last time I checked, I’m sorry, did the Redskins beat the Cowboys? I’m sorry, I don’t recall. Did the Redskins beat the Cowboys this year? I think they lost to the Cowboys, am I correct? So you’re not in first place, and it’s because you lost to the team that is in first place. So, your definition of ‘kings of the division’ is being the second-place team? … Not even in chess or checkers is that true. Maybe chess because we all know that the queen is the real strength. Maybe Chris Baker’s playing chess instead of football; maybe that’s the problem.
“But here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. I look at the Redskins, and what I have to say to Chris Baker is this: I get where you’re coming from. I understand. You know, I’m looking at Matt Jones. He’s running the football very effectively, a very impressive running back, averaging nearly five yards a carry. I’m looking at Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson and what they can do. You got a running game. Even though Kirk Cousins has struggled because he’s Kirk Cousins, he’s still completing 65 percent of his passes. You do have DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in the last years of their deal. They’re looking to get the football more. We know when Jordan Reed comes back, he can do some damage. [Ryan] Kerrigan and the crew are getting after the quarterback, and they’re doing well defensively.
“The way I look at this, Max? According to Chris Baker, you know, I stand corrected. I mean, we’ve still got 10 games to go, but I will happily stand corrected, Chris, if you are, and the Redskins are, what you say you are, which is not the team that hasn’t made the Super Bowl since 1991, by the way. Not that team that hasn’t been to the Super Bowl in 25 years. Oh no. You’re special! Okay, so since you’re special, with the Dallas Cowboys playing football the way that they play, Max Kellerman, is it wrong … for me to sit there and say, well, I expect the Redskins to step up and handle their business? After all, Chris Baker said, ‘Put respect to my name,’ right? Ain’t that what he said? Ain’t that what he said? I’m just asking, Max. I’m just curious.”
Kellerman then took the opportunity to bash the Redskins.
“The Washington franchise, whose name I won’t even use, is the worst franchise in the NFC East,” he said. “That is the franchise you would least like to be a fan of, the way they run their organization, starting with Dan Snyder. They haven’t won a Super Bowl in a quarter century. They celebrate winning the NFC East one year.”
Smith would have the final word … for now.
“Chris Baker plays defense, doesn’t he?” he asked rhetorically. “Doesn’t he play defense? I think he plays defense. … Eighteenth overall, 28th against the rush. You might need to fix that if you’re going to be the best in the NFC East with [Cowboys running back] Ezekiel Elliott there. I’m just saying.”
This isn’t the last we’ll hear of the Smith-Baker feud, which is apparently tinged with respect and love. Smith announced that Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell invited him to appear on ESPN 980’s “Inside the Locker Room” show Wednesday afternoon.
“So, to the nation’s capital, I will be on ESPN Radio 980 AM this afternoon, after 3 o’clock,” Smith said. “Chris Baker, you’re welcome to join me if you want to make a case for your Redskins, who haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1991. I’m just saying.”
Update: During Smith’s appearance on “Inside the Locker Room,” Mitchell called him out for assuming the Redskins were satisfied with just winning the NFC East based on their reactions on Sunday. Mitchell also took issue with Smith challenging Baker on Twitter.
“You take it beyond the actual football and then you put it to a situation like you’re challenging someone’s manhood,” Mitchell said. “Now, that puts you in a different light.”
“I’m telling you that wasn’t the case, and I’m telling you Chris Baker knows that,” Smith said, reiterating that he has nothing but love for Baker.
You can listen to the entire interview here.