Stephen A. Smith defends saying Pat McAfee isn’t ‘as polished’ because he’s white

Stephen A. Smith denied he was criticizing fellow ESPN host Pat McAfee when he said the former NFL punter is allowed to be not
Stephen A. Smith denied he was criticizing fellow ESPN host Pat McAfee when he said the former NFL punter is allowed to be not
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Stephen A. Smith denied he was criticizing fellow ESPN host Pat McAfee when he said the former NFL punter is allowed to be not “as polished” when it comes to his political views because he’s white.

Smith, the “First Take” host, defended his comment, saying that “the rules are different” for African Americans in media.

“Did you expect me to apologize for that?” Smith said on his podcast, “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” on Thursday.

“I wasn’t talking about Pat McAfee.”

Smith was asked about McAfee during an appearance earlier this week on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast.

ESPN star Stephen A. Smith defended comments he made about fellow host Pat McAfee. Getty Images
ESPN star Stephen A. Smith defended comments he made about fellow host Pat McAfee. Getty Images

“I love Pat McAfee, love him to death. I love his swag; I love the fact that he’s an honest brother. He don’t give a s–t…That’s my kind of dude,” Smith said on the podcast.

“That works for me. Now, is he as polished politically as me? Nope, because he has no desire to be….”

Smith said that “if we’re being honest, he’s white, and I’m black” so “he doesn’t have to be as polished.”

Smith opined that McAfee was allowed to be not “as polished” because he’s white. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con
Smith opined that McAfee was allowed to be not “as polished” because he’s white. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

“I had to be. So I get all that, and I’m not knocking him for it.”

The Post has sought comment from McAfee and ESPN.

McAfee has sparked controversy following interviews on his show with New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who used a Jan. 2 appearance to imply that ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel’s name was somehow linked to a list of associates of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Rodgers, who has not been shy about sounding off on sensitive subjects during his regular appearances on McAfee’s show, denied he implied the comic was a pedophile and condemned those who did, but he stopped short of apologizing.

Kimmel blasted Rodgers and threatened to file a lawsuit.

McAfee is paid a reported $17 million a year to license his podcast to Disney-owned ESPN. Christopher Trim/CSM/Shutterstock
McAfee is paid a reported $17 million a year to license his podcast to Disney-owned ESPN. Christopher Trim/CSM/Shutterstock

The war of words between Kimmel and Rodgers also brought some tension between McAfee and ESPN.

McAfee accused Norby Williamson, ESPN’s head of event and studio production, of trying to “sabotage” his program and claimed Williamson had no respect for him.

ESPN, which is owned by ABC parent Disney, said it would handle McAfee’s comments internally.

McAfee is in the first year of a five-year, $85 million agreement where ESPN licenses his self-produced show.

Smith has denied being envious of McAfee’s salary, which eclipses his reported $12 million annual wage. Getty Images for SiriusXM
Smith has denied being envious of McAfee’s salary, which eclipses his reported $12 million annual wage. Getty Images for SiriusXM

That deal was announced last May and McAfee’s show debuted on ESPN last September.

McAfee’s $17 million-a-year ESPN deal eclipses the $12 million annual wage earned by Smith, who has voiced frustration in the past that the network has underpaid him given the ratings he generates on “First Take” and the all-sports channel’s coverage of the NBA.

Smith has insisted that he is not envious of McAfee’s reported salary. On the contrary, Smith has said he has McAfee to thank for “setting the market” and paving the way for a bigger payday down the line.

With Post Wires