ESPN is really bad at football analysis

ESPN personalities like Stephen A Smith and Max Kellerman make football seem like a joke.


Matthew Walter '21

The man, the myth, the legend Stephen A Smith puts the S in ESPN.

Many red-blooded Americans spend their Sundays watching football. In fact, the NFL is the most popular sport in the US. However, most people do not have the football IQ of somebody like Drew Brees or Peyton Manning. This is where football analysis steps in.

Through football halftime shows, commentary, or weekday debate shows like First Take, former NFL players and coaches as well as sports personalities help explain the sport and inform the average viewer. Or, at least they are supposed to.

Stephen A Smith yells about how Aaron Rodgers is a “baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad man.” (

ESPN, however, with its show First Take makes a mockery of genuine football analysis, opting instead for two or more grown men yelling at each other.

Featuring Stephen A Smith and Max Kellerman, First Take is an incredibly entertaining show. It, however, is not at all informative or insightful.


Instead of utilizing statistics, facts, and logic to reach their own conclusions, Stephen A and Max Kellerman are forced to take opposing sides of an argument, no matter how controversial or ridiculous it may be.

You may be thinking this is a claim as outlandish as one made on First Take, but Stephen A literally said he would change his opinion on the spot in a recent episode about the Bucs’ loss at Chicago.

The show exists solely to breed controversy. The two personalities go out of their way to make the most outlandish claims they possibly can.

Max Kellerman tears up when he cannot think of a stupid opinion on the spot. (

Since 2016, Max Kellerman has been pushing the “Tom Brady Cliff Theory.” This theory states that Brady’s talent is falling off a cliff. Brady won the NFL MVP in 2017. Furthermore, this isn’t even a theory, because theories are carefully constructed with facts.

More recent stupid takes (for the sake of content) include saying Nick Foles will win a Super Bowl with Chicago, and constantly ragging on Carson Wentz without showing any of his stats or bringing up the injuries around him.

Another thing ESPN commonly does when analyzing football is utilize what I like to call “ESPN stats.” They make up stats such as QBR and points added to make players (usually quarterbacks) appear better or worse than they actually are.

Stephen A Smith is surprised that somebody is using real stats to make a point. (

For example, if ESPN wanted to say why NY Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is a good player, they could say that he is fourth in the NFL in “clutch-weighted expected points added through rushes.” They would probably not mention how Darnold has just three touchdowns against four interceptions, while completing less than 60% of his passes and leading the worst team in professional football.

But, you may be thinking, that is just a hypothetical situation. Well then, here is a real situation. According to a made up ESPN stat, QBR, the greatest game ever played by an NFL quarterback is Charlie Batch’s 186 yard, 3 touchdown, 2 interception game in 2010. Similarly, one could use QBR to argue that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a better quarterback than Tom Brady.

Marcus Spears gets mad because his take is worse than Stephen A’s. (

Sometimes ESPN won’t even use numbers. A recent article I read from ESPN claimed Patrick Mahomes had set yet another NFL record. Intrigued, I clicked on the article, only to find that the “record” he set was becoming the first quarterback to throw 3 touchdowns and no interceptions in 3 consecutive season openers. THAT IS NOT A REAL RECORD! That is the most meaningless record I have ever seen, and you can see plenty of those on ESPN’s website.

Finally, Monday Night Football is unwatchable. Not because of the announcers or anything, but just because IT SPENDS SO MUCH TIME BUFFERING!