First TakeStudio Shows

The Monday Lineup: 6 ESPN moments from the weekend and for the week ahead; PLUS Skip Bayless on how Robert Smith’s emotional First Take appearance came to be

Some of what you may have missed over the weekend and what’s coming up from ESPN:

On Friday’s First Take (10 a.m. ET, daily on ESPN2), ESPN college football analyst Robert Smith had a candid conversation with Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless and Cari Champion about his battle with alcohol addiction in the wake of San Francisco 49er Aldon Smith being reinstated after undergoing rehab for substance abuse.

Bayless is known to speak openly about his parents’ struggles with alcoholism. After many talks with Bayless about his own recovery from alcoholism, Smith made the decision to go on First Take (video above) to offer some insight and advice on what he calls a mental illness.

The positive response from viewers following Friday’s segment (which aired at 10:20 a.m.) has been significant, and although Bayless says he doesn’t read tweets addressed to him, he has gotten “huge reactions from friends, family and people I know.” He added that actor Jerry Ferrara (who had been on First Take recently) texted him to say “how much he was taken by it and how powerful it was.” (SportsCenter also interviewed Smith on the topic about an hour after his First Take appearance.)

But what surprised Bayless the most was his own mother’s outreach during the show.

“My mom, who I brought up on the air and who has been sober for about 35 years and never misses an AA meeting, texted me during the show – which is unusual – to say how much she appreciated the way Robert delivered his testimony,” Bayless said. “And that was powerful to me because she would be hypercritical of that and would have a high-fraud detector on that and she was completely sold.”

– By Jennifer Cingari

1. A new season of NBA Countdown debuted on Friday.

2. College GameDay heads to Tuscaloosa this weekend. Before that, a look at the FSU stop.

2. ESPN2’s New York City Marathon coverage did not disappoint.

3. Ken Jeong’s Friday night SportsCenter gig went well.

4. Busy weekend for ESPN’s NFL reporters and the Monday Night Football crew, who snuck in some time for curling.

Lisa Salters interviews Aaron Rodgers.
Lisa Salters interviews Aaron Rodgers for tonight’s Monday Night Countdown (ESPN, 6:30 p.m.).
Mike Tirico gets his "curling" on with members of of the MNF family.
Mike Tirico gets his “curling” on with members of of the MNF family.

5. The season finale for E:60 is Tuesday.

6. It’s hockey season.

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