ESPN has announced that Max Kellerman is leaving First Take after five years.
According to a press release from ESPN, “Kellerman will host a new ESPN television series (more details to follow), after serving on ESPN’s popular First Take program alongside Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim Rose since July 2016. More information on the new Kellerman show and on First Take’s updated format will be announced soon. Kellerman will also continue to host his weekly boxing show, Max on Boxing on ESPN2.”
Kellerman will also join Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams for ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, JWill & Max. Zubin Mehenti, co-host of the show formerly known as Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin, has been replaced after missing considerable time over the past year due to health complications.
Reports of Kellerman’s departure from First Take surfaced last week, with the popular sports debate show said to be taking on a format in which a source told Front Office Sports was being dubbed “Stephen A. vs the World,” featuring a rotating cast of guests. Speculation regarding who will be asked to fill in opposite Smith has everyone, us included, drawing up our wish list.
According to a new column from New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, Smith was the person who requested that Kellerman be removed from First Take. The column goes on to speculate that Smith’s ultimate goal is to host a late-night talk show.
Kellerman stepped into the First Take seat vacated by Skip Bayless in July 2016, after Bayless signed a lucrative deal to launch the Fox Sports 1 show Undisputed with Shannon Sharpe. The New York Post reported earlier this year that ESPN tried to reunite Stephen A. with Skip as he was looking to re-up with FS1. Bayless reportedly inked a four-year, $32 million contract to remain with ESPN’s competitor.
Smith meanwhile, signed a reported five-year deal worth $60 million to stay with ESPN in late 2019. Similar to Skip’s contract, Stephen A. earns $8 million per year as the network’s premiere on-air talent, with an additional $4 million per year coming by way of a production agreement.