When it comes to ESPN, there are plenty of rather poor takes when it comes to the New England Patriots — especially from the “First Take” crew.

Usually, Max Kellerman takes the cake as the biggest clown in this regard, but Stephen A. Smith trotted out his own rather ridiculous stance Friday.

Talking about the ovation Josh Gordon received from Patriots fans in Thursday night’s preseason finale, Smith said he “wasn’t happy about it.”

Sounds dumb, right? Let’s take a deeper dive:

“I don’t root against Josh Gordon by any stretch of the imagination, all our prayers should be with him, we should wish him well. And I’m quite sure that’s what the fans were doing in defense of the fans’ ovation,” Smith said (and we’ll also note this is where he probably should have stopped). “But my whole point is this — and I don’t say it in a maligning and in an insulting kind of way, I’m speaking in reality — he’s an addict. It’s a challenge.

“It’s led to him having a highly unproductive professional career. … When you look at his history, and it’s all been chronicled … but chance after chance after chance after chance after chance has been given to this young man and he has messed up. Now, he has messed up because he is an addict, I understand that. But when you’re cheering him on, you’re rooting for him, but in the same breath, he has been cheered on before. How much has that helped? That’s helped him come back, it didn’t help him stay. Somehow, some way, at some point and time, tough love is required. …

“I’m not trying to be hardcore. I just think that the priority should be cheering Josh Gordon on for a better life, not cheering him on to be a football player, because he has clearly missed the boat on that. He has messed up entirely too many times for me to applaud him in a football uniform.”


How exactly did Smith want fans to react to Gordon on Thursday, with a stern, disapproving scowl?

Gordon officially was reinstated by the league and cleared to play Week 1 on Friday. He had two catches for 30 yards in the Pats’ preseason finale against the New York Giants. While Smith isn’t wrong to point out that we’ve been here before with Gordon, it seems rather ludicrous to say that cheering him on is somehow out of line.

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images