Wednesday editions of First Take have gotten far more interesting as ESPN announced earlier this month that Chris "Mad Dog" Russo will be taking the podium to argue against Stephen A. Smith every week starting in March. The SiriusXM host came on the show in January to debate Barry Bonds' Hall of Fame status, an experiment that all the viewers loved and ESPN recognized was an explosive combination.
That brings us to today, when Mad Dog returned for his second First Take appearance. What he and Stephen A. talk about will be indicative of how ESPN plans to handle segments featuring the pair over the next few months. All we know for sure is that the volume on the television should be a few clicks lower than normal.
Russo joined Stephen A. at the top of the hour, right as First Take began, and got off to a hot start. He and Smith teed off on the James Harden trade and whether the former MVP was capable of elevating the Sixers come playoff time. It quickly devolved into borderline incomprehensible yelling, yet remained great television.
Afterwards, Molly Querim Rose brought up Stephen A.'s favorite topic-- the Dallas Cowboys. They discussed Dak Prescott's place in the QB hierarchy around the league. Russo questioned if Prescott was a top-10 quarterback in the NFL and was then asked to give his own top 10 and he said he could name nine, causing a commotion on set. Stephen A. nearly lost his mind when Mad Dog asked with complete seriousness if Prescott was better than Kirk Cousins.
As long as you don't mind the volume, it's great debate. Stephen A. and Mad Dog know how to come across as exceptionally passionate about whatever the subject matter is, even if it feels impossible to be as passionate as they are about that subject. There is arguably nobody better on earth at doing that than these two gentlemen.
The best part about all this might be the facial expressions. They are very emotive individuals. They react in real time to what the other is saying through a stunningly wide variety of shocked looks. ESPN has got something here.