Max Kellerman expected to be removed from ESPN’s ‘First Take’

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It is Stephen A’s world and Max Kellerman soon won’t be part of it.

Kellerman is expected to be removed off ESPN’s “First Take,” the show in which he and Stephen A. Smith verbally battle each day, going hot take for hot take, sources confirmed.

This is not the end of the Kellerman at ESPN, as he is likely to have an increased role on ESPN Radio and potentially his own TV show, according to sources. He already does a boxing-focused program.

Front Office Sports first reported the news. ESPN declined comment.

For now, ESPN does not plan on replacing Kellerman with anyone in particular. Instead, a rotation of verbal sparring partners will likely make the short walk over each morning from another ESPN show, “Get Up,” which is located in the same Seaport studios. Molly Qerim is expected to continue to host, but Smith is the undisputed star.

Kellerman’s removal off “First Take” has been in the offing for a long time, as Smith has further cemented himself as the face of ESPN.

Smith, who signed a five-year, $60 million deal with ESPN in 2019, has often appeared disenchanted with Kellerman.

Stephen A. Smith
Randy Holmes

The feeling that Kellerman’s “First Take” days could be numbered became even more apparent a year ago, when ESPN made a run at former co-host Skip Bayless, albeit for an ESPN+ program.

Originally, ESPN Radio wanted to pair Kellerman with Keyshawn Johnson on its morning show when it shook up its entire lineup last spring. But Kellerman ended up doing a two-hour national afternoon radio program while Johnson teamed with Jay Williams and Zubin Mehenti. Mehenti has been out for much of the year due to complications from diabetes.

Alan Hahn has filled in for Mehenti, and has been positioned to potentially take over for him full-time.

Kellerman, though, is now in the mix, as he is soon expected to have his last take on “First Take.”

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