The Loop

Michael Irvin on 'First Take' is the gift that keeps on giving

October 21, 2019
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Sonny and Cher, Turner and Hooch, Batman and Robin, peanut butter and jelly—all iconic duos with complementary traits and offsetting weaknesses, sure to surf the waves of human history to come. But in recent years, each has been forced to bend the knee to an greater collaborative force, an invasive species that threatens to swallow everything in its path, devouring hearts, minds and souls alike as its rampages across the TV screens and mobile devices of America. That twin tornado, picking up cows and cultural detritus as it tears across the countryside? None other than Michael Irvin and ESPN's premier shout factory, "First Take," which have forged an unholy partnership the likes of which sports television has never seen.

It all began last fall, when Irvin joined the "First Take" crew in Dallas and proceeded to pop a couple stents over a meaningless MNF matchup with the Titans. The Internet fell head over heels for Irvin's prodigious perspiration, and a monster was born ...

Then in July, as the dog days dragged on, ESPN called in the big guns once more, enlisting Irvin for another heavyweight title bout with Stephen A. Smith. Sensing he was overmatched, Smith wisely took a dive, leaving Irvin to more or less punch himself in the face for the remainder of the segment.

Not ones to let a dead horse go unbeaten, however, on Monday, mere hours after the Cowboys' bounceback victory over the Eagles on Sunday night, the "First Take" producers called Irvin's number once more, and like carrion to a carcass, 88 materialized out of seemingly nowhere.

Midway through the audio-visual assault, Molly Qerim had to actually ask for a box of tissues on live TV to dry Irvin off. Qerim has a master's degree in broadcast journalism. Let that sink in for a minute. Meanwhile, Mr. Columbia Max Kellerman, normally not shy about taking up completely ludicrous positions he can't actually defend in the name of the almighty sound bite, is dead silent, stricken with fear of being beaten unconscious with his own Omega chronometer.

All good things eventually devolve into self-parody—go revisit "Spider-Man 3" if you don't believe us—and it appears Irvin and "First Take" have finally hit their tipping point. Unfortunately, there's no way to stop it now. This monster of our own creation no longer needs laughter or approval or retweets. It is self-sustaining, a never-ending ouroboros of blood, sweat, tears, and more sweat. Soon it will sweep us up in its vortex of idiocy and dash us upon the rocks, and when that day comes, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.