Co-host Hugh Douglas has been conspicuously absent from Numbers Never Lie for the first two days of this week. Normally this wouldn't be newsworthy, but given the gossip from The Big Lead and Deadspin involves a drunken Douglas threatening fellow co-host Michael Smith last week and hurling racial slurs at him that changes things.
In what is a hugely embarrassing situation for everyone involved, Douglas reportedly threatened Michael Smith at a National Association of Black Journalists in Orlando on Friday. Via The Big Lead...
"Douglas, who appears on Numbers Never Lie on ESPN with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, was trying to get on stage where the DJ was playing, and threatened to beat up Smith if he couldn’t help out. After the third threat, Smith tried to walk away, at which point Douglas grabbed Smith’s wrist and hurled two racial epithets at him, calling him an “Uncle Tom” and a “House N—-.” Smith, the witness says, turned around to protect himself, at which point onlookers rushed in to break it up."
Could there be something more though to this confrontation? Since switching from its analytical format to a debate format, the show has lacked stability. First Smith moderated debates between Douglas and Jalen Rose as the ex-jock version of Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. Then Rose left and Hill joined the show and suddenly Douglas was the sore thumb. Here's more background from Deadspin...
"Two people told us that Douglas was drunk. Not tipsy. Wasted. We've also been told that Douglas has felt uncomfortable ever since Hill's addition to the show a few months back. Smith and Hill, after all, are old friends, and the show was now two journalists plus an ex-jock, with some loose talk that new hire Nate Silver might have some role on the show, too. A source speculates that Douglas, outnumbered by non-jocks, felt left out."
Yikes. This is going to make for some great reading in the next edition of Those Guys Have All The Fun.
There's ugly situations that arise from time to time between people who work together that can be smoothed over and then there's situations that are just untenable. This has to fall in the latter category. Forget Numbers Never Lie, that has to be out of the equation (at least a sensible person would think), right now I have to imagine Douglas' future at ESPN is in doubt on the whole.
ESPN has held on for dear life and stood by employees against all common sense (see James, Craig) but what kind of message would it send to bring Douglas back on air after this episode? Given the sensitivity of the situation and the recent sports headlines regarding racial slurs and Douglas' ESPN future does not seem very bright.
I always wondered when ESPN's mantra of "Embrace Debate" would finally result in fisticuffs. It was only a matter of time.
I wonder why this isn't breaking news on ESPN, they played the hell out of the controversy in philly. I guess if a brotha use the N word on another brotha, it just isn't breaking news worthy. ESPN needs to keep it real, or at least try. I'm out !
Imagine that - a show that has the word "numbers" in its title bringing in a numbers guy like Silver. It's almost like they're trying to bring it back to the way it was when it debuted, before it turned into a shittier version [if possible] of First Take.
Get rid of Douglas. Honestly, I was saying that before this whole episode, but if a dumb jock feels so insecure without other dumb jocks around, maybe he should try to buy his way onto the NFL Countdown crew. What a joke.
Douglas isn't exactly an elite broadcaster anyway. ESPN has an endless supply of talking head NFL players.
"Douglas was drunk." "calling him an “Uncle Tom” and a “House N—-.”
Wow. I'm guessing, since I don't watch, that ESPN is covering this story with the same virility as the Cooper Riley story.
I was listening to the Michael Smith-Jemele Hill podcast yesterday, and they pretty much danced around the topic without mentioning Douglas by name.
I love AwfulAnnouncing... I listen to all the podcast, share the articles, everything... I also love some aspects of ESPN, which AA is shamelessly trying to degrade... I love the original premise of NNL and I love it's new format... maybe there's just too much love in me... but I also love Big Hugh and M. Smith... I think their niche in broadcast journalism is much-needed and well overdue... I'm thankful for them and I believe in them, despite this new tension... I believe they will overcome this thing because they both have good hearts... on His & Hers the other day, Smith got pissed but STILL made a great case for forgiveness... I really don't like the connotations throughout this piece or throughout any piece that's been done on these guys or this show over the last couple days... these are human beings... why are we getting off on their "feud"? because they're from big, evil ESPN? because they're not the show we want to see? I love these guys, I'm praying for these guys, and I hope they overcome the invasiveness of media trolling
It would be an improvement for ESPN if they let Douglas go. He's a regular on Coach & Company on ESPN radio and he's a disaster.
He's a classic example of a guy who thinks he can talk about sports simply because he played sports. He's unable to offer any analysis or clear arguments.
Man, this is disappointing I have always had respect for Hugh Douglas and I can't believe this situation. However, everybody makes mistakes and personally I think the show is a lot better with a former NFL player that actually has experience on the field. I think it's kind of entertaining watching hugh on NNL, I also think it would be a mistake to permanettly get rid of him, but if he doesn't come back to NNL hopefully he can still have somewhat of a career on espn. If he doesn't come back, however, I would understand considering the circumstances of the situation