First Take responding to criticism from Derek Carr.

It’s not new to see athletes respond to pundits‘ criticisms, but it’s a bit unusual to see an athlete not only challenge pundits to a fight, but tweet the president of the UFC in an attempt to set up that fight. That’s what Oakland Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr did this week after Max Kellerman dropped some criticisms of him on a First Take segment about if the Raiders should draft Kyler Murray. Here’s the initial First Take clip from Wednesday, including Kellerman saying “Carr didn’t want it” and “Gruden knows they have to move on”:

Someone tweeted at Carr about these criticisms (albeit without the actual clip, which is probably why he went at First Take co-host Stephen A. Smith, who didn’t actually say anything against Carr in this segment, as well as Kellerman), and Carr had quite the response:

He then tweeted at the UFC and White to “challenge a couple of these clowns on TV to a fight”:

In a follow-up tweet, Carr made it clear he was particularly upset at Kellerman’s implication he wasn’t trying:

The problem with tweeting at takey pundits like Smith and Kellerman is that your response often just becomes more fodder for them, though, and both of them went into this further on First Take Thursday:

And yeah, Stephen, “Carr didn’t want it” is calling him a quitter. But sure. And sure, Max, your job is to express your opinions, but expressing the opinion that a professional athlete has quit on his team without providing supporting evidence is a pretty bold move, and one that’s going to get you some blowback. Also, Smith may not have criticized Carr in the initial clip, but he sure did in subsequent tweets:

And in a radio show clip:

Thursday also saw online betting site Bovada release odds for a potential Smith-Carr fight, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter dutifully reported:

And yes, as Smith noted, those odds are very, very favorable to him:

At any rate, this all adds up to another odd media saga. It’s understandable why Carr is upset, especially with Kellerman’s implication that he wasn’t trying, and it’s hard to say that he shouldn’t respond to that. And he’s certainly not wrong to call the First Take pundits clowns; that’s what they are, with their regular practice of saying ridiculous things in hopes of keeping viewers tuned in and their lack of emphasis on actually analyzing the league. If you’re looking for serious NFL analysis, you’re probably not watching a show where the pundits talk about Hunter Henry-Derrick Johnson matchups, confuse Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara, or proclaimed in 2016 that Tom Brady was about to “fall off a cliff.” (How’s that one holding up, Max?)

But the particular way Carr responded here wasn’t necessarily the best look, and “I can beat you up” certainly doesn’t prove anything. And beyond that, his response only provided more fodder for Kellerman and Smith’s hot takery, whereas just ignoring this probably would have ended its news cycle. But while it won’t ever happen, it certainly would be amusing to see Stephen A. or Kellerman get in a ring or an octagon with one of the players they criticize so casually, and it would definitely sell a lot of PPV buys. At the very least, that might make them think a little more before implying that an athlete “didn’t want it.” It seems more likely that this won’t change anything for them, though; getting an athlete to respond to their hot take bait just gets them more attention, and more things that they can talk about on the next show.

[ESPN on YouTube]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.