Alabama football coach Nick Saban helped welcome ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith back to the air with a special message on “First Take.” Smith had shoulder surgery after the NBA Draft in June and has mostly been off of the air since then.
Saban said in a video message for Smith, “Stephen A., we’re all happy to have you back on ‘First Take’ after your surgery and we’re pleased that you are doing well. But there is some question about how much time do you need off?”
Saban continued, “You know, I had my hip replaced and I was back to work the next day. And I realize they don’t make them the way they used to and some people just do anything to get a day off. But good luck and God bless my friend.”
Smith revealed in July that he had undergone surgery and was recovering, tweeting, “Appreciate the love I’ve been receiving from everyone who’s missed me on @FirstTake. I’m out because I’m rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Partial tear — rotator cuff AND Bicep, along with frayed Labrum, plus a Bone Spur. Aging sucks, but it is what it is. Back next month. #AllLove.”
Saban Had Hip Surgery in 2019 & Said He Was ‘Climbing the Walls’ Just Hours After Returning Home
Smith, after watching Saban’s message on “First Take,” responded, laughing, “Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. And he’s the one person in the world that I believe would do that. Have hip surgery and be back the next day. The greatest coach in the history of football as far as I’m concerned. I love that man. It was good to see him. Thank you, coach.”
The 70-year-old Crimson Tide coach had hip replacement surgery in April 2019, according to ESPN.
Saban told ESPN at the time, “I get home at 8:30 in the morning and by 3 o’clock in the afternoon, man, I was climbing the walls. I had film to watch, next year’s opponents and recruits. Miss Terry was there, and she was being a good nurse. That’s for sure. But I just can’t sit around.”
Saban added that he told his wife, “I can sit around with ice on my hip meeting with coaches as easily as I can sitting here and watching The Weather Channel all day.” Saban recently said on the Dan Patrick Show that he isn’t ready to think about retiring.
“I always think about what the heck am I going to do if I do retire. That’s the scary thought,” Saban told Patrick. “I don’t know if that’s hard for people to understand. There’s nothing that I want to do, like some people want to go to Europe or go to Scotland to play golf, and all that. I wouldn’t mind doing all that stuff, but I don’t have to quit my job to do it.”
Smith Defended Saban During a Debate With Paul Finebaum Over the Alabama Coach’s ‘Rebuilding Year’ Comments
Smith recently came to Saban’s defense during a debate with SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum about the Alabama football coach’s “rebuilding year” comments.
Saban said on WJOX’s “McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning” during an early August interview, ” “Last year, we kind of had a rebuilding year. So, we should have nine starters back on offense, nine on defense but six guys go out early for the draft, so now we have five back on offense and seven back on defense.”
Finebaum said on “First Take” on Tuesday, “I found Nick Saban’s comments almost ridiculous as Stephen A’s sport coat yesterday on his return. It’s absurd for Nick Saban, the GOAT, the Greatest of All-Time, to go down that road. He started last season, a year ago today, number one in the country. You can’t start number one and have a rebuilding year. I know what he said, and in actuality there’s a lot of truth. We know what he lost the year before. … But it’s still not a good look. … Quit talking about the past.”
Smith responded, “That’s my man right there. The greatest coach in the history of college football. OK. That’s number one. And when you are that great and you have people like Paul Finebaum scanning and digging under rocks to look for excuses to bring you down, of course you’ll find something. You’ve got to be kidding me Paul Finebaum.”