Stephen A. Smith came to the defense of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones amid a photo surfacing of the outspoken owner who was around 14 when he was photographed at a 1957 desegregation protest in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

“I’m pretty pissed off,” Smith said during First Take on Friday. “I’m pissed off but not for reasons people think. I am very, very fond of Jerry Jones, and I’m not hiding that from anybody. Is his record perfect? No, but I’m pissed off because he doesn’t deserve what just happened. He doesn’t deserve it. One report, our report, said he was 14 years old. Another report said he was 15 years old. At minimum that’s 65 years ago.”

Smith continued, “You gonna bring up a photo of Jerry Jones standing at this protest, no question what was happening, it’s not something that anybody as a Black person should be appreciative about,” he continued. “We had six students at that particular North Little Rock high school, that was trying to desegregate the school. Nobody should be okay with that, we understand that, we get all of that. … Racism is a live and well, bigotry and prejudice is alive and well. We get all of that, but you gonna bring up a photo of him when he was 14, 15 years old? 65 or 66 years ago.”

He added, “By the way, I don’t have a problem with a photo. If he was 30, 35, 40 years old, that’s different. 14, 15 years old…We’re gonna lean on somebody was he was 14, born and raised in the south? And we gonna pick it up 66 years later, to say, ‘You know something, you ain’t hire a Black coach.’ I think that’s pretty low. … If he were an adult, that would be different.”