The old "Stephen A. Smith vs. Will Cain" rivalry on First Take provided ESPN's viewers with some of the most visibly confrontational and controversially insightful moments in the history of the long-running debate show. Their shouting match about Kevin Durant's refusal to accept a White House invitation from former U.S. President Donald Trump has been viewed over 3 million times. Similarly, a highly personal debate between the pair, one year later in 2016, regarding Baker Mayfield's interaction with his former head coach with the Cleveland Browns, Hue Jackson, also went viral with 1.5 million views.
Will Cain left ESPN back in 2020, but the two former on-air rivals reconnect, from time to time, on his new show, Fox News Tonight. In a recent guest appearance, Stephen A. Smith joined Will Cain for a segment about Daniel Penny (24), the ex-Marine who fatally choked out a Michael Jackson impersonator named Jordan Neely (30) while they were passengers on the F-train of the New York City submarine in Manhattan.
Cain began the session by making a case for the ex-Marine, who's currently being charged with manslaughter, stating, "I think the world needs more people like Daniel Perry to step up!"
In response, Stephen A. Smith indicated that he's still on the fence when it comes to choosing a side while also stating that Daniel Perry's skillset in combat should have provided him with a moment to loosen his grip on Jordan Neely, in order to preserve his life. The iconic co-host of First Take went on to say that he's still waiting for due diligence to play itself out before he condemns the man responsible for Neely's death.
"I don't know all the facts, so I'm not ready to convict Daniel Perry, like a lot of people, politicians and citizens have been so quick to convict this man of that," Smith said. "I think we need to hear all the evidence. He did have him in a chokehold for an excess of three minutes. That seemed a bit excessive, particularly when that he had two other people helping him [restain Jordan Neely on the subway train]. But then again, we need to know more."
"Gotta be careful playing 'Monday Morning quarterbacking, right?" Replied Will Cain, who disagreed. "You've got to be careful in a situation like this Monday morning quarterbacking. In my estimation, while I appreciate you wanting to wait for the facts, Stephen A. [Smith], I don't think that the man should have even been charged...I don't think what we see here [was] reckless, and I certainly don't think he intended to kill Neely, and then to a larger point, by even charging him you create a dissident for strong men...you dis-incentives strong men to step up and help the vulnerable."
Scroll up and skip ahead to the 1:17 mark to watch the old First Take rivals share their thoughts on who was to blame for the NYC subway murder: the ex-marine or the victim.