CANTON, OHIO – ESPN’s signature morning debate show “First Take” – featuring Stephen A. Smith and host Molly Qerim – will travel to Canton for a live broadcast Friday, Sept. 2, in conjunction with the 2022 Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic weekend.
The annual showcase, which features a four-day schedule of events over Labor Day weekend, culminates Sunday, Sept. 4, when the Central State University Marauders meet Smith’s alma mater, the Winston-Salem State University Rams, in the 2022 Classic at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Classic Weekend is filled with exhilarating fun, tailgating, music and other entertainment to showcase the Black College Football Hall of Fame, which was founded in 2009 by two legendary NFL quarterbacks and African American pioneers, James Harris and Doug Williams, to preserve and share the history and stories of the greatest HBCU football players, coaches and contributors. The Black College Football Hall of Fame is housed inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Smith and Qerim will air live from the “First Take” set at Tom Benson Stadium from 10 a.m. to noon ET.
Williams, the Black College Football Hall of Fame’s co-founder and a member of Washington’s Super Bowl championship team in 1987, will join the show as a special guest alongside Smith and Qerim. The show also will feature performances by both schools’ bands, the Central State Invincible Marching Marauders and the Winston-Salem State Red Sea of Sound.
“This appearance by ‘First Take’ has been a long time in the making,” Smith said. “As a graduate from an HBCU — Winston-Salem State University — there are no limits to the level of appreciation I have for Black colleges throughout this nation. And there’s nothing that highlights the allure of Black colleges more than football.
“From the marching bands to the games themselves, Black college football illuminates the Black college experience in ways that nothing else does. ‘First Take’ is honored to play a role in bringing that message to its national television audience. We can’t wait to get there! See ya in Canton!” he said.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Black College Football Hall of Fame are honored to host the “First Take” team in conjunction with this year’s Classic,” said Adrian Allison, Chief Relationship Officer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “Stephen A. Smith brings a fun, spirited energy to the show every day, but there will be a special level of excitement throughout this broadcast with his alma mater in Canton. We encourage fans of the show and fans of college football to be part of this great atmosphere.
Doors open to fans at 8:30 a.m. ET. Spectators who want to be part of the show should park at Lot A – located at 1776 Clarendon Ave. NW, Canton, 44708 – and enter the stadium through the Symphony Gate.
Security Best Practices will be in effect, thus all guests will be cleared via a walk-through magnetometer. The Clear Bag Policy also will be in effect. (Clear bag no larger than a one-gallon storage bag, purses no larger than a clutch purse, no duffle bags, no backpacks, etc.) For a comprehensive list of what items are allowed and what are prohibited, click here.
“First Take’s” trip to Canton adds to its road trip that began today in Dallas. ESPN soon will announce more on-site shows featuring special guests, live audiences and fan interaction.