However you grade the ESPN crew as journalists, they seem to lose their unbiased nature whenever true celebrities are in attendance. Rapper Lil Wayne, who came by Bristol a few years back to show down with cantankerous host Skip Bayless on a number of mostly college football-related sports topics on debate program 1st & Ten, swung by the studios again today while in town for the I Am Still Music tour. As with his first visit, the normally caustic and obnoxious Bayless suddenly turned into the most reverential, well-mannered TV pundit in the biz, even literally bowing down to Weezy at one point.
The morning started out with Bayless handing out the "Skippies," or his versions of the ESPY awards. When his award for toughest debate partner went to frequent dueler Jemele Hill, Wayne come out of nowhere to protest the trophy not going to him. A stunned Skip gushingly changed the award recipient to Weezy, and as previously mentioned, bowed to him in worship. Weezy hung around to debate the second-town topics on 1st & Ten, including the recent failures of golfer Rory McIlroy and the drama between Steeler linebacker James Harrison and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Once again, the rapper—never known for his ability to speak at length on a given topic, undistracted—offered little of substance, mostly reiterating what his co-debaters had already said and getting helped out with a lot of "So what you're saying is..." or "Would you say, then, that..." type leads from Bayless and moderator Jay Crawford. Still, Weezy got treated as if he was the Atticus Finch of ESPN2, all involved continuing to acquiesce to his imagined expertise. They even afforded him the opportunity to shout out the upcoming release of Tha Carter IV, as well as recently-released mixtape Sorry for the Wait—which Skip may have even listend to, since he asked Wayne about his reference to Jimmer Fredette on "Sure Thing." (By the way, Tunechi, give TJ a guest spot next time!)
Ultimately, this gushing way of handicapping Lil Wayne's ESPN appearances just comes off as fanboyish and a little bit patronizing. It'd be much more respectful, in our opinion, if Skip just laid into Weezy the way he rails every other debate partner he has on the show, mocking mercilessly his indecisive points, hesitant pauses, poor grammar and inappropriate studio attire. Sure, he might not come back to the studio again afterwards, and might even caution all his celeb friends to do likewise. But in the end, there would be integrity. Isn't that what we're all after, really?
For lots more pics, videos and up-to-the-second dish on Wayne, be sure to check out his Popdust Artist Page.