During his ESPN career on First Take, Stephen A. Smith has gone off on plenty of people. The veteran sports personality is never afraid to speak his mind and call out folks who say outrageous things, even if they are former sports stars.
Four-time Super Bowl champion Bill Romanowski learned this first-hand in 2012.
Bill Romanowski said Peyton Manning fell behind on purpose in 2012
During the 2012 season, Peyton Manning played in his first campaign with the Denver Broncos after missing the entire 2011 season with a neck injury while he was still on the Indianapolis Colts. The Hall of Famer won the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year Award and led the Broncos to a 13-3 record.
While the 2012 season was going on, Bill Romanowski went on First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless and said Manning was putting the Broncos in a hole on purpose so he could lead them to comeback wins. Denver won several games in 2012 in comeback fashion, and Romanowski believed that Manning was deliberately doing it to prove to everyone he was fully back.
Manning finished the 2012 season with 4,659 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. It was incredible to watch the five-time MVP play like a superstar after undergoing multiple neck surgeries in 2011.
However, Stephen A. Smith wasn’t buying Bill Romanowski’s take and was both shocked and speechless when he heard the former linebacker speak.
Stephen A. Smith to Bill Romanowski: ‘I just don’t get this stuff that you are saying’
While Bill Romanowski was talking about how Peyton Manning was putting the Broncos in a deficit on purpose, Stephen A. Smith looked down and had his hand over his eyes. The energetic ESPN star couldn’t believe what he was hearing from Romanowski, one of the top defenders in NFL history.
After Romanowski spoke and it was Smith’s turn to talk, Stephen A–still in shock–responded.
“I just have a question before I say anything else,” Smith said. “If he (Peyton Manning) doesn’t know he’s doing it (putting the Broncos in a hole), how the hell do you know? I don’t understand. I’m at a loss. I just don’t get this stuff that you are saying!
“Peyton Manning subconsciously puts the Denver Broncos in a deficit so he can come back even though he missed the whole last season with four neck surgeries? Isn’t that enough of a comeback? He has to add to that by being in a deficit to validate his greatness? I’m at a loss for words. I really am. I just don’t know what to say.”
This was one of the funniest moments Smith has had on First Take. He was in complete disbelief that a former NFL star was accusing another player of falling behind on purpose so that he could come back in the game.
Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl during the 2015 season, though he didn’t play well. Denver defeated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Manning retired after the game.
As for Stephen A. Smith and Bill Romanowski, they are still friends to this day. However, no NFL fan will ever forget their interaction on First Take in 2012.
Peyton is an NFL icon
With the Colts and Broncos, Peyton Manning threw 539 touchdowns and racked up 71,940 passing yards in the regular season. He made 14 Pro Bowls, won five regular-season MVPs, and captured two Super Bowls.
Manning is regarded as one of the five greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021 and got his No. 18 jersey retired by the Colts.
Stats courtesy of Football Reference.