As announced last September, Rihanna will make her live comeback on February 12 at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl LVII. The singer has previously called it “an entertainer’s dream” to play the event.
Rihanna shared an official teaser for her forthcoming Halftime Show last Friday (January 13).
During an appearance on US daytime talk show Sherri yesterday (January 18), ESPN sports commentator Smith said: “I don’t wanna say I’m not excited. [Rihanna’s] fantastic. That’s not where I’m going with this.
“Ladies and gentlemen, she’s a lot of things. She’s spectacular, actually. And congratulations on new momma-hood. There’s one thing she’s not: she ain’t Beyoncé.”
The latter remark was met with a series of groans from the studio audience. “Hold on,” Smith responded. “The only reason I brought up Beyoncé is because Beyoncé recently performed at the Super Bowl.”
Taking to Twitter following his Sherri interview, Smith posted a three-minute video captioned: “Apologies to Rihanna for my words, gotta be more careful!”
He said in the clip (via HipHopDX): “I just got out of [sports TV show] First Take and I saw some headline that’s circulating all over the place about my quote that Rihanna ain’t Beyoncé.
“See, I’m gonna own it. I know what y’all tryna do but I’m gonna own it because I get paid to speak for a living so I need to be more careful.”
Smith continued: “I want Rihanna to know: you’re a superstar. You’re sensational. You’re spectacular. You’re no joke. And you are a worthy person to be doing the Super Bowl Halftime Show.”
The pundit went on to say that he was just “answering a question from Sherri Shepherd”, adding: “Now I’m a Beyoncé fan. I think that Beyoncé is not only a phenomenal performer, the phenomenal performer.”
Apologies to Rihanna for my words, gotta be more careful! pic.twitter.com/RLcsaQAJ4v
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 18, 2023
Smith described Bey’s Super Bowl outings as “two of the greatest shows that I’ve ever seen”, and said that the headliners who follow have “got to measure up to that”.
“I meant it as no disrespect to Rihanna. I know she’s phenomenal,” he explained. “And she’s my sister. Nothing but love for her. But Beyoncé is my sister too! I got love for both of them.
“I just think that Beyoncé is the greatest performer out there today. That’s me! That doesn’t mean I’m hating on anybody else. That doesn’t mean I’m damn sure wishing for Rihanna to fail. I don’t believe she’s gonna fail. She’s gonna be great! I’m just saying that I’m a Beyoncé fan. That’s all. That’s it.”
Smith concluded the video by apologising to Rihanna once again: “Good luck sweetie. Looking forward to seeing you perform at halftime during the Super Bowl. You know you gotta turn it out. And I believe you will! All the best to you.”
You can watch the full clip in the tweet above.
Rihanna was offered the chance to headline the 2019 Halftime Show. However, she turned the opportunity down in a bid to show solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was the first NFL player to take a knee in protest against police brutality in 2016.
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