A day after Rob Neyer announced his departure from ESPN.com, news almost as chilling is provided by AllAccess.com, who reveal from Bristol fixture Stephen A. Smith is returning to the network and will host evening radio shows for their New York and Los Angeles affiliates.

“Words cannot express how excited I am to return to ESPN,” said SMITH. “The five-plus years I spent here in my previous stint were unquestionably the best years of my professional career. To have the opportunity to return to a place where I have an abundance of friends — with individuals whose contributions to my life, both professionally and personally, deserves far more credit than I can describe — simply makes my return that much more special. I’m sincerely grateful. And very, very ready. As in right now. Let’s go!”

I suppose ESPN deserves credit for not merely pandering to public opinion and hiring a radio host who isn’t universally disliked.  Smith’s been called “polarizing” but such a description implies there’s anyone left willing to stick up for him.