NEW YORK – APRIL 21: Former ESPN radio’s, Steven A. Smith attends ESPN the Magazine’s 7th Annual Pre-Draft Party at Espace on April 21, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Getty Images for ESPN)

BRISTOL, CT – ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith slurped down a bowl of beef barley soup with a huge loogie in it today, marking the 427th consecutive time he has eaten food at the on-campus ESPN Cafe that has been garnished by sit from a fellow ESPN employee.

“Oh, look at him. He’s eating every drop. He loves it,” said Cafe worker James Wright, getting high-fives from fellow staffers as they observed the First Take talker devour his soup across the room. “That man can’t get enough spit!”

Wright, other Cafe staffers and dozens of ESPN producers, writers and on-camera talent have made it a running tradition for well over a year now to always spit into the food of the man many blame for ruining the network’s reputation — and whose massive salary could have paid for dozens of employees ESPN just laid off.

“It was always my dream to work at ESPN,” said one prominent SportsCenter anchor who asked not to be named because she frequently takes part in the desecration of Smith’s meals. “But I never suspected that the best part of the job would be coming into the ESPN Cafe for lunch every day and watching Stephen A. Smith eat food full of spit every day. It really is great, though.”

The process of topping Smith’s lunch each day is an intricate and collaborative effort that features many moving parts.

“For those who aren’t familiar with the ESPN Cafe, it’s not a restaurant where you order and the food is brought out to you,” said a radio show host. “It’s like a cafeteria where you go up and ask for what you want, so to get spit in his food, it’s all about distraction. We work together, getting his attention, talking to him, making him think people like him and respect him and that he has friends. And right when he looks away — WHAM! — in goes the spit.”

Once late last year Smith got all the way to the checkout line without any spit in his food, but the woman working the register knocked his tray out of his hands after getting panicked glances from co-workers.

“That was a close call, but we all came together and got it done,” said a network producer. “That’s the kind of stuff that makes me so proud to work here. Even with all we’ve been through lately, we still come together and accomplish what’s important.”

But while the vast majority of ESPN employees are fully behind the practice of spitting in Smith’s food, others think it should stop.

“Stephen has eaten so much spit from random people that his immune system is unbeatable,” said a prominent reporter. “So he never gets sick and comes to work every day and is always on all of our platforms. That has to stop.”