ESPN suspended host Stephen A. Smith for a week over remarks about domestic violence in which he suggested women should avoid doing anything to “provoke wrong actions.”
Though Smith said repeatedly that domestic abuse is never allowable, many critics accused him of blaming victims. The comments came as he and co-host Skip Bayless were discussing Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back who was suspended for two games after an incident with his then-fiancee.
“ESPN announced today that Stephen A. Smith will not appear on ‘First Take’ or ESPN Radio for the next week,” ESPN said. “He will return to ESPN next Wednesday.” The network declined any further comment.
Smith apologized Monday for his comments, calling them the “most egregious error of my career.”
“My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I was trying to say. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders. To say what I said actually said was foolish is an understatement; to say I was wrong is obvious; to apologize, to say I’m sorry, doesn’t do the matter proper justice, quite honestly. But I do sincerely apologize” he said.
“Unfortunately, I did an incredibly poor job of asserting my point of view this past Friday. For that, again, I am truly, truly sorry. Particularly to the victims of domestic abuse and my female members of my family I love, who deserve better. You all deserved a better professional and quite frankly a better man sitting on this set, in this very chair. My heartfelt apologies to each and every single one of you.”
Among the most-criticized remark was his assertion: “We keep talking about the guys… But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation.
Rice was charged with felony aggravated assault case in Atlantic City, N.J., after an altercation that left his then-fiancee (and now wife) Janay Palmer unconscious. He was accepted into a pretrial diversion program in which he avoided jail time, the Baltimore Sun reported.