ESPN “First Take” host Stephen A. Smith apologized Monday for comments he made last week regarding women following the NFL’s suspension of Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice.
Referring to the two-game suspension Rice received for an offseason domestic violence incident involving wife Janay Palmer, Smith said women should avoid “elements of provocation” that could cause such altercations. Smith issued an apology Monday and admitted his comments were inappropriate.
“I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career. While elaborating on thoughts concerning the NFL’s ruling on Ray Rice following a domestic dispute with his then-fiancee, I ventured beyond the scope of our discussion by alluding to a woman’s role in such heinous matters, going so far as to use the word ‘provoke’ in my diatribe,” Smith said. "My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It was not what I was trying to say.”
“Yet, the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders. To say what I 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 its proper justice, to be quite honest,” Smith added. “But I do sincerely apologize.”
During his July 25 diatribe, Smith condemned the use of physical violence in any form against women, but he insinuated Palmer may have done something to provoke an assault.
“What I've tried to [emphasize to] the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I've done this all my life, let's make sure we don't do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it's law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn't negate the fact that they already put their hands on you,” Smith said at the time.
“In Ray Rice's case, he probably deserves more than a two-game suspension, which we both acknowledged. But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation.”
Smith took to Twitter after the show to defend his comments, but countless individuals, including ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle, were highly critical of his opinion. “So I was just forced to watch this morning's First Take. A) I'll never feel clean again B) I'm now aware that I can provoke my own beating,” Beadle wrote.