On Tuesday, ESPN suspended its bombastic pundit Stephen A. Smith for a week for suggesting that women should not provoke men into beating them.
“Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week. He will return to ESPN next Wednesday,” the network said in a statement. Smith said he accepted ESPN’s decision and looked forward to seeing his fans next Wednesday.
While discussing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s two-game suspension for domestic violence on last Friday’s “First Take,” Smith, after repeatedly emphasizing that a man should never hit a woman and that it was never acceptable to do so, said:
Michelle Beadle, his colleague, immediately called him out after the show. Beadle, who was in an abusive relationship, Tweeted that she would never feel clean again after hearing Smith’s rant and said she did not realize she could provoke her own beating. Smith apologized twice on Twitter later in the day and then again on Monday’s episode of the show.
“On Friday, speaking right here on First Take on the subject of domestic violence, I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career,” Smith said on Monday’s show. “While elaborating on thoughts concerning the NFL’s ruling versus 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.
“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 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.”
As TheBigLead noted, Smith has previously made controversial remarks concerning domestic violence in interviews with Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and woman-beater Floyd Mayweather.