Stephen A. Smith is paid for his opinions, but this time, the ESPN host definitely put his foot in his mouth.
The First Take host has been suspended by the network over the controversial comments he made concerning domestic abuse on Friday’s episode. Smith was talking about Ray Rice’s two-game suspension in the wake of an alleged domestic abuse incident and said that Rice’s then fiancee Janay Palmer could have stopped the attack.
“What I’ve tried to employ [with] the female members of my family — some of who you all met and talked to and what have you — is that… let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come — or somebody else comes, 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,” he said.
When the network was immediately and appropriately swarmed with feedback and criticism from its viewing audience, Smith offered an on-air apology on Monday’s episode.
“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. “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.”
It wasn’t enough and Smith has been suspended until August 6.
“We’ve said publicly and in this space that those remarks did not reflect our company’s point of view, or our values,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “They certainly don’t reflect my personal beliefs.”