Stephen A. Smith apologized Monday morning for his comments made last Friday concerning domestic violence, a topic that has overtaken the sports media since late last week.
Opening ESPN2's morning debate show First Take, Smith said "While elaborating on thoughts concerning the NFL's ruling vs Ray Rice, following a domestic dispute with his then-fiancé, I ventured beyond the scope of our discussion by alluding to a women's role in such heinous matters, going as for as to use the word 'provoke' in my diatribe."
Smith was slammed nearly everywhere — including on Twitter by his ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle — Friday morning after he appeared to insinuate that women bear at least some responsibility for “provoking” the domestic violence.
"This was not my intent," continued Smith on Monday. "It was not what I was trying to say. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders."
After Smith finished talking, First Take host Cari Champion briefly spoke on the issue of domestic violence and the NFL's lack of discipline on Ray Rice, which started the media firestorm last Thursday.
"The NFL in my opinion missed a huge opportunity: An opportunity to say 'we will not stand for domestic violence.' Two games is not enough; not enough for me," said Champion. "There should be more; an explanation along with the ruling as to why they were only able to give two games."
ESPN also released an official statement Monday: "We will continue to have constructive dialogue on this important topic. Stephen's comments last Friday do not reflect our company's point of view. As his apology demonstrates, he recognizes his mistakes and has a deeper appreciation of our company values.”
Smith's full statement is below:
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. While elaborating on thoughts concerning the NFL's ruling vs Ray Rice, following a domestic dispute with his then-fiancé, I ventured beyond the scope of our discussion by alluding to a women's role in such heinous matters, going as for as to use the word 'provoke' in my diatribe. My words came across that it is somehow a women'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 is foolish is an understatement. To say that I was wrong is obvious. To apologize, to say I was sorry doesn't do the matter its proper justice, to be quite honest. But I do sincerely apologize.
As a man raised by the greatest mother in the world and four older sisters, I've religiously spoken out against domestic violence all of my life. I've done so repeatedly over 20 years in the business as well as these very airwaves right here on First Take. My primary reason for doing so is because I've experienced and dealt with the matter in my own family. 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 victims of domestic abuse and to my female members of my family and loved ones that I've disappointed and who know I know better. You all deserved a better professional, and quite frankly a better man last Friday sitting on this very set and this very chair. My heartfelt apologies to every one of you.