Stephen A. Smith opened ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday with an apology for comments he made last week in the wake of Ray Rice’s two-game suspension from the NFL, suggesting that women are to blame for domestic violence against them.
Smith sounded some of the same points he made in attempts at clarification on Twitter on Friday after he was blasted by ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle for saying of the Rice case that “we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation.”
On Monday, Smith said, “I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career” in the nearly 2-minute segment, which was followed by brief comments from Cari Champion before it segued into busniess-as-usual conversation about LeBron James, Johnny Manziel and other topics with Skip Bayless.
Smith said he “ventured beyond the scope of our discussion [on the Rice suspension] 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 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. But I do sincerely apologize.”
Smith also apologized to his mother, female family members “who know I know better,” and victims of domestic violence, concluding that “you all deserved a better professional and quite frankly a better man last Friday sitting here on this very set, in this very chair. My heartfelt apologies to each and every single one of you.”
ESPN, in a statement Monday, said:
“We will continue to have constructive dialogue on this important topic. Stephen’s comment 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.”