Another ESPN employee was suspended today, not for saying things that can be interpreted as defending Ray Rice, but for saying things that are definitely very critical of NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell.
ESPN commentator and Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons went off on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during his podcast Tuesday, lambasting the commissioner for claiming not to have known what the Ray Rice tape contained:
Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar. I’m just saying it. He is lying. I think that dude is lying. If you put him up on a lie detector test that guy would fail. For all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such fucking bullshit. It really is — it’s such fucking bullshit. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted. I really was.
That rant caused ESPN to issue the following statement;
Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards. We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.
Following his statement about domestic abuse, a statement that spawned controversy nationwide, ESPN formally took steps to distance itself from Smith… at least for one week.
The company announced Smith’s suspension on Tuesday saying, “Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week. He will return to ESPN next Wednesday.”
If it wasn’t already so, on Friday, Stephen A. Smith became a household name.
Not because of his days as a professional basketball player, or because of his previous commentary on ESPN, but for the specific comments he made on Friday about domestic abuse.
After numerous failed Twitter attempts to put the matter behind him, Smith used his Monday morning platform at ESPN to issue an apology.
“My words came across it is somehow a woman’s fault. This is 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 said was foolish is an understatement. To say I was wrong is obvious. To apologize, to say I’m sorry doesn’t do the proper justice. But I do sincerely apologize.”
And he included his family members in the apology, indicating that they felt some disappointment in his original comments.
“Particularly to the victims of domestic abuse and to my family members and loved ones I’ve disappointed, and who know I know better, you all deserved a better professional and quite frankly a very man sitting on this set in this very chair. My heartfelt apologies to each and every single one of you.”
Will this apology end the uproar? Will Smith be allowed to return to the normal routine of being an ESPN sports commentator?
Watch this space.
I’m sure he would zip his lip if this opportunity presents itself again, but the damage is already done and Stephen A. Smith is in a bowl of hot water over comments he made about domestic abuse.
For those who haven’t heard, Smith’s conclusion on the matter was basically this: He is against domestic abuse, but he is not going to blame the man alone. He thinks the woman has some responsibility in preventing her own abuse.
Smith of ESPN Sports and his co-host Skip Bayless, were discussing the events surrounding the NFL’s 2 game suspension of Ray Rice. Rice was caught on camera knocking out his significant other, and so, Smith’s discussion of the matter began. But the part of Smith’s take that is causing waves nationwide is where he said, “it’s not about him, then. It’s about you,” referring to the woman being abused.
Here’s the full transcript of Smith’s reasoning;
It’s not about him, then. It’s about you, and here’s what I mean by that.
We keep talking about the guys. We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I got to reiterate that. But as a man who was raised by women, see I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do, I know what my boys are going to do. I know what, I’m going to have to remind myself that I work for the Worldwide Leader, I’m going to have to get law enforcement officials involved because of what I’m going to be tempted to do. But what I’ve tried to employ 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. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen.
Now you got some dudes that are just horrible and they’re going to do it anyway, and there’s never an excuse to put your hands on a woman. But domestic violence or whatever the case may be, with men putting their hands on women, is obviously a very real, real issue in our society. And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen.
We know they’re wrong. We know they’re criminals. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a 2-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. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying. No point of blame.
After the backlash started, Smith went on twitter to try and clarify his words, even saying he was sorry for the misunderstanding. But the damage was already done. Trying to calm the storm, Smith said;
Upon hearing what I had to say, although admitting I could have been more articulate on the matter, let me be clear: I don’t understand how on earth someone could interpret that I somehow was saying women are to blame for domestic violence.
But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong being done upon them? In no way was accusing a women of being wrong. I was simply saying that preventative measures always need to be addressed because there’s only but so much that can be done after the fact, once he damage is already done.