Three days after his controversial statements about Ray Rice and domestic violence, Stephen A. Smith was back on ESPN2, delivering a three-minute apology at the start of his show “First Take.”
“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 in a taped segment at the top of the show, referencing his comments that appeared to suggest women can provoke men into domestic violence.
“My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault,” he said. “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.”
He apologized to victims of domestic abuse, as well as his mother and sisters. “You deserved a better man last Friday,” he said.
After Smith finished, the show’s host Cari Champion accepted Smith’s apology, then, went on to talk briefly about his use of trigger words such as “provoke.” But, before any debate could ensue, the show cut to a live discussion about their first topic – LeBron James’ decision to wear #23 in Cleveland.
Minutes after Smith’s apology aired, ESPN released a statement saying the analyst wouldn’t be suspended.
“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,” the statement read. “As his apology demonstrates, he recognizes his mistakes and has a deeper appreciation of our company values.”