ESPN Suspends Stephen A. Smith One Week for Ray Rice Comments

Stephen A Smith Suspension Highlights Bigger
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

ESPN said it would remove Stephen A. Smith from  programming for about a week in the wake of controversial remarks the popular host made about women and domestic violence.

Stephen A. Smith Suspension Exposes ESPN’s Bigger Problem

Smith, who co-hosts “First Take” on ESPN2, drew notice last Friday when, during a discussion of the NFL’s two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice over allegations he beat his fiancée. Smith suggested that victims of abuse might also be responsible for provoking it. “In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a two-game suspension, which we both acknowledged,” he said. “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.”

The remarks drew the ire of ESPN personality and host Michelle Beadle, who took to Twitter to voice her concern about what Smith had said.  Beadle’s tweets illustrate the divisive nature of the Smith remarks, as it is likely rare for one ESPN host to take on another in a social-media venue.

“ESPN announced today that Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week.  He will return to ESPN next Wednesday,” the Walt Disney-owned outlet said in a statement.



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  1. EhteoG says:

    So why does ESPN bother having an opinion show if they don’t want to hear opinions? If ESPN is going to be suspend happy then Michelle Beadle should have been suspended for advocating women assaulting men. Also it’s funny how ESPN ignored how Jennifer Caperatti(sp?) got away with domestic violence and how Hope Solo violence against her nephew is hardly covered by them.

    • bruce montgomery says:

      Stephen A. Smith seemed to be suggesting that wife beaters et al, are some how less cupable because women can provoke their man into a nice left-right combination to the head and must therefore be held accountable as provocateurs. Of course we can have opinions on the issue of the day, but frankly, like anything else, shoot your mouth off but be ready for the consequences. The first amendment to the Constitution allows you to run your mouth….it doesn’t guarantee that your not gonna get smacked down for it.

  2. Goethe says:

    Women have weakness- the need for attention, the need for love, the need for sincerity and the need for communication. There are several ways to ‘retaliate’ following a woman’s verbal or even physical abuse without striking her. E.g suppose he said well- you are not coming to any of my games for a year or no vacation for you this year or forget the new car. Sometimes not talking to a woman for a day or 2 is enough. My favorite is reporting a woman to the ppl she respects- parents, pastor and ppl at her place of work. Jay Z for instance could say to Solange that’s the last time Beyonce and I are taking you anywhere. A lot more hurtful than striking a woman IMO.

    • EhteoG says:

      I get what you are trying to say, but you are under the assumption that emotions are rational. Yes Jay-Z was able to control himself, but everyone is not Jay-Z. It’s human nature to want to strike back at something that attacks you. In an ideal world everyone could control their anger, but look at cops..trained professional and even they lose their cool.

      • bruce montgomery says:

        I don’t know from what country you come, but in the United States boys are raised early on to not beat up their sisters…that girls can be nutso but you don’t under any circumstances beat a girl up. Smith’s apology is bullshit..let his mouth write a check his ass can’t cash. The proof that his apology is BS is Smith’s bitch boy relationship with Floyd Mayweather, who served 90 days in jail for domestic violence and is on record for other abhorent behavior. There’s not one aspect of life surrounding Mayweather that bitch boy Smith won’t jump to his defense or do his little smirk and shrug of the shoulder while he’s thinking the brotha has 400 mil in the bank, that makes him Aok with me. Couple of digusting thugs.

  3. There is some truth to what he is saying. I respect him for saying that. That is why there is therapy for two people not one.

  4. Bgood2life says:

    Stephen A ,do you remember Rob Parker,your former colleague ESPN initially suspended for announcing on air, that customers at the barbershop he patronized called RG3, a Cornball Brother. At that time,neither you are your brother from another,Skip Bayless,gave Parker public support. With that being said,Smith should look at his situation,as one of life’s lesson. By all means,don’t forget what goes around,comes around,especially to a Black Man.

  5. Bgood2life says:

    Stephen A Smith,lucky for you,Ms. Michelle Beadle did not give ESPN an ultimatum,either give him his walking papers,or take the risk of having you file a lawsuit against the station, for indirectly forcing her to work with a public figure,who has a bias attitude or outlook toward women.

    • This man says:

      What the hell are you talking about? Beadle is one of the most insensitive people on that network. And double standards on domestic abuse must stop. It shouldn’t matter who hit who. And he said nothing bad, it’s the sensitivity level of society.

  6. chris says:

    Screw you ESPN, I’m done watching the weak as channel. You get bought by Disney and now you want to control every word and thought your reports utter that may offend anyone? Done. I’m tell you what… the nonstop coverage of lebron offended me . Who do I sue? And that looser beadle, if you can’t handle these comments get off ESPN and go join the view, or Martha Stuart. Why do we continue to wussafy American sports. In going to go play video games or something and so watching all of it

  7. Emma says:

    I think suspending him was ridiculous and stupid! If they are going to suspend him, then why in the heck wasn’t that objectionable Whoopie Goldberg on The view suspended??? She said that she totally agrees that if a woman “puts herself in a man’s place” she sees nothing wrong with the man hitting the woman???

    • Kitten says:

      Stephen A is a “commentator”. He said NOTHING wrong. Because it is a delicate situation, some people are sensitive. I support his statements 100% and I am a woman. A man should Never hit a woman, however, there are women who provoke arguments.

  8. Scott says:

    I don’t think you understand the concept of free speech. The 1st amendment has absolutely zero to do with a private organization suspending an employee for saying something completely inappropriate.

  9. Marie says:

    one week really!!! whAt goes on @ his house behind closed doors not enough apology in the world i wonder if he’s married if so his wife must be fearful of him loser

  10. velvetluv says:

    Stephen A. Smith was suspended over saying women provoke a fight.He is so right, tell me how many woman will not let a man leave without blocking the door. Or tear of his stuff , throwing something at him, scatch up cars,keep cusing them out.yes you do have men who was raise in trouble home who treat a woman like dirty.But mostly women start it up and can’t finish it once there mouth comes open.It takes two to cause the trouble.I have watch to many young people just will not let that man leave. IF both are single they are free to have as many lover as they want.. No man or woman have paper on a man. to hit them. Only the parents do.So I believe both was wrong..She is not his child and he is not her child. So men need to learn the meaning of dating.It do not mean just you.. and the woman the same.True hurt women who know the real reason.. SO TELL ME HOW MANY MEN HAVE BE ABUSE by a woman mouth everyday. let them speak out.

  11. Only two games for beating one’s Fiancee? And who exactly is waging the war on women?
    Just another reason why the NFL can kiss it.

    And as for Stephen Smith’s suspension…Just another reason why ESPN won’t be watched anymore at my house. They are as PC as it gets. I liked Smith, and I like my commentators to speak their mind.

    • fdafaf says:

      Ray Rice was not suspended 2 games for beating his fiancee. The NFL has no purview to punish its players criminally. They suspended him 2 games for actions detrimental to the league.

  12. wallyjazz says:

    Nicely said. Sport media no longer seems to just cover sports. No one can do every thing well yet all analysts from every walk feel they can or they’re being asked to do so. THIS IS THE FIRST PROBLEM. BE ALL..IMPOSSIBLE. Sure we all may have our opinion but it’s just that an opinion. NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS. AN OPINION IS NOT RIGHT OR WRONG JUST ANOTHER WAY OF VIEWING WHAT ON MAY BELIEVE BASED OFF THEIR EXPERIENCES. As far as Domestic Violence, this is a prevalent problem in most relationships. The failure of more than 60% of relationships worldwide have something to do with DV. The sad thing about this topic is more than 80% of our population may practice DV in their daily lives and or has no clue what DV means or is. Our society as vast as it is still lacks a great deal. UNDERSTANDING, COMPASSION, and KNOWLEDGE just to mention a few.

  13. poorhardworker says:

    I have often like Smith’s “opinions” but this time..he made a HUGE mistake in choosing his words. I can appreciate that he regrets what he said and that was not what he meant…BUT HE SAID IT!!! If you want to apply the reverse of his comment…think about this…how many men should be beaten because of their words or actions??? Beating is just not right…regardless of the sex of the perpetrator!!! Enjoy your vacation Mr. Smith…and then be a bit more careful with your choice of words when you return! DO NOT CONSTRUE THIS AS A STATEMENT AGAINST FREE SPEECH…a right I believe in…but you are not guaranteed freedom from consequences of the words you choose to say!

  14. john says:

    Mr Smith is probably a nice person in private; quiet, gentle, soft-spoken, tolerant, humble, slow to speak and non-confrontational. Then why does he put on this performance in the media by rhetoric exposing his ignorance, intolerance, impatience, meretricious, self-vaunting diatribes which are often bitter even if laced with traces of truth and lucidity. He, or any other “authority” of sports broadcasting, should refrain on any comments when trading into territory of poignant, sensitive and personal social issues where people are hurt outside the inherent risks of sports injuries and leave these for behind the closed doors where the experts address and help the victims cope in a truly professional manner. There is more that can be said but I’ve probably overspoken already. His apology should be accepted by all. Peace to all.

  15. Never heard of him. Publicity stunt maybe?

  16. They are trying to get some ratings up. They need live sports to survive.

  17. Overtaxed says:

    What does domestic abuse have to do with football? If a woman beater beats his wife and works at Microsoft does he get suspended for two weeks?

    • bruce montgomery says:

      to overtaxed…..absolutely…if a man at Microsoft beats up his wife and like Floyd Mayweather is charged and gets jail time…absolutely he will be fired. Was that a trick question or are you in a stupid contest of some kind?

  18. Women do not have to provoke these cowards-someone who hits a woman will not hit a man. I still think Rays’s so-called wife is a gold-digging dumb you-know what. NEVER would a real woman stay with a thug who knocked you out. Mark my word- he’ll do it again, possibly kill her!

  19. Juan Peinado says:

    The media do not like free speech that isn’t certified politically correct. And will censor away any chance they get.

  20. Juan Peinado says:

    Scary that he gets suspended for something so innocuous and then gets a media lynching besides. Free speech is a thing of the past, the people at ESPN and others in the media are making sure of that.

  21. Women may very well anger a man. But a man, because of his superior physical (not mental) strength, NEVER, EVER has the right to abuse, strike or in any way physically abuse a woman or child. If he wants to show how tough he is let him fight someone his own size. Any man who does to a woman what they creature did is a coward and lower than pond scum and is not in any way a “real” man. He’s garbage.

    • This man says:

      It should matter what your sex is or who is physically stronger. Shouldn’t abuse anyone. And you can’t have these double standards in society. Because I recall she was drunk and hit him first. If women want equal benefits, they should also have equal responsibility for their actions.

    • Juan Peinado says:

      Steven A agrees with you. Read his comments.

  22. mpry says:

    I do not like him.

    However, i do not see ONE thing he said that was wrong, in fact listening to the whole clip i thought he made some very good points.

    He said there is never an excuse for a man to hit a woman. Is anyone acknowledging that he said that? He also said women need to not provoke men. Uhh…thats a very solid point. Thats what people are fired up about? Any man who has been in a relationship with a woman knows they are experts at pushing our buttons. Thats fact.

    Stephen A. didnt say if you are provoked, you can hit a woman. He was saying, hey ladies chill out sometimes!

    For the first time ever I am on his side 100%

  23. JoRo says:

    I am boycotting all ESPN programming until Stephen A Smith returns. First Take is based on debate, opinion and opposing views yet, you suspend him for doing what he is paid to do because of the subject. He clearly stated stated that he does not condone violence, then gave his opinion on ways that women might prevent escalating a situation. And he was absolutely right!! If it didn’t apply to your personal situation then don’t own it, but there are some that it did apply to! I am a woman. I don’t condone DV. I understood and agree with Stephen’s comments and I will resume watching when he returns, if he doesn’t, neither will I.

    • verajones says:

      i dont like this stephen smith but i totally agree with him he never should have been suspened freedom of speech

  24. jwntx says:

    Does anyone think that provocation shouldn’t be considered in an assault case?

  25. bluesky says:

    No soup for you. Come back one week.

  26. cristo says:

    “Smith suggested that victims of abuse might also be responsible for provoking it. ”

    That’s not what he said. He said we should look at provocation. Two different things.

  27. GDB says:

    He should walk the freak out and not look back! Money or no money ESPN brings these topics to the front of the line and wants their commentators to respond to it and when they do and you catch flack about it, fire or suspend them. ESPN just proves to me that everything they have their people say is not truthful, not true as to how they feel etc. if you bring these topics up, then expect as all of us out here do, to hear someone’s opinions! What he said had Merritt to it!!!! That does not mean that he condones a man hitting a women. But women do attack their men, they do punch and hit and sometimes men react. So at the end of the day why not teach all of us “just don’t hit period” ESPN is tired and re run after re run! Bell they created Obberman didn’t they?

  28. Manly Baker says:

    Why try to have a serious conversation about this! Pro Sports are nothing more than theater for people with short attention spans. Deep thought is beyond them.

  29. BW says:

    Wait! Wait, wait, wait before passing judgement on Smith and his remarks. Rice’s wife, who was at the time his fiancé, admitted to antagonizing him, going so far as to spit in his face. That’s provocation. If it really happened and she isn’t just covering for him. Was his reaction appropriate? He’ll, no. But at this point in time, when girls are scheduling after-school beat downs and posting fights on social media, we need to reassess the idea that women are generally innocent victims of abuse. Everybody seems to agree that men should not strike women. But neither should women strike, or throw things at, men with impunity. More women are being arrested for domestic violence than ever before. I imagine this is in part due to more jurisdictions requiring law enforcement to press charges rather than leaving that decision to the victim. In those places one can no longer call for help without one or both of the participants being removed from the scene.We can’t automatically assume a man has struck a woman just for the hell of it. We need to understand and evaluate what transpired in the moments immediately leading up to the assault.

  30. J Lee Wills says:

    Thanks to Streven A Smith. We can not afford to make statements in the MEDIA unless we KNOW the facts. “don’t confuse me with the truth my mind is made up”

  31. orenthal says:

    They should investigate his blatant racism, rather than this non-event.

  32. Mike Ivie says:

    I am not a Stephen A. fan, but he asked that we think about provocation; such an element exists in many altercations, and he only brought up considering if there is provocation in this episode. The week-long suspension is a laughable concession to PC; he’ll lose a few dollars, and there will be no “lesson learned”.

  33. Jack Inmanz says:

    Flame me if you wish, but many married men will understand. Some women will do or say whatever they want, no matter who they hurt, fully knowing that they have immunity from punishment.

  34. We all know Disney hates women because they always have dead mothers in their productions and the male ends up raising the the kid. Bambi, Lion King, the Bear are just a few. If the comment is censored it will prove my point.

    • stupidstugg says:

      Not sure what “Bear” movie you’re talking about but in the Lion King the father dies and the kid runs away.

    • H Turner says:

      I agree 100% with you. However, people are to dumb to figure this out. Just think about how many women run their families and hard earned cash into Disney to look at some stupid cartoon characters. All to arrive back at home broke. While Disney scratches his ass all the way to the bank!!

  35. Greg Jones says:

    Political Correctness!!!! Anyway, when the NFL season starts the stadiums will be filled and the TV stations will be showing the games and this Ray Rice incident will be forgotten.

  36. Pyramid says:

    I heard the comments on the radio, and Smith bent over backwards to say that hitting a spouse is wrong, and there is no excuse except in the case where you fear for your life. We did not see the actual event, and if she had a gun or a knife that she was threatening Rice with maybe, just maybe, his actions are understandable. And I believe Smith was talking about hitting a spouse in general. I don’t think he reported that Rice said he was threatened by a woman.

    In any case Smith did not condone hitting in general or in the specific Rice case.

  37. Ronnie says:

    He get a week and the women beater gets two days. Something is bad wrong here.

  38. seedman01 says:

    Sports writers and broadcasters are killing sports.

  39. anthony says:

    RICK you can’t ask what happened because the truth might not sell the story. Nobody complained about D sterling being a racist slumlord but comments with a mistress yeah let’s report that. I find it odd one can see the incident with JAY-Z in the elevator before jumping to conclusion but not R Rice, I was not there but could she be sloppy drunk falling all over, could she be drugged up falling all over or could she been punched out. Which one you think the media is going to choose and sensationalize it as 100% FACTUAL.

  40. Robert Hall says:

    I don’t agree with everything Mr. Smith says but he is right this time. Men who are in abusive relationships do not have any recourse. Ray Rices’ response is the result of taking mental abuse until he couldn’t take it anymore. The alcohol just let him respond. It was the wrong response, but all of you arm chair qb’s want to judge him with your 20/20 hindsight. The right thing to do is for Rice to kick her to the curb and go find another one. But when anyone is in an abusive relationship the mindgame is crippling. Mr. Smith is giving an opinion from a black man’s point of view. One that the liberals at espn Dont understand. Stick to your guns Mr. Smith, you are right.

    • Lynn says:

      Well unfortunately for you and those like you it is against the law to hit a girlfriend or spouse because you feel provoked. So Boo Ya on you little big man.

  41. anthony says:

    Also for ppl calling for STEPHEN A. to be fired I say now you will not watch ESPN I find that quite interesting. Maybe you should of taken that stance when DANA JACOBSON who is white in contrast to DUB1045 comments offended an entire RELIGION AND RACE(JEWISH)said F@#K TOUCHDOWN JESUS where were all these ppl at calling for her job and boycotting ESPN.Oh yeah since she was drunk that was the excuse given and don’t give me she was fired yeah to TAKE A JOB AT CBS yeah that was a real downgrade. IF you as a person are going to be the moral police on one subject apply that to all instances of wrongdoing EQUALLY AT ALL TIMES.

  42. anthony says:

    Dub1045 clearly you forgot the part where he said THERE IS NEVER AN EXCUSE TO HIT A WOMAN but there is such thing as using common sense. And you speak of cultural upbringing WRONG. Blacks and Latinos are not taught to beat their women.You sound more like an undercover racist for that stupid remark. As for women offended while it may not been articulated correctly he was saying to use your wisdom in hostile situations. Sometimes you can turn and walk away or agree to disagree.Instead of removing yourself when you see the situation getting way to heated.It’s like the common man arguing with a professional fighter and it starts getting heated do I stand there and fight the guy knowing he has to register his hands as weapons or do I walk away and leave it alone I use my brain and let it be.KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

  43. remmy says:

    Most of these incidents involve excessive use of alcohol. This is not an excuse by any means but the people involved should seek treatment.

  44. Danton says:

    While it’s never right to strike a woman, there are women who initiate and provoke a man to domestic violence. Do you remember Solange attacking Jay-Z? Would he have been in his rights to hit her back?

    • Jack Pod says:

      In many cases, it takes 2 to create a domestic violence situation. Try walking away from each other during a heated argument. That works in many cases to defuse a potential situation from developing.

  45. Ken Springer says:

    BINGO. I am no fan of Mr. Smith’s, but suspending him for this is disgraceful

  46. Ryan says:

    You are right. I would really boycott ESPN for this. I met Stephen A Smith, and he bought one of my music CDs. Right in Midtown, and he don’t know me from a hole in the wall.

  47. Any One says:

    Try to keep up, it’s about trying to justify HITTING a female. Your word for the day is cognition.

  48. Estella Esposito says:

    So men have a button somewhere that causes them to slap women around? Maybe we shoud look into this and have these buttons surgically removed.

  49. Ryan says:

    You can be objective with Dominic Strauss Khan, but if you play devils advocate with Ray Rice, you loose your job for week……for a euphemism!!! And ESPN should take responsibility as well because they encourage this form of acerbic commentating especially on their Radio Stations. I feel the evil coming out their brand, and I can see letting go of them and this Racist NBA as well!!!

    • Red Chance says:

      Bravo Ryan. I thought it was just my sentiment! Enough is enough. Us everyday folks should protect our minds from this mindless programming. It only pollutes our judgement and creates undue bad feelings about others (those in our immediate span of influence). We have to go to work, live in our communities, raise our children and love on our spouses. We can’t afford allowing anything to further anger, mislead, or cloud our perception of the reality within our everyday lives. The NBA, NFL and ESPN seeks to paint pictures and images for which (i myself) no longer will look upon. My brother i stand with you and pledge to leave this page and others like it — never to return. How many others will join us. We are Americans and we are not anyone’s robots for which to be programmed. Sick of all the Reality garbage and even programmed news reporting. May all those reading this find peace, Truth, joy and prosperity and pass it to everyone we meet.

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