Stephen A. Smith owned up to making the "most egregious error" of his career during a recent rant about domestic violence. The admission and accompany apology came during a taped segment aired at the start of ESPN2's "First Take" debate program on Monday. The talk show host's "egregious error" occurred on Friday on "First Take" when he contended that victims of domestic violence need to be mindful of "the elements of provocation" when dealing with abusers. The remarks occurred during a discussion of the NFL's decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games following his arrest in February for allegedly striking his then-fiancee during an altercation.
"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 the taped segment that began the program on Monday morning. "While elaborating on thoughts concerning the NFL's ruling versus Ray Rice following a domestic dispute with his then-fiancee, I ventured beyond the scope of our discussion 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 is somehow a woman's fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I'm 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 it's proper justice, to be quite honest. But I do sincerely apologize."
WATCH FULL APOLOGY ABOVE
Shortly after Smith's taped apology was aired on "First Take" on Monday, ESPN PR issued a statement on the controversy to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated.
"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.”
The apology issued on Monday was Smith's third attempt at quelling the outrage sparked by his commentary. It came after two attempts at addressing the controversy on Twitter on Friday. Shortly after "First Take" aired on Friday, Michelle Beadle, a host of ESPN's "SportsNation," joined in the chorus calling out Smith and speaking out against victim-blaming. Smith soon responded to Beadle and his many critics with a series of defensive tweets. After letting his followers on Twitter know that he was ANNOYED (emphasis his), Smith went on to largely reiterate his initial comments before apologizing to Beadle and "any woman out there who misconstrued what I said." Smith would later delete all of the tweets from his first attempt at clarifying his position and issue a second statement, with a less combative tone. In that message, shared via TwitLonger, Smith still seemed to be apologizing at least as much for the clarity of his communication as for the substance of his comments.