Stephen A. Smith gets a one-week suspension

Ray Rice’s suspension has spawned another one.

Stephen A. Smith, who foolishly suggested that women may play a role in provoking illegal violence from the men in their lives and then doubled down on Twitter before finally apologizing via teleprompter, has been suspended for a week by ESPN.  He won’t appear on ESPN2’s First Take or ESPN Radio (which he’s leaving for Sirius Mad Dog Radio anyway) until August 6.

“I believe his apology was sincere and that he and we have learned from what we’ve collectively experienced,” ESPN president John Skipper said, via the Associated Press.

While Smith’s apology may have been sincere, it apparently wasn’t a one-time slip of the tongue.

Given that the suspension came four days after the comments were uttered, the suspension likely was the result of a more lengthy and detailed conversation that possibly considered other options.  Those options may have included a longer suspension, or maybe a permanent one.

On one hand, stupid opinions and/or good opinions articulated stupidly can be stupid enough to result in tangible employment consequences.  On the other hand, the “embrace debate” premise of First Take creates an environment in which stupid opinions and/or good opinions articulated stupidly are encouraged, if not required.

Last year, stupid opinions about Robert Griffin III on First Take got Rob Parker fired.  Now, Smith has been suspended and possibly placed on a leash so short that he’ll have to tiptoe on eggshells to avoid stepping on a land mine.

Maybe the problem isn’t Parker or Smith but the show itself.  Debate should be authentic and organic.  When a network demands that a pair of analysts come up with diametrically opposed and yet equally hot takes on multiple topics per day, it’s somewhat amazing that the format hasn’t claimed more careers.

105 responses to “Stephen A. Smith gets a one-week suspension

  1. this dude steven a smith is crazy. hope he’ll learn something from this. that said, i still like First Take though :).

  2. When will ESPN just admit that this show is horrible and take it off the air? I hate the “embrace debate” nonsense they hide behind.

    There are some topics where debate isn’t needed. One of those is when a guy punches his girlfriend/fiance/wife in the face, knocks her unconcious, and drags her out of an elevator.

    Why force a host to debate the other side of that? They are just begging for someone to say something stupid, and they they suspend the person who fell into the trap rather than fixing the real problem, which is the show.

    Too much race-bating and idiocy on that show. Time to cancel it.

  3. I don’t think Stephen A Smith did anything other than poorly explain what he wanted to say. If a woman hits a man then that is wrong. If the man hits back then that is wrong and we should emphasize just how wrong it is but it does not erase the wrong that the woman did.

  4. he got more days off work than Ray Rice, more proof the NFL screwed this one up.

  5. Patsarespygaters – FT is the highest rated show? Is the sky blue in your world?

  6. the minorities in my area only watch first take for him many people hate stephen a smith but alot more people like him the ratings will drop severely without him check beadles twitter mentions by the way compared to smiths . its the harsh truth,…

  7. It’s what ESPN wants (embrace debate) until something really controversial comes up and the public frenzy ensues. Social media is a blessing and a curse that way.

  8. shakespeare22 says:
    Jul 29, 2014 8:52 PM
    Patsarespygaters – FT is the highest rated show? Is the sky blue in your world?

    nielsen ratings had it 355,000 to 400, 000 if it didn’t have a strong following it would have been cancelled long ago ….it bring ESPN money….

  9. Ray Rice physically woman – suspended for two days of work

    Steven Smith talks stupidly about it – suspended for five days of work

    How does this make sense?

  10. Ridiculous. He just articulated his argument poorly. It happens. He apologized. Espn is nothing without that show. Everything else on that network is unwatchable. SAS and skip bayless are a great duo and it’s the only thing worth watching.

  11. Well Skip Bayless is considered the biggest moron on the show and somehow can tap dance around firings and suspensions

  12. No reason to watch First Take for the next week, suspend Michelle Beadle too.

  13. slbasegame257 says: Jul 29, 2014 8:46 PM

    I don’t think Stephen A Smith did anything other than poorly explain what he wanted to say. If a woman hits a man then that is wrong. If the man hits back then that is wrong and we should emphasize just how wrong it is but it does not erase the wrong that the woman did.


    The only issue with this though is that he picked the wrong instance to make this argument. The original question I believe was if Rice got a fair suspension. That should have been the main focus, not blaming the victim — even though what he was saying had some substance.

    Had it been Jay-Z/Solange, he would be applauded. But he can’t make that same argument here because there’s video evidence and the suspension length itself was a joke.

  14. The suspension is BS. Like ESPN is some moral compass. I personally know situations where the women is the violent perpetrator albeit it is in the overwhelming minority of cases. I don’t think this was the case in the Ray Rice situation. You can’t snap and knock out your old lady out. Stephen A has to realize there is NO free speech at ESPN. Talk hosts have to take middle road so they don’t mess with ESPN’s money. This suspension is bull. Only an apology should been necessary. I’ll listen to you Stephen wherever you show up my friend. SCREW ESPN!!

  15. Rice beats the woman and gets two weeks…Smith makes a stupid comment and gets a week….shows how much the NFL failed.

  16. Eventually they will stumble on better ideas for show content. A lot of these shows tend to copycat and regurgitate a lot of the same spiel and kudos to any network that strives to create fresher and more enlightening entertainment. Leave the banter to the amateur.

  17. and the censorship of free speech continues by corporate America. PC BS
    It’s a valid opinion and undoubtedly many abusive relationships involve emotional and verbal abuse on both sides of the equation. Please note that I’m
    NOT postulating that elevating an argument to physicality is at all appropriate. But abuse can be multifaceted and possible from both the man and women in the relationship.

  18. Stephen A Smith got 1 week for talking about it

    Ray Rice got 2 weeks for doing it


  19. MF you are 100% correct in saying that the problem isn’t Smith or Parker. The problem is ESPN. This network has become the Excrement Sports Propaganda Network. Instead of doing the right journalistic thing in reporting the truth and sports news. ESPN chooses to create the sports news.

  20. Sticks and stones will break my bones but word will get you fired….. This country is taking a crap!!!!!!

  21. Dude. Cancel the show. It sucks, and it only causes more jobs.

    When I think to myself “hey, who at ESPN is more uninformed about football than Stephen A Smith” the only name I can think of is Skip Bayless.

    Either cancel the show, or keep them out of the NFLs business.

  22. Guess he isn’t a Rhodes Scholar. He thinks he knows it all. A week should translate to see u later. However he is friends and tight with NBA players. L

  23. If you actually watch the segment, in No way was he condoning hurting women or saying it’s their fault if they do get hit. There obviously are guys out there who will hurt women. He was saying prevent it, Don’t provoke it, if you happen to find yourself in that situation. Welcome to “politically correct America”. USA is turning into a bunch of nancy’s.

  24. Smith + Bayless = unwatchable. I’d rather watch decade-old reruns of Judge Judy than watch these two gasbags go at it.

  25. Must be a big Raven fan or Rice fan. Just like the fans who cheered Rice at camp. Cheering a women beater. A normal person would have just applauded lightly only cause on their team. Not cheer loudly as if supporting Violence. 2 games. J. Gordon suspended season for weed. Its like Gordon’s 3rd time or so testing “dirty”. Whatever. Rice was caught on tape. Can’t test for wife beatings. Who knows how many times he’s done it. Wife doesn’t seem type to admit to it either. She has that battered wife syndrome. NFL. Get it right. Violence V.S. Relaxed (Gordon). NFL and ESPN choose Violence with weak suspensions.

  26. Stopped watching ESPN when they hired Ober-something coming from CNBC for good. Skip stinks stopped watching First Take before complete ESPN withdrawal. SAS lives in a political correct world. While in the AF we saw it all, wife and child abuse and guess what ? Wife abuse towards her husband and children. Several cases where the wife beat the crisp out of her husband, no retaliation because she knew her husband would be kicked out of the service and took advantage of that. Sad, all the phonies, self righteous people on these forums. These abuses go on every day every hour time and time again to the same people. We bad go put people in protection programs. Abuse is epidemic. I bet half of you have been involved in a very tragic situation and sought forgiveness for a one time act, completely out of character, from your love ones, friends and Punic having knowledge. Of course these writers from sports talk are absolutely perfect.

  27. “Organic” is a chemistry term. It does not pertain to vegetables, and it does not pertain to a “natural” state of things. Thankfully this is an inchoate football page and not a forum for intellectuals. Lawyers and football fans maybe, but certainly not intellectuals.

  28. I used to like listening to SAS, but now I have to turn the channel when he so rudely interrupts, raises his voice to MLK speech levels, starts on the holier than now crap. Really is getting annoying, time to move on from him. Seems to be racist too despite his claims to the contrary.

    Or both of them for that matter.
    I switch over to Mike and Mike, even if they are on vacation its a better show.

  29. About time ESPN articulated they were finally tired of Smith’s comment. His show today with his snickering making jest of people making mistakes just showed how insincere his apology was. He has been riding the no one can touch me horse for longer than he should have without it being cut out from under him. That show needs to be removed as it is.

  30. I’m surprised either one of them haven’t been suspended sooner. And Skip was involved in that RG3 talk that one time. Lol. Skip is slippery.

  31. I’ll probably get a lot of heat for this, but I’d rather have Stephen A. Smith instead of Skip Bayless as an analyst at ESPN. Someone who gushes over Tim Tebow also gushes over people like Justin Bieber. It’s simply wrong!

  32. I used to hate ESPN. The more I watched it, the more I hated it. Then I stopped watching it. Now, I just don’t care. They don’t bother me anymore because I don’t pay attention to them. It’s nice.

  33. First Take was spawned after PTI became so popular. Many shows on many stations tried to copy the format. The difference is Kornheiser and Wilbon …

    a) actually know about sports


    b) don’t force their takes. Sometimes they agree sometimes they don’t but it’s still a great show because they’re both smart and funny.

    First Take is a dumbed down bastard child of PTI. Neither of those guys know any more about sports than your average fan and in Stephen A. Smith’s case … much less.

    The guy is ignorant when it comes to every sport other than basketball and that’s why the show is so basketball-heavy because it’s the only issue he can discuss without sounding like a buffoon. He knows nothing about baseball, certainly nothing about hockey, and fakes some knowledge about football but his knowledge is limited to whatever stats his laptop are giving him at the moment.

    So what do you do with a show where the hosts knowledge of sports is slim to none? You debate issues like Lebron’s jersey number and imaginary rankings of present versus retired players and creating fake disagreements over how “clutch” someone is.

    I watched the other day after not watching for over a year and was reminded why I stopped watching. How can anyone sit thru that?

  34. That show has created such a poor verbal culture habit.

    The worst part of all is that no sports, mainly that one, doesn’t even feel like educating fans when there are fans that want education.

  35. How come Donald Sterling wasn’t suspended for a week?
    Both comments were offensive. The only difference is Sterling thought his conversation was private. Smith did it on the air.
    Smith also didnt accept Sterling’s apology. Why should anyone accept his?
    Makes me wonder why one guy is treated much differently than the other…(NOT)

  36. This is a pretty big deal. Stephen A Smith is on the Mt Rushmore of ESPN presenters along with Chris Berman, Mike Tirico and Stuart Scott.
    For ESPN to suspend one of their finest and force him to read an apology is a major embarassment. Skip Bayless and Stephen A. express their thoughts with such conviction, I sometimes wonder if they do it for ratings.

  37. I agree with Florio for the first time.
    Yes, the show itself is crazy/stupid.
    I mean Skip Bayless is on there, what do you expect. No but, the shows format does pushes the hosts against a wall that sometimes they have to say some of the most outrages things just to pass time and fight their way out.
    The show needs a new format

  38. This, like the use of the N word is a land mine that, if you are a public figure and wish to remain so, you just do NOT touch. You just can’t. I understand what he was trying to say, but it would never be received objectively.

    I grew up in a home seeing my mom with black eyes, swollen lips time and again. I know, from a child’s perspective, spousal abuse. However I’d be lying if I said my mom didn’t play a part in her getting hit. Each time it was preceded by her hitting him repeatedly and finally in the face. Yeah he could have walked away long before it got that heated but she also could have kept her hands to herself. When I was about 20-21, I had this discussion with my mom. I simply told her, keep your hands off him. Control your anger. If you cant do that, then leave. This is not where you belong At no other time, in any oral argument did he ever place his hands on her. They are still married and thriving. She doesn’t hit anymore but they do argue still.

    I recognize that this is not the norm for women who are habitually beaten but I think my experience is what Smith was pointing to in his comments. Thing is, HE can’t be the one to utter it. Not if he wants to stay in front of the cameras and make that money. And if he or any other public figure wants to approach this career killer and keep a career , they need to provide background and details and even then they may not be safe.

    For the majority of women who are being abused due to no fault of their own, I don’t believe Smith was speaking of them. For the women who insist on getting in a man’s space and placing their hands on him in the heat of an argument, he is referring to you.

  39. I watch First Take on the odd chance they discuss the NBA in the first few minutes. Other than that I turn it off as soon as Stephen begins. I’ve never seen a human shoot a continuous stream of hot air out of their face of absolute nonsensical, foundation-less, meandering digressions like Smith can. This man is an absolute moron. All he knows how to do is yell and misinterpretation everything said to him. The show is a complete disaster and coupled with Smith’s insecurities and emotional hostilities, actually make, the even more abrasive Bayless, look good in comparison

  40. ESPN has gone and lost its mind , WHY have a OPINION SHOW tapping HOT BUTTON topics , Then when the HOST voice their set OPINIONS they get PUNISH for it . Make no sense.
    Either squash the SHOW or just STICK to stuff happening ON FIELD.Last i check he DID NOT make any type of SLUR.

  41. So. He was quick to blame Travon Martin’s death on young Black men’s fascination with hoodies and baggy pants. He was quick to blame Chad Johnson because a judge overreacted to him slapping his lawyer. None of those warranted a suspension. Now he makes this comment which he might have gotten away with. That is until one of his female colleagues of a certain race took offense. How dare you Stephen A Smith? How dare you offend Michelle? You are suspended. Can we say double standard?

  42. absurdly foolish to think his comments are as bad as Sterling’s. I know personally women who instigate violence in their relationships although they are definitely in the minority. An apology would have suffice.

  43. kinda funny we get to comment on how others comment, and think your judge and jury on what they say, free speech is getting stepped on here, this is a place ad so is that show for you to speak your mind, why argue, what Stephen A. did was speak his opinion on the subject, that’s his right in this country, ESPN should be fined for being east coast and west coast biased, so what makes them right and nobody else??? We fight and lose soldiers to protect others rights in the world, why can’t social media realize this is a place for opinions, we live in the USA the land of the free and the brave….grow up and act like it Stephen A. and Skip Bayless deserve to do what the show wants and also in their personal lives, ESPN just another blackeye for you, they do what you ask….Back your own words or stop it all together………Stephen A. did what you asked for that show, don’t sell him out and cover your ass, do the right thing

  44. @PCa Survivor says: Jul 29, 2014 9:03 PM

    Ray Rice physically woman – suspended for two days of work

    Steven Smith talks stupidly about it – suspended for five days of work

    How does this make sense?
    Rice’s suspension for two games is actually 2 weeks without pay and an additional paycheck

  45. Rob Parker got dumped for saying stuff that doesn’t even approach what Smith did for outrageousness. The difference is, he doesn’t mean the kind of $$ to ESPN that Smith does.

    It’s kind of like Big Ben, who got six games and was never even charged with jaywalking. And Rice, who only got two games and yet was charged with assault.

    Like league, like network.

  46. Everyone is entitled to their opinion as long as it is the same as mine. Too bad what our country is becoming.

  47. Let me start off by saying I HATE Stephen A Smith, I think he’s the biggest reverse racist bigot on sporting tv. Also, I didn’t see or read his exact words. Now, with that said, just based off what the writer of THIS article has presented to me, I have to kind of agree with Stephen A Smith. If a guy is in an elevator with a drunk female who starts hitting him, what is he supposed to do? Allow himself to be assaulted over and over again? Natural human nature can take over and a man will swing on a woman, regardless of what he’s taught. Like I said, I didn’t read what Stephen A Smith said, but maybe he presented himself wrong. MAYBE his only words to the females getting abused is DO NOT START HITTING YOUR MAN because you do not know what he’ll do in retaliation. Too many women now a days want to hit a man and expect him to stand pat and not defend himself.

  48. The comments were surely in error. If you watch him daily like I do, he does respect women. He should not be suspended. He is the show. Its his job to debate. Many sports people enjoy the diverse side in which they express. No S.A. Smith, no sh0w really.

  49. This has been a long time coming. Smith (sorry, I dont dig the Stephen A thing) was bound to someday put his foot squarely in his mouth. ESPN should have fired this arrogant, egotistical blowhard!

  50. “I believe his apology was sincere…the guy we got to write it for him told us he really really meant it.”

  51. hats off to Florio. very well written (cant believe i just wrote that). First Take is supposed to be a debate show but its turned into a bafoon circus! I dont understand how ESPN can get all up tight about his comments when thats what the show is all about, controversial comments smh.

  52. Florio got this one right. ESPN needs to do away with these “phony debates” that they make these people do.

  53. First of all, the NFL should be ashamed for the Rice suspension of only two games. Essentially they are saying that committing violence is only twice as egregious as talking about it.

    Second, any person (man or woman) who DOESN’T think they can provoke someone to violence against themselves is naive and should be considered having diminished capacity. The fact that this woman went BACK to Rice tells us all that she has no self-esteem and deserves this relationship.

  54. Is anyone else surprised how ESPiN caters and goes overboard to the absolute lowest % of their viewing audience?

  55. He said nothing wrong. No one should get a free pass to be violent or abusive with someone just based on gender. There are some women who will take full advantage of the ‘you’re not supposed to hit a woman’ rule by kicking, scratching, spitting, and whatever else they can think of to humiliate the guy. Women should be held to the same standard as men—keep your hands to yourself and find civil ways to deal with conflict.

  56. Hey ! Let’s create a show where we have two guys constantly argue and when we disagree with one of them we can suspend him. That way they can try to bring in ratings and we as a network will look like we still have a couple of scruples left!!

  57. I agree with stephen A Smith. So women provoke men to hit them i am not saying its right. But i have seen men try to walk away and and push the woman away but the woman keeps on hitting and punching them “provoking” and so when the man can’t take anymore this is what happens and then the woman wants to hurry an call the police that he beat her behind. But their are women who do get beat by men for no reason and should be in jail. Ray Rice did wrong and should be punished point blank.

  58. The problem is that the discussion of domestic abuse is almost always framed with the woman as the victim. Its impact is rarely brought up in terms of gay and lesbian couples or violence by women against men. The right to not be attacked and beaten, should be a HUMAN rights issue, not just a women’s rights issue.

    That’s why I’ve always hated phrases like, “A man should never hit a woman.” That’s only one part of the issue. The message should be that it’s not okay to hit ANYbody, unless it’s in self-defense.

  59. Isn’t it ironic that Stephen A. Smith got suspended for putting his fut in his mouth only one week less than Ray Rice got suspended for actually knocking out a woman.

    I think that SAS was probably trying to explain (without condoning hitting women) that a woman repeatedly hitting a man is not a good plan, and that Goodell saw this as a mitigating circumstance. It looks like Goodell is getting a lot of people into trouble who are trying to explain his logic. If one even assumes that logic played a role in suspending a man who knocked out a woman only 2 games, that is.

  60. I’m a huge fan of ESPN First Take! I absolutely love Stephen A. as well as Skip! It’s called the debate desk PEOPLE!! We must understand the definition of debate. Everything under the sun can and should be talked about or should I say debated on. We always want folks to respect our way of thinking but when someone says something outside of the way you believe or see things now you’re in your feelings. I know women who fall victim because of the fact they’re a woman and feel a man shouldn’t hit them when in fact they have put their hands on him. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think a man should put his hands on a woman but that goes to say the same about a woman “keep your hands feet and all other objects to yourself”!! And we won’t have this to even debate on. NO I don’t believe Stephen A. should have been suspended he was doing his job by debating the issue. When he says other things that we don’t agree with I don’t see the media showing up and showing out about that! Change the name of the show if they aren’t allowed to speak on issues at hand. #I♥STEPHENASMITH #I♡SKIPBAYLESS

  61. To me the problem is that he didn’t explain “provoke” clearly. I think he meant that women shouldn’t hit/punch/kick men. Which should be obvious, and it applied in the Rice case.

    But provoke could be taken to mean being rude, insulting, yappy, inconsiderate etc. And if you interpret it that way, then the idea is problematic.

  62. I salute Stephen A. Smith for his statements. Unfortunately, there are women who initiate physical encounters with men to strike out! I do not condone a man beating up women. However, when a woman foolishly attacks a man and continues to pursue the man in a physical
    fighting manner, she wants to push him to a point where he strikes back, she is trying to get a physical reaction which will fall negatively for him. That’s wrong and crazy!

  63. I am not a SAS fan. I find him condescending and he often tries to win debates by not letting the guests speak. I am on his side on this one though. The man tried to make a point but didn’t quite do so. It pretty much came out wrong and his points context changed. Even if it didn’t, you can’t hire somebody for their opinion and then suspend him because it does not conform to the majority. That’s just wrong.

  64. I’m confused, how can debate be “authentic and organic” when anybody, anywhere who says something controversial gets destroyed. Doesn’t that remove any chance for an “authentic” debate? When people can’t say what they actually think?

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