It’s no secret that ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith has foot-in-mouth disease. It’s the reason why ESPN hired him – they wanted a loudmouth who could push the envelope when need be – a kind of Wendy Williams of sports who could generate ratings through provocation. There’s someone like him in every media outlet these days to keep the conversation salacious and to ensure that the dialogue never gets boring, or even more of a rarity, reasoned.

(Let me make a quick disclaimer here – I do know Stephen A. – worked with him as a colleague many years ago and I can attest to the fact that he’s as prone to speaking his mind privately as publicly, no matter what the issue.)

In his latest controversy, Smith’s feet are being held to the fire for comments he made about the NFL suspension of Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault after a surveillance camera in an Atlantic City casino caught the seven-year vet dragging his then-fiancée Janay Palmer out of an elevator. She was unconscious and police reports say it was because Rice knocked her out cold after she spit on him during an argument at a bar.

Palmer is now Rice’s wife. As a first time offender, Rice agreed to a diversion program that will allow him to avoid jail time.  Because he was indicted but not convicted of any crime, and because Palmer reportedly told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that Rice had never been violent with her before, the NFL handed out a 2 game suspension, less than what has been meted out to other players for less serious offenses.

Domestic violence is a known problem in the NFL, as it is in life outside of football. That’s beyond debate. As someone whose job it is to stay abreast of news, I can tell you that that’s one of the most common news stories of any week is a woman – and increasingly entire families – being murdered at the hands of a domestic partner, boyfriend or husband.

In his attempt to make some kind of sense of this, Smith suggested in so many words that women make themselves less of a target for dangerous and violent men. I’m going to believe that what he actually meant was that if you know you are dealing with a nut, you should probably be cautious if you see them ramping up behavior that has proven to be dangerous to you in the past. After public push-back, including from his own colleague Michelle Beadle, Smith sent out a  lengthy tweet,  which further confused the issue. Then he deleted that tweet and tweeted again, apologizing for being “inarticulate” and reiterating that he didn’t mean what his words were interpreted to mean. Sigh.

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27 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Stephen A. Smith Missed His Chance To Raise Domestic Violence Awareness

  1. Jason on said:

    First off – B more Mom of a HIGH SCHOOL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love your point of view as a female on this topic. I don’t condone violence of any kind and believe we should all keep our hands to ourselves. I just wonder how her actions are “provocation” and his criminal. Isn’t abuse, abuse? Why is she not being judged according to her actions? Provocation? They both were arrested, she confessed to her part in the situation and they’ve made efforts to amend their lives. I agree with Stephen A. not to condone the violence, and yet to prevent it from going that far. In essence, THEY BOTH WERE WRONG! And I must say I commend those who have the patience and self-control in similar situations to walk away without retaliating, but what I won’t do is “unfairly” condemn those who have a just reaction. She made him the first victim and he responded poorly, but her gender doesn’t make her actions null and void.

  2. H Jay on said:

    A simple question. Why isn’t ever mention that women are batter’s too? There are many men get beat by their women in the same way and yet society silence’s their voices. The discussion on domestic violence should be a two sided conversation. Women are not the only victims.

    • Domestic Violence, is a major problem in this society, and until men are able to come out of the closet, and break their silence, it’s always going to be a one sided conversation, lets face it, very few men, if any are going to call 911 if they are being beaten by their spouse, or girlfriend, can you imagine, a guy telling another guy at work, that they are the victim of DV, that’s never going to happen.

  3. Stephen A. said, that women should make themselves less than a target for violent men, and I completely agree with him. How, many times have women called 911 when they’re been beaten, and when the police arrive they refuse to press charges? How many times have women left these violent men, only to return a day or two later. Women who repeatedly put themselves in these dangerous situation should be blamed, it is their fault if they don’t put their foot down, and say, enough is enough, it should only take one time for a women to get hit by a man for her to leave.

    • B more Mom of a HIGH SCHOOL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on said:

      I agree that’s why I flew back from Germany to St. Louis and PAID FOR MY DIVORCE!!! My daughters deserved better than a WOMAN BEATER!!! I teach them we must take responsibility for our actions AS WOMEN!!!

  4. B more Mom of a HIGH SCHOOL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on said:

    As a domestic abuse survivor (from military) and mother of daughters we watched Stephen that morning and that’s not what he meant!!! Oh I’m a Tom Joyner X Mas Wish alum as well (sent us to DIsney World). Is Solange Knowles in jail???? If Jay had knocked her a@ out in SELF DEFENSE he would be under a jail. Stephen’s point was for ALL OF US TO KEEP OUR HANDS OFF EACH OTHER (black women behaving like animals on TV isn’t cute but we trash men)!!!! I have a hard time believing the NJ Prosecutor who wanted Ray UNDER A JAIL and Roger Goodell would watch a tape of Ray knocking a woman clean out and not boot his a@ from the NFL.This tells me JANAY TOLD THE TRUTH!!! The media is mad the Knowles Carter fam shut town the TMZ hotels leaking PRIVATE tapes pipeline!!! hhahahahaha Love you Stephen! Go Ravens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • B more Mom of a HIGH SCHOOL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on said:

      My former collegiate student athlete daughter reminded me of a incident years ago in high school in which I got into a disagreement with a jealous parent at a sports event. She was jealous my child was recruited to a huge college program and won B more Suns Athlete of the Year. Friends still joke the E. St. Louis.St. Louis came out in me because my thinking when I stepped to her was “If you feel froggy JUMP because I’m going to protect my baby!!” Anyway when I stepped towards her I felt these strong arms lift me into the air (I’m VERY tall) and haul me off high school grounds. It was a fellow team parent! My daughter’s point was this is how MILLIONAIRE Ray should have handled DRUNK Janay (which Stephen said as well on a previous show) as a STRONG FB player! Signed B more PROUD sports mom!!!

  5. Greuvey on said:

    Stephen Smith perpetuated the concept of blaming the victim. It doesn’t matter if the victim is a child, an adult, a woman, or a man – a victim is NEVER responsible for the violence enacted against him or her. It doesn’t matter what they may have been discussing or arguing about. It doesn’t matter if she spit in his face. It is NOT EVER OK to knock your fiance/wife unconscious over a disagreement! Stephen Smith, by repeatedly making comments along the line of “let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions,” you are also victimizing this woman – and all victims of domestic violence. Shame on you!

    I was listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show earlier today when they were discussing this incident. There were female listeners sending in texts and emails saying “we don’t know what SHE did to provoke him.” I couldn’t believe my ears! This is surely the darkest era of women’s history – a time when women do not act to help other women, but rather perpetuate the victimization of other women by not standing up for them.

    • B more Mom of a HIGH SCHOOL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on said:

      As a mother of daughters who showed up at my military base with my face destroyed I take this topic of domestic abuse VERY seriously (I posted above as well)!! That’s not what Stephen was saying BECAUSE MY DAUGHTER AND I WATCHED THE WHOLE SHOW!!!! I’m sick and tired to the Solange Knowles and Porscha Williams animal behavior the media seems to think is cute. I have no problem with Janay telling Roger Goodell “Yes I was DRUNK and started swinging at Ray and he pushed me off of him not knowing his strength knocked me back onto the elevator wall!!” Ray doesn’t have a history of beating women or even a parking ticket here in B more. I trust what Roger Goodell saw was sufficient for his decision!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Aaron on said:

    Its funny that Ms Pendelton wrote this long article about Stephen A Smith a sports personality with no record of violence himself but said nothing when the LA cop beat that elderly woman on camera. I said it last week and ill say it again this week the feminist only come out to condemn Black men but if a White man assaults a Black woman its a race issue and not a gender issue. Ms Pendelton really needs to get her journalistic priorities in order.

  7. Timekeeper on said:

    Wow, has this situation gotten blown out of proportion. First, the senate should simply just go ahead and sign a bill called “Male Basing Day” and get it over with so everyone can get it out of there system. Sort of like “the Purge” movie. I am certain I am going to get hate responses, so in advance of you licking your lips and banging your fingers on the reply button, my only comment is “what else is new? Have at it. I deplore violence in any way, shape or form, so don’t get it twisted. And the video we all saw had an effect on me just like everyone else.
    However, I do not think, like everyone seems to have jumped on this bandwagon that this is somehow sending a poor message to domestic violence. I think Ray Rice was given a bit of a reprieve for 2 reasons. 1) He has never been in trouble in his life( I would like to think that this counts for something) And 2) His then fiancé admitted to having spit in his face and slapping him. Oh, I know what you’re saying, he should have been man enough to walk away. Theoretically, that may be true. But I do wonder how many can and would truly pass that litmus test in the same situation. A lot of men have spoken out on this as well. Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of bothers playing that game of sticking their chest out and proclaiming how much better they are than the next guy. Haha, and then they also score a few brownie points as well! Good going. Again I deplore violence in any form and fortunately have never had to deal with that scenario. But I have come close ‘cause some women will get all up in your grille just assuming you can or won’t do squat! I believe that is all Mr. Smith as trying to say on ESPN. And for that he is now the scourge ( I call it scapegoat) for anyone who wants to rifle his character. I have never bought into everything Steven says on the air and have debated his point s of view on other subjects. But he. Like all of us said he hated and deplores violence against women. His statement of contention was simply making sure you do all you can do not to provoke or escalate a situation further. To put it in context, I think all of our parents told us something like this when we were growing up. I know mine did. The problem is so many have now gotten there dander up and now are huffing and puffing . some say Ray didn’t seem remorseful. That isn’t what I heard or saw. There were hundreds of people who came to his defense who know him, worked with him, and the many young people he has helped with programs he is a part of. I think Roger Goodell took all of this into consideration. Lastly, I have seen black men get raked thru the system time and time again for having committed minor offenses. I have seen men get lied on, cheated on, pleaded guilty for things they didn’t do, and the list goes on and on. At least once a month a man comes out of prison after finding out he was innocent the whole time. Last week a man died in a chokehold for selling a few cigarettes.
    Now, you might say none of these things have anything to do with each other? I say different. In other words, if Ray rice caught a break, then he caught a break. Thank God somebody did because it is usually the other way around.

  8. Linda on said:

    Stephen A Smith is an asshole!!!

    Men have no business putting their hands on women regardless of whether the woman antagonized the man or not!!!!!!

    A real man would simply walk away from an argument that he knows he cannot win against a WOMAN!!!!!!

    • Tammy on said:

      I disagree. That woman has a responsibility to do what is right just like the man. Do not make no excuse for a woman just because we have a V*******. If someone like Queen Latifiah want to hit someone like Justin Bieber, should Justin Bieber let Queen Latifiah hit him? NO. SOme women wont let a man walk away.

    • @Linda: Soooo when has Stephen A. EVER SAID it’s Ok to hit a woman…even if antagonized? I’m thinking NEVER!! Do you follow Stephen A.? Do you watch his TV show, or listen to his radio show? ….I’m thinking you NEVER DO!! And for the record…NO ONE IS CONDONING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!!

  9. msstarr82 on said:

    Stephen A is not the problem nor are his comments. the woman spits on, is knocked out cold by, AND gets MARRIED to the man!!! WHAT is her problem??? women must take responsibility for their own lives and decisions. no man has a reason to abuse a woman is nothing but the whole truth. but women should know and see the signs and behave accordingly to protect themselves at any cost. make no mistake about violence, it goes both ways and some folks don’t behave in ways to prevent it.

    • Tammy on said:

      I agree. And if people are not willing to be fair about BOTH men and women, their the issue is going to be lost. Even law enforcement is changing in many states. If a domestic dispute happens (unless on can prove that the other person started the fight) , BOTH persons (man and woman) will be ARRESTED.

  10. Leave Stephen A. Smith alone!! I follow Stephen A. on First Take, and the Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Rucco Radio Show. Some people have misinterpreted Stephen’s comments. Stephen A. has ALWAYS DEFENDED WOMEN IN HIS COMMENTARY. He has often said that MEN SHOULD NEVER PUT THEIR HANDS ON A WOMAN….NO MATTER WHAT. Love me some Stephen A. He is charismatic, and keeps it real!!

    • Tammy on said:

      And a woman should not put her hands on a man NO MATTER WHAT. Sorry but we live in a different day and age. ADULTS should be ADULTS. I am not going to give a woman an excuse because some women use that “a man should not hit me” to mistreat a man. But if you dish it out, be prepared to take it. Remember, there are some women in prison for killing and abusing men.

  11. Tamara Bess, LMFT on said:

    Stephen A did more than miss an opportunity. He contributed to the problem. Men who abuse women look for the smallest excuse and they do BLAME their victims for acts of violence. Whether it was an innocent mistake or a reflection of his affiliation with his boys, I believe that we got a little glimpse into the locker room conversations around incidents like this from the abuser’s perspective. To answer cristren’s question about why everyone is coming down on him, read . . . . http://2bsisters.com/2014/07/27/footballs-cult…lateral-damage/

    • Tammy on said:

      And some women use their gender to try to get over as well. If people are not going to talk about EVERYONE (men and women), then the issues is going to be lost. NO ONE should hit NO ONE.

  12. Ray Rice, should have been the focus of your article, not Stephen A. This why men like Ray Rice do what they do, because people don’t hold them accountable, all this man got was a slap on the wrist, what is a two game suspension? are you kidding me, that’s a joke. This man should have done some jail time for what he did, where is all the outrage over Ray Rice action, I don’t see any body starting a petition to ban him from football, like they did Michael Vick.

  13. First of all, it shouldn’t be Stephen A’s job to raise awareness about domestic violence. I knew perfectly well what he meant by that statement, and I don’t understand why he should have to apologize in the first place. Why is every one coming down on him, and not Ray Rice, this is the low life that knocked his finance out cold, and then this idiot had the nerve to marry this man any way, this is just what Stephen A was talking about, that women should make themselves less than a target, this woman know how violent Ray Rice is, and she married him any way, what a fool!

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