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On Thursday the NFL handed down a two-game suspension for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.  The punishment stemmed from Rice’s arrest for assault against his then girlfriend Janay Palmer.  Rice was seen on videotape dragging Palmer out of an elevator after knocking her unconscious.  The two have since made amends and in fact got married three days after Rice was indicted.

Though Rice avoided jail time the incident violated the NFL’s code of conduct, warranting the suspension, but many felt two-games was way too short.  It’s become an intense topic of debate and was of course covered on ESPN’s highly popular debate show, First Take.  Host Stephen A. Smith is known for being vastly outspoken and while many look to him to be the voice of reason as opposed to his co-host Skip Bayless, today Smith is the one who came under fire for his comments.


Smith reiterated that violence against women is wrong but he also tried to explain that women should not provoke an attack.  Here’s the full transcript via Deadspin.

It’s not about him, then. It’s about you, and here’s what I mean by that. We keep talking about the guys. We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I got to reiterate that. But as a man who was raised by women, see I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do, I know what my boys are going to do. I know what, I’m going to have to remind myself that I work for the Worldwide Leader, I’m going to have to get law enforcement officials involved because of what I’m going to be tempted to do. But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen. Now you got some dudes that are just horrible and they’re going to do it anyway, and there’s never an excuse to put your hands on a woman. But domestic violence or whatever the case may be, with men putting their hands on women, is obviously a very real, real issue in our society. And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen. We know they’re wrong. We know they’re criminals. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a 2-game suspension which we both acknowledged. 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, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying. No point of blame.

The situation further angered people who feel both the NFL and major media outlets have improperly handled the issue of domestic violence.  To some it also felt like victim blaming and coincided with Palmer apologizing for her part in the altercation.  Many people have pitched tents in Smith’s Twitter mentions and calling for his firing from ESPN while the major media network has not yet made a comment.

– Shaina Auxilly (@Shay_Marie)