According to the New York Daily News, ESPN has suspended Max Kellerman from his ESPN radio and SportsNation duties until next Thursday because he spoke on-air about his experience with domestic abuse while discussing Ray Rice's own experience.
Much like with Stephen A. Smith, ESPN never says the word "suspension," but it's clearly the case.
ESPN would neither confirm nor deny Kellerman's suspension. In a statement issued Friday afternoon and ESPN spokesman said: "Max Kellerman will return to ESPN-LA Radio and 'SportsNation' on Thursday."
On Monday, nearly a week after Stephen A. was suspended, Kellerman was on the "Mason & Ireland" show—a lead-in to his own on ESPN-LA—and discussed battering his then-fiancée and now wife of 20 years. He told a story where they both got drunk, she slapped him, and he slapped her back. It was briefly available on a podcast, but was later pulled from the site.
On Friday, ESPN suspended Kellerman, but not because he admitted to hitting his partner. He was suspended because ESPN higher-ups wanted to avoid this kind of discussion on the air, and specifically told on-air talent to tread carefully.
Industry sources said while the content of his story was disturbing, the suspension was all about Kellerman, who once worked for ESPN New York Radio, not adhering to ESPN brass' warning concerning the Rice topic being a highly sensitive one. "My understanding is that it was part of a larger conversation ESPN had with all its on-air people," a radio industry source said. "Kellerman obviously didn't pay attention."
While the topic became even more charged after Smith's remarks and suspension, ESPN personalities were warned to measure and consider their commentary as soon as Rice's two game suspension was handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell.
So Kellerman either ignored the directive altogether or measured and considered his story and decided it was OK to discuss. ESPN, then, is suspending him for insubordination and not necessarily because he said something offensive.
Of further note, that directive to "measure and consider their commentary" as soon as Goodell suspended Rice is curious. Was that specifically meant to address commentary on domestic violence, or did it also apply to commentary on the NFL's reaction to domestic violence?
Photo Credit: Getty Images
ESPN suspends Max Kellerman for inappropriate conversation on Ravens RB Ray Rice and domestic violence [NYDN]