ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith on Monday morning said he thought it was unnecessary for the Miami Dolphins to suspend and fine player Don Jones for tweets critical of Michael Sam.
After the St. Louis Rams drafted Sam, now the first openly gay player in the NFL, Jones tweeted “OMG” and “Horrible,” and then later apologized to Sam for his “inappropriate comments.”
When discussing the reactions to Sam’s on-air kiss with his partner, Smith said that while he was okay with the kiss, he understood that not everyone would want to see that.
“It didn’t bother me,” he said on ESPN’s “First Take,” as recorded by Mediaite, before launching into his defense of freedom of speech. “When it comes to the players and their tweets, I don’t believe they should have been punished for it. I’m of the mindset that there is freedom of speech. People have the right to say what they feel. And if there are ramifications for it, so be it.”
“I think it’s a very, very dangerous thing when people see something and they have a problem with what they’re seeing and they express themselves, and ultimately they’re fined,” he continued.
Smith then added that he supports equality for LGBT individuals
“I’m liberal in my thinking. I’ve always been an advocate for civil rights for the gay community,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with it, but I do respect those that do.”