Max Kellerman Learned the Hard Way That ESPN Doesn’t Want Hosts Discussing Ray Rice

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice sits on the sideline in the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
AP

ESPN on-air personality Max Kellerman was suspended by the network last week for speaking about a domestic violence incident in his past, the New York Daily News reports.Kellerman’s comments came in light of the two-game suspension the NFL handed down to Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back charged with hitting his wife back in February. On ESPN Radio’s “Mason & Ireland “ show, Kellerman admitted to hitting his girlfriend, now his wife, at a college party. From the Daily News:

Kellerman said they both had to much too drink. He said when he tried getting things under control his then-girlfriend slapped him. Kellerman said he slapped her back. He was quick to tell listeners that the woman is now is his wife and they have been happily married for 20 years.

Kellerman must have known he was entering dangerous territory with his story. But ESPN didn’t suspend the radio and television host for what he said, according to the report. According to the Post’s industry sources, Kellerman was suspended for not following an edict handed down by management at ESPN to avoid discussing Rice entirely. ESPN hosts have clearly had issues with the topic.

ESPN’s stance on Rice strikes me as the anti-Tim Tebow approach. Everything Tebow did was met with huge ratings, so the network piled on. Rice has also been a big story, but given that the NFL is such a vital partner for ESPN, it behooves them to steer clear of a story that could cast the league in a negative light. It also suggests that sideline reporter Sal Paolantonio’s softball question to Rice before a preseason game last week was dictated by the network in an attempt to make Rice more sympathetic.

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ESPN has yet to confirm that Kellerman was actually suspended, saying only that he returns to ESPN radio and to “Sportsnation” Thursday.