Ravens WR Steve Smith suggests he was pulled over for being black

Recently signed Ravens wide receiver was pulled over during a radio interview with Dan Lebatard and suggested the reason was racial.

He may be kidding, or perhaps he's indicating something else.

It's just odd the Ravens own web site essentially reports the incident without calling attention to what Smith said. Considering the implications of it, it will be hard to avoid the likely reaction it will generate.

Newly signed Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith was driving while on his cell phone being interviewed on the Dan Lebatard Show on ESPN Radio. Smith was pulled over by area police during the interview, and he remained on hold while police questioned him.

As transcribed by the Ravens' team web site:

Smith: “Oh. See, you guys got me in trouble. I’m getting pulled over by the police.”

Host: “Right now? While we are talking to you?”

Smith: “Yup.”

Host: “Were you speeding?”

Smith: “No, I’m not speeding. I guess I’m on my cellphone. … How about I keep you on hold while I go through the procedure?”

It wasn’t a long wait.

Smith was only gone for about three and a half minutes. At the 4:25 mark in the audio below, Smith returns and is unsure of why he was pulled over. He said it was not for talking on his cellphone.

Host: “You must have gotten out of the ticket if you’re back that fast, right?”

Smith: “Hey, when you don’t have any warrants or prior arrests, it goes a long way with being a good citizen.”

Host: “Did you drop the Steve Smith card at all?”

Smith: “No I didn’t. My ID does that."

Host: “Does your ID say NFL wide receiver? Is the cop a football fan?”

Smith: “No, my ID is cleared as no priors. So I was good.”

Host: “What did you get in trouble for? Being on the cellphone?”

Smith: “Nah, you know. Uuuuh, hey, a brother driving a nice car … You know, sometimes they got to make sure … [inaudible] … all matches up.”

He didn't say it but his comments are clearly suggestive he was pulled over as the result of racial profiling. State law in Maryland prohibits the use of a cell phone to one's ear while driving - a handless device is required, and Smith doesn't indicate whether he had one in or not. Either way, it's a secondary offense, meaning a driver cannot be pulled over specifically because s/he's on a cell phone. A driver can be issued a citation for being on the phone if an officer noticed the driver was on the phone while in violation of another offense (speeding, for example). It is a primary offense for drivers to use cell phones while driving without a handsless device.

The fact he made the comments while on a national radio show makes it even more bizarre. It's either a testament to something that's really wrong, or a flippant way for Smith to pass off any reason he may have been pulled over for any kind of moving violation.

We won't judge, without the full context it's hard to make any conclusions, except to say we hope his comments were made in jest, even if that isn't the best joke to make. It would still be better than either alternative.

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