Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has shared regret over his reaction to an NFL photographer’s horror fall that caused her to fracture her spine.
Viral video captured the moment Mr Stafford walked off seemingly unbothered when photographer Kelly Smiley slipped in front of him and his wife at the Rams Super Bowl Parade.
He addressed the incident candidly on his wife Kelly’s The Morning After podcast on Tuesday, saying: “I mean, that obviously happened really quickly and suddenly and unexpectedly, and wish I had a better reaction in the moment.”
Ms Stafford sought to defend her husband, claiming the video - which was captioned: “Stafford saw her fall and told Kelly to take care of it” - didn’t tell the whole story.
“We can’t not talk about what happened,” she explained on the podcast. “There was a photographer, who stepped off the back of the stage, had asked it we wanted a picture and I was like, ‘Yes,’ because looking back at my camera roll, I have literally zero of Matthew and I.
“When she offered, she stepped back and fell. And it was an awful, awful moment. Matthew looked at me and said: ‘Check her please,’ and turned around.”
Ms Stafford said she rushed over to Ms Smiley and “could see that she was okay”.
“We followed up with her,” she continued. “The moment we got in the car, Matthew actually looked at me and said: ‘Hey, will you contact the Rams, ask how she’s doing?’
“Did that, they’re like: ‘We think she’s going to be okay.’ We sent her flowers. Next day we wake up, not okay,” she added in apparent reference to Ms Smiley’s social media posts about fracturing her spine.
Ms Stafford said her husband “texted [Smiley] himself” to check in later on and apologized for his reaction.
“[It’s] one of those things you try to train your reactions to be a little bit better next time,” he said on the podcast.
Ms Stafford added: “I do know that the reaction that the world saw in that split second, I do know that’s not what you wish would have been your reaction.”
Late last week, Mr Stafford issued a joint statement with the Rams confirming that he would be covering Ms Smiley’s hospital bills.
“We have been in communication with Kelly Smiley since yesterday’s incident and we are sorry for what happened,” the statement said. “As we told Kelly, we will be covering all her hospital bills and replacing her cameras. We wish her a speedy recovery.”
The statement followed a barrage of criticism calling Mr Stafford selfish and uncaring.
“This photographer ended up fracturing her spine and [I don’t know] what is more concerning: The way that Stafford just turned around immediately without even looking to check if she’s okay or that every guy in the comments is like ‘well bro he didn’t push her it’s not his problem’,” one Twitter user said.
Others have also donated towards Ms Smiley’s treatment, with a GoFundMe page (which has now been paused) having raised more than $48,000 towards her treatment.
“Thank you to everyone who has donated time and money to help Kelly out! She is very thankful and is overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that has been shown. Kelly has been discharged from the hospital and is resting at home,” a message on the page said.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies