Super Bowl champ accused of 'horrible' act after woman fractures spine
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been called out for his actions after a photographer fell from a stage and fractured her spine at the team's Super Bowl parade.
Celebrations took a horror twist on Wednesday when NFL photo editor Kelly Smiley fell backwards off the stage while photographing Stafford and wife Kelly.
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Smiley didn't appear to realise where the stage ended, reportedly plummeting about two metres and fracturing her spine.
While Kelly Stafford was quick to rush over and check that Smiley was ok, husband Matthew was seen mouthing "Oh my God" before turning his back and walking away.
@AdamSchefter get on Matthew Stafford watching a photographer fall of the stage at the Rams parade and walk away 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/LfjSJ3fzYy
— LoganTheHammer (@LoganTheHammer) February 16, 2022
It remains unknown whether Stafford was turning away to go and get help, however his reaction has been heavily criticised on social media.
Radio broadcaster Laura Steele tweeted: “I’m sorry but this is horrible! A photographer taking a pic of Stafford falls off stage right in front of him & he just walks away?
"I know he’s a good guy must have been a momentary lapse of reason?”
SNY anchor Chris Williamson wrote: “When people show you who they are, believe them. Being drunk is not an excuse to not show any concern (I hope he did at some point) for an individual who just fell 8 feet trying to take photos of you and your wife.”
Others defended Stafford and pointed out that he was most likely heavily intoxicated following the Rams' Super Bowl triumph over the Bengals on Sunday.
“I’m done listening to people criticising Stafford for not helping the girl," one fan wrote.
"I feel awful for her fracturing her spine but if you are going to act like Matthew Stafford’s a bad person now because he reacted and walked away since he was drunk out of his mind I don't know what to tell you.”
Smily later shared an update on her Instagram story, writing: "Feeling ok. Staying the night in the trauma centre.
"Thank you everyone for reaching out."
That’s me 😰. Waiting at the ER for X-ray results. Both my cameras broke but I’m ok https://t.co/TAjyicvn7L
— Kelly Smiley (@kellysmiley23) February 17, 2022
Los Angeles Rams to pay photographer's medical bills
The Rams later released a joint statement with Matthew and Kelly Stafford apologising for the incident and revealing they are covering the expenses for Smiley's hospital bills and her camera replacements.
Before the Rams announced they would cover Smiley's hospital bills, a friend started a GoFundMe page to help her out.
"Kelly is loved by all who know her and is a well-respected individual in the photography community," friend Tim Kothlow, who is also a photo editor at the NFL, wrote on the page.
Donations shot up as word of the GoFundMe spread through social media channels.
Over $43,000 had been raised at time of publishing, despite a $30,000 goal.
Stafford and his Rams teammates celebrated their Super Bowl championship with a victory parade and rollicking rally where they told thousands of cheering fans they would try to “run it back” and win again next year.
Fans lined sidewalks along the mile-long parade route as team members passed around the Lombardi Trophy, chugged champagne and waved from open-top double-decker buses that rolled to a plaza outside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Awaiting them was a sea of yellow and blue, a throng of supporters waving flags and decked out in Rams gear.
“It’s a testament to this team and the guys that are standing up here, the work that we put in, that we were able to bring this back to this city that demands nothing less than a world championship," said game MVP Kupp.
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