Matthew Stafford wishes he had responded more quickly after he witnessed photographer Kelly Smiley fall and injure herself at the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl victory parade last week.
The Rams quarterback, 34, and his wife, Kelly Stafford, opened up about the "awful" incident Tuesday on Kelly Stafford's podcast, "The Morning After."
In footage of the incident that went viral on social media, Smiley can be seen falling backward off a stage while trying to take a photo of the couple celebrating at the parade. Moments later, Kelly Stafford can be seen rushing to the edge of the stage to check on Smiley while Matthew Stafford appears to turn and walk away from the injured photographer.
Though the couple later offered to pay for Smiley's medical bills, Matthew Stafford was harshly criticized for not doing more in the moment to help Smiley. The photographer fractured her spine in the accident and also broke camera gear, according to a GoFundMe account set up to pay for her medical expenses.
"Obviously, we can’t not talk about what happened,” Kelly Stafford said during the couple's podcast conversation.
“There was a photographer who stepped off the back of the stage, had asked if 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,” she explained.
The mom of four said she went "straight to" Smiley to check on her condition, adding that her husband was just as concerned.
“Long story short, we followed up with her. 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 OK.’ We sent her flowers. Next day we wake up, (she's) not OK,” she explained.
"Matthew actually texted her himself," she added.
Kelly Stafford said she knew her husband regretted how his reaction looked in the viral video of the incident.
“I do know that the reaction that the world saw, right, in that split second, I do know that’s not what you wish would have been your reaction,” she said.
That's when Matthew Stafford chimed in to tell listeners that he would do it all differently if it such an accident ever happened again in his presence.
“Yeah, I mean, that obviously happened really quickly and suddenly and unexpectedly, and wish I had a better reaction in the moment," he said. "I didn't. I apologized to her for that, but glad that all in all she's doing all right."
The NFL star said he'd learned from the incident, calling it "one of those things you try to train your reactions to be a little bit better next time.”
Kelly Stafford agreed. "Life is about learning, and here we are," she said.
The Staffords and the Rams released a statement after the moment went viral.
“We have been in communication with Kelly Smiley since yesterday’s incident, and we are sorry for what happened,” the couple and the team said. “As we told Kelly, we will be covering all her hospital bills and replacing her cameras. We wish her a speedy recovery.”