The cold war between ESPN and its former employee, Bill Simmons, seems to be cooling a bit. Simmons, who very publicly left ESPN after his contract expired in 2015 — effectively ending the site’s Grantland vertical in the process — went on to start his own The Ringer venture.
Simmons, who was instrumental in the creation of ESPN’s 30 For 30 documentary series, also partnered with HBO to keep creating sports documentaries and other pop culture content. Both parties have been fine without each other, but the many public battles Simmons waged between he and ESPN executives, some even while he was still working for the Four Letter, were certainly interesting to watch from the outside.
Which is why his return to the network this week is so notable. On Monday, Simmons announced that he would return to a role he once had often while working at ESPN: as a guest host on the network’s Pardon The Interruption. Simmons announced the return on Twitter on Monday when he shared a picture of him sitting next to Tony Kornheiser
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) September 16, 2019
Simmons is an unabashed fan of “Uncle Tony,” as fans call him, so his reasons for returning are pretty obvious. But Simmons ever showing up on ESPN again was certainly in doubt after the way he left the network in the first place. And the detente was acknowledged by some at ESPN as well. Bill Hofheimer of ESPN PR tweeted the news with the hashtag #neversaynever.
What a trifecta of events the past 10 days on ESPN:
🎙️ 9/6 – Patrick & Olbermann reunite on SportsCenter
🎙️ 9/15 – Berman & Jackson relaunch NFL PrimeTime on ESPN+
🎙️ Today, @BillSimmons is back on ESPN, co-hosting @PTI w/ Tony Kornheiser -530p ET#NeverSayNever pic.twitter.com/7WqYabCfy1
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) September 16, 2019
Simmons had appeared on PTI a number of times in the past and always did a fine job no matter which host he was temporarily replacing. It will be a lot of fun to see him with Tony, and I’m sure there will be some jokes addressing his somewhat unlikely return to ESPN on Monday night. We’ll keep you posted.