Well, he dared them.
Following a profanity-laced tirade in which he flat-out called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” on his podcast earlier this week, Bill Simmons of ESPN/Grantland has been suspended for three weeks by the network’s brass. Here’s the gist of what Simmons said that apparently got him in trouble…
“Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar. I’m just saying it. He is lying. If you put him up on a lie detector test, that guy would fail. For all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such f*cking bull$hit. It really is, it’s such f*cking bull$hit. For him to go into that press conference and pretend otherwise — I was so insulted.
I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell, because if one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone. The commissioner’s a liar and I get to talk about that on my podcast. Please, call me and say I’m in trouble. I dare you.”
And here’s the full audio of the anti-Goodell rant (Cousin Sal from Jimmy Kimmel Live is his sidekick here).
WELL, this evening, ESPN released the following statement…
“Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards. We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.”
Three weeks. That’s longer than the NFL originally suspended Ray Rice for punching out his fiancee. And ESPN makes billions off of its NFL coverage. Surely that has nothing to do with this, right?
*UPDATE: Things have heated up in the last hour as ESPN pulled the most recent Simmons podcast (the one ripping Roger Goodell) from their official podcast page. It is no longer available for download. In somewhat related news, ESPN also pulled the the ombudsman’s article praising OTL, Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons (among others) for their handling of the Ray Rice case.
Here is the cached version:
The network’s heavyweights — Keith Olbermann, Jason Whitlock and Bill Simmons, among others — delivered their own verbal punches; investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr. has beendriving the national media’s newsgathering; Bob Ley anchored smart and thoughtful discussions; and a roster of stars, including Jane McManus, Dan Le Batard, Hannah Storm, Andrew Brandt, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, offered information and insight.
I’d like to say I wasn’t the least bit surprised … but I was.
This was ESPN’s finest hour during my tenure as Ombudsman, in contrast to its darkest — thewithdrawal of the network’s imprimatur from the 2013 PBS broadcast “League of Denial.” It was widely speculated at that time, although without a smoking video, that the NFL had pushed ESPN to distance itself from the league’s attempt to squelch the scientific evidence that football was causing brain damage. The league had leverage — ESPN pays the league significant rights fees, but in turn generates substantial revenue against NFL content.