As you’ve no doubt heard a million times already, Last night ESPN suspended former Boston Sports Guy Bill Simmons for three weeks following his podcast comments about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The criticism of Goodell probably isn’t what got Simmons suspended, as others at the network have expressed similar (though more guarded) sentiments about the situation.

What got Simmons suspended was his dare to ESPN management:

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.

He  later repeated Please, call me and say I’m in trouble. I dare you.

ESPN took him up on his dare, and now Simmons is suspended until October 15th. No writing, appearances, Twitter or Facebook.

The network is making an example out of Simmons after being criticized for its discipline of employees in the past, especially given the outcry when Stephen A Smith was given just a one-week suspension for his comments about Janay Rice.

This is actually not unlike the reaction of Goodell following criticism over the two-game suspension to Ray Rice, he then dished out a much harsher punishment and vowed to revamp the league’s entire policies. It’s worth noting that Simmons has received a longer suspension that was originally given to Ray Rice for his actions.

The issue zoomed to the top of topics trending on Twitter last night, with the hashtag #freeSimmons leading the way.

The question now is, does Simmons actually “go public” on this matter? What does that entail? Will he follow through on it?

More from SI’s Richard Deitsch – ESPN suspends Bill Simmons for criticism of Roger Goodell


36 thoughts on “When Bill Simmons Said He Would Go Public If Disciplined.

  1. My interpretation of what happened, someone from ESPN called him before the PodCast and probably said “tread lightly, about the Goodell thing….then just focus on the games/spreads like usual.”

    And that pissed Simmons off, and that is the “go public” thing….the man trying to edit/filter what I say etc.

    1. I heard someone on one of the morning shows say the same.

      No matter the case, it’s kinda a moment of reckoning for Simmons.

      If he does come out and talk about what we can assume are confidential, internal memos about going soft on not just the NFL but anything ESPN holds rights to, he’s most likely out of a job at ESPN (I’d think he would be unemployed for a few weeks because another network would like his following). If he doesn’t say something, he gets exposed as a fraud.

      Interesting choice there.

      1. if he walks or they fire hime, they’d lose an army social media followers with a younger more coveted 18-35yo male demographic, while appeasing middle-aged male executives @ espn & the NFL. Sponsors go where the target demographics lay, and media outlets go where the sponsors put their dollars. Canning Simmons would be colossal mistake on their part.

        1. Jesus, man, he has an audience, but come on. ESPN was huge before him. They’ll be huge without him. Get a grip.

        2. Simmons might be a bigger personality there but nobody is bigger than the Mouse, nor would they ever let anyone be bigger than it. ESPN does dumb things but isn’t stupid.

  2. I think Simmons has really painted himself into a corner here. He threatened ESPN, they called his bluff, now we will have to see if he “retaliates” by “going public” whatever the hell that means. Because if he doesn’t, he comes off like an absolute punk, no credibility at all. However, if he does, come back swinging, and does even more damage to the mothership, does he risk throwing his career away? I have no idea how long he has left on his current contract with ESPN, but imagine if they Opie and Anthony’d him. Just paid him to not be on anything. That’s what happened to O&A after the sex for Sam incident, and you could make the argument that their careers have never been the same. (As a side note I was a huge fan of them until the show got destroyed in July.)

    That would have to be the worst case scenario for a guy like Simmons who has made a good living essentially giving his opinion on everything from sports to pop culture and politics. If he had to sit for 3 years with no twitter or Facebook posts, no columns, or podcasts, I would have to think that would do irreparable damage to his brand. Far worse than getting fired, and having the opportunity to jump ship to Fox, CBS, or SI.

    I for one used to really enjoy him back in 02, 03 and 04, but as the years wore on I found myself not enjoying his takes as much as I used to. To the point that I just stopped caring what he wrote or said at all. I have checked in on Grantland from time to time, but it’s just not the same anymore. I definitely don’t hate him the way others seem to, I just don’t care anymore, and for media personalities I have to think that’s worse.

    1. Simmons’ contract expires 2015-2016, as does the NBA’s contract w/ ESPN, he won’t stay if NBA jumps the Mothership. Simmons has 2 NYT BestSellers, he arguably produces the most important & substantial material for ESPN with his 30 for 30 Emmy Winning documentary series, and he brings eyeballs to through his sports-popculture website, Grantland, which was a name he was forced to compromise on. He has the money and gravitational pull to walk from ESPN and startup his own sports/popculture content driven website and bring all the most important writers and contributors (from Bill Barnwell to Malcom Gladwell) with him to do so. ESPN needs him more than other way around at this point, & he knows it , thus his defiance. His suspension only serves to magnify his brand and bring more eyeballs to his podcast, website, on-air commentary…

      1. Do you know who published those “books?” ESPN. How much input do you think Simmons has on those 30 for 30s? Not much. He had the idea for the series. Don’t take the title of producer literally, though. Now, I agree he has the money and the audience to walk away from ESPN and start his own site. But ESPN owns 30 for 30. They own Grantland too. I’m sure they’d like to keep BS around, but they certainly don’t need him. You’re obviously a fan of Simmons, so ask yourself: Why doesn’t the great and powerful Bill just up and leave ESPN? As you said, he doesn’t need them. The answer is, to paraphrase Pedro Martinez, ESPN is his daddy. That’s right, BS is under contract with the World Wide Leader. So, if he quits, then ESPN could and would say, OK but don’t think about producing one iota of content in any form until 2017. ESPN has the man by the balls. Don’t believe me? Well, take note of how quiet Bill has been lately. Exactly. This ploy of his to get fired won’t work. ESPN will bury his career before they let him have his way.

        1. Which is why I brought up the O&A comparison. When they
          got fired for sex for Sam they were huge, syndicated in 16 markets. The radio
          conglomerate they worked for new they could jump ship move to mornings and at
          least put a good dent in Sterns ratings so the simply kept paying them and they
          were not allowed to be on the air or do press. By the time they came back to satellite
          radio it had been almost 2 years since they were last on the air. They had a
          great deal of success after that but it was never the same for them. If Simmons
          pushes this I think Disney not ESPN just sits on him until his contract is up.
          2 years is a very long time in today’s I want it now world, his brand would take
          a tremendous hit.

      2. I don’t think it’s that easy just to start up a new content website or multimedia empire and actually make real money. There really aren’t any models that have proven to work, besides Glen Beck’s. He would need investors (which he could probably get) and I don’t know if he wants to go that route. He certainly has no experience in raising $ and keeping investors happy. He would also need to build a new business team to generate revenue and operate the business side, which he now has with ESPN execs. Simmons has also always railed against charging users for content, so it would need to rely on ad revenue, which is difficult.
        His best bet is to go a competitor like Fox Sports or NBC Sports (or maybe a surprise player like HBO or Amazon) and have a similar model to what he has now at Grantland. He could have a content website on a smaller scale with a few writers and some limited podcasts and video, but he won’t have the documentaries or cross-over media opportunities (which are now more limited on ESPN). And i think he would view a small scale website as a real step back in prestige and influence, even if he personally could make more money in the long run.

        1. I agree, he could start his own site but it would never come close to the platform that ESPN provides. But this is BS we’re talking about. He doesn’t recognize the vital part that ESPN plays in his success and popularity. Insanely, he thinks that they’re holding him back. The company that gave him a national audience when all he had was a regional specific blog. The company that published his 2 books which were simply composed of reworked articles he had already written. The company that put him on TV despite the sound of his voice. I understand that the guy has a loyal following, but without ESPN he is not in the position that he is today.

          1. I always thought that he liked being part of the NBA crew on ABC more than anything, especially hanging with Jalen Rose and others. Maybe I’m wrong because he loses that if he loses the ESPN job, which is what he seems to be trying to do. What is he going to cover on Fox, NASCAR? Football? He knows nothing about both. I know he’s popular and well liked (I liked him 12 years ago) but I know more people today who can’t stand him than who like him.

          2. Have you seen him on those NBA broadcasts? The Sage Steele/”Do I get to talk now?! It’s been like 10 minutes!” incident that was mentioned earlier is the perfect example of the guy’s inflated sense of self. He thinks people are tuning in to listen to him. He thinks that he could be even bigger if ESPN weren’t holding him back. It’s pretty loathsome. It’s why I hope ESPN just puts the guy in mothballs for the next 2 or 3 years.

  3. I am convinced the NFL and ESPN were most concerned that Simmons interrupted and distracted the audience from the podcast’s intended discussion about NFL gambling spreads. Clearly the NFL doesn’t care about domestic violence and everyone knows Goodell lied. What else could it be?

  4. This is BS trying to get out of his ESPN contract. He’s doing a rip off of Howard Stern in the last 2 years of his terrestrial radio career. And BS clearly thinks he is the Stern of sports media. The guy’s ego has its own gravitational pull. ESPN owns him for at least a few more years, I assume, and they won’t fire him. They’ll ruin his career by relegating him to silence. And what’s he going to reveal? That ESPN told its employees not to criticize Goodell? That’s like Mountain Dew not bashing Pepsi in its commercials. Why would ESPN crap on a product that it’s invested in? Yawn, Simmons.

    1. “The guy’s ego has its own gravitational pull.” That line is all kinds of awesomeness rolled into one neat eight-word package. Bravo. As for Simmons, I’ve always given him an enormous amount of credit for essentially turning himself into a semi-giant in sports media without ever having a real job besides bartending. It takes a lot of gumption and stick-to-it-iveness to do what he’s been able to do with his career just by using the internet, basically. With that said, I’ve never felt the guy knew much about sports beyond the NBA. Clearly, he understands basketball, but I wouldn’t give you five cents for his opinions about sports, nor would I waste even a penny to hear him blabber on about his political and other views on life. And his writing style gets annoying pretty quick, if you ask me. How many pop culture references can you read before you realize that the guy really doesn’t have all that much to say that’s interesting—again, aside from his NBA takes, which certainly are informed.

      1. Know why he never had a real job besides bartender? Because he comes from money! No gumption or stick-to-it-iveness whatsoever. Just arrested development. He never needed a real job because daddy the school administrator and mommy the doctor were always there to fall back on. Bill Simmons would have a tit job as a high school English teacher right now if ESPN hadn’t given him a job and a platform to become what he is today.

        1. I never knew much about his background. I know he used to carry on and on about how he was five or six years out of college, in his late 20s and just bartending for a living, all depressed and stuff, and then one day he just decided to “give this journalism thing one more shot” by launching the “Boston Sports Guy” blog. Through his various writings it’s easy to ascertain, however, that his father had season tickets to the Celtics very close to the court during his entire childhood. Even back then, that took some dough. It’s likely that Simmons used that “I was just a poor bartender” schtick in order to convince the readers that he was “just a regular guy” like them.
          Like I said before, I’m not a huge fan. I’ll listen to what he has to say about NBA stuff, because that’s his one real area of expertise. Otherwise, I pretty much tuned him out a long time ago, and I’m glad I did, because based on some of the snippets I have read from him in the last few years, he’s gone full into full drama queen more on some of the “social consciousness” issues in sports like PED use in baseball, concussions in the NFL, etc. I certainly don’t need a guy like Simmons preaching to me, or telling me what to think about stuff like that.

          1. Yeah, look at where he was born, grew up, and went to school. Those are facts that he can’t argue. His history beyond grad school is a picture that he can paint in any way that he pleases. And you’re right, he tries to portray himself as a blue collar, hardworking, from the streets, pulled himself up by his bootstraps type. But it’s bullshit. The irony is that he whitewashes his background in the same way that ESPN tries to whitewash their business connections with the major sports leagues.

  5. I’m just disappointed that this is distracting us from focusing on how Roger Goodell is a lying, arrogant, incompetent ass.

  6. looks like Simmons was trying to make a, “Grandstand play” to me… Haven’t watched but guessing some of the blowhards on, “Around The Horn” have been highly critical of Goodell…..Simmons tried to play the, “LOOK AT ME!” card by dropping some cuss words and issuing a “DARE”…. opps!… who looks the fool now? If he really had some juicy things to “go public” with ESPN probably wouldn’t have suspended him….count me among those who enjoyed Simmons early works but as he got bigger his work went downhill IMO

  7. Remember during The Finals last year when he was a whiny, sniveling, b!tch and looked at Sage Steele and said “Do I get to talk now?” Wah wah wah. I really have a deep burning hatred for Bill Simmons. He just….sucks.

  8. Much ado about nothing. Seriously. Simmons has a tantrum. He gets suspended. He accepts suspension quietly. He stews. Then what. He goes public with what…a memo from ESPN saying we need to keep Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, AP and NFL commentary professional? Yeah that is going to get the masses all stirred up after Simmons accuses Goodell of lying. Goodell may have and probably did lie. The english language is full of conditional tense words that allow you to make that point without directly accusing someone. Simmons prides himself on being a writer…I would think he would know those words; if not they include: if, could be, would be might be, allege, sort of, and IN MY OPINION.

    For the next few days people will opine and gnash their teeth, forgetting the actual crimes of the NFL. Oh wait, there is a report that the police officer actually sent the elevator tape directly to the head of NFL security. And we are back…

  9. Even though most of the embers on the Simmons suspension have cooled, TBL wrote a story on the ‘end game’ between him and ESPN last night:

    The old guard has its fingers crossed they can pester and annoy Simmons to the point that he pulls the trigger on a plan they claim he’s been mulling after spending so much time in Hollywood: decamp from ESPN to a venture capital-backed solo operation with contributions from his West Coast buddies Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla.

    1. The bit about 538 is interesting. I’ve been greatly disappointed by 538 as well — because they (ESPN) don’t appear to have understood why people read Nate Silver’s writing. It’s because he goes in depth on the issues he tackles. So, of course, they gave him a website where every article is a glib, quick-pass analysis of whatever it’s talking about. Hugely disappointing.

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