6 Times Bill Simmons Pissed Off His Bosses at ESPN
Prior to parting ways with the Worldwide Leader, the sports personality came under fire multiple times for making controversial statements.
Months after landing a three-week suspension from ESPN last fall, Bill Simmons will officially be parting ways with the network.
ESPN president John Skipper announced Friday that the network would not be renewing Simmons' contract, which is set to expire in September.
Since joining ESPN in 2001, Simmons has made a number of slip-ups that have caused him to come under public scrutiny from the network and spectators. Below are six of the sports personality's most provacative challenges to the network.
1. Going on the 'The Dan Patrick Show' and ripping NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Just one day prior to Skipper's announcement that Simmons' contract wouldn't be renewed, the sports analyst appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and denounced NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to wait until after the Ted Wells Report on the New England Patriots' Deflategate scandal had been released to take action. He noted that Goodell should have disciplined Tom Brady sooner, rather than gauging public reaction before making his decisions. "[Roger Goodell] has handled so many thing so badly that it’s reached the point now where, with something like this, it took four months to release the report, … and he knew everything that was in it," he said on-air. "He knows the results before the report is released to the public and yet he doesn’t have the testicular fortitude to do anything until he gauges public reaction." James Andrew Miller, the author of a history of ESPN, called the appearance a "tipping point" on Twitter.
2. Calling Roger Goodell "a liar."
During one of his popular B.S. Report podcasts recorded in September 2014, Simmons blasted Goodell for his response to the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal (in which footage of Rice abusing his then-wife was captured from an elevator camera). "I just think not enough is being made out of the fact that they knew about the tape and they knew what was on it. Goodell, if he didn't know what was on that tape, he's a liar. I'm just saying it. He is lying. I think that dude is lying. If you put him up on a lie detector test that guy would fail," Simmons said during the podcast, which was later pulled by the network (comments begin at the 4:05 mark in the above video). "For all these people to pretend they didn't know is such f—ing bullshit. It really is — it's such f—ing bullshit. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted." He went on to seemingly challenge ESPN to respond to his statements, saying, "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. Thank you. … Please, call me and say I'm in trouble. I dare you." Simmons received a three-week suspension from ESPN for his comments.
3. "Do I get to speak now?"
During a postgame segment following Game 4 of the 2014 NBA Finals last June, Simmons made a point to note how long it had taken for him to finally get a word in (which resulted in a disapproving head shake by host Sage Steele). "Do I get to speak now? It's been like 10 minutes," he noted.
4. Attacking fellow ESPN personality Skip Bayless on Twitter.
In March 2013, the sports columnist was suspended from Twitter for criticizing an interview that had aired on ESPN's talk show First Take. Simmons noted on social media that he disapproved of the network's decision to air the segment, which showed commentator Skip Bayless engaging in a heated argument with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. "I am not defending this segment. … I thought it was awful and embarrassing to everyone involved. Seriously," he tweeted, before following up with another tweet that read, "But what bothers me about the reaction to that segment is people saying Richard Sherman 'won.' Nobody won. Everyone lost. Including ESPN."
5. Being too honest in Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN
According to book excerpts published on Deadspin, Simmons called out several of his ESPN colleagues in the 2011 book Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, co-written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. On the topic of ESPN announcers, he stated, "Nobody on the planet watches a sports game for the f—ing announcers. ... Mike Tirico could leave tomorrow and we could replace him with Mike Greenberg or one of forty other guys, and the ratings would not budge .00001. Nobody watches for Mike Tirico. Zero. No one."
6. Calling a Mike & Mike segment "absolute garbage"
Simmons went on a Twitter tirade in November 2014 after ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike co-host Mike Golic took aim at him during a segment of the morning show. Golic openly disagreed with a comment Simmons had made regarding Lebron James' less-than-stellar performance on the court, calling his claims "ridiculous" and simply a way for the sports personality to grab headlines. "I think it's one of the most ridiculous statements I've heard four games into a season in my life in any sport," he said. "Oh, you know, he grabbed a headline — which is something I know he loves." Simmons took to Twitter to respond to Golic's remarks, which he referred to as "absolute garbage." See all of the tweets below:
What Mike and Mike did today was absolute garbage. I would say I lost respect for that show, but I never had it. http://t.co/LRd8YzFfO8— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 6, 2014
For an ESPN Radio show to pull an interview out of context from another ESPN Radio show, then play the moral authority card, is disgusting.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 6, 2014
Have the balls to call me to discuss it on the show. Don't pull it out of context just because you need fodder for a segment. Pathetic.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 6, 2014