John Skipper Says He Fired Bill Simmons From ESPN for "Repeated Lack of Respect"
“Bill would rather spin conspiracy theories and be perceived as a martyr than take responsibility for his own actions," the network exec said.
The war of words between Bill Simmons and his former employer ESPN continues to rage.
Following a cover story interview with The Hollywood Reporter in which Simmons took multiple shots at the network that he spent almost 15 years at, ESPN President John Skipper fired back, making clear he fired the media personality and for exact cause.
“Bill would rather spin conspiracy theories and be perceived as a martyr than take responsibility for his own actions," Skipper said in a statement to the New York Times. "Let me be unequivocal and clear and take responsibility for my actions: I alone made the decision, and it had nothing to do with his comments about the commissioner. I severed our relationship with Bill because of his repeated lack of respect for this company and, more importantly, the people who work here.”
Simmons, who now has a lucrative deal to host a sports talk show on HBO, Any Given Wednesday, butted heads with ESPN brass numerous times while he worked there as a writer and on-air talent. Simmons also formed the once popular, now defunct website Grantland.
Simmons recently said most of his Grantland staff now works for his new site, The Ringer.
Toward the end of the tumultuous relationship with ESPN, Simmons, on air, dared his bosses to reprimand him after he criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Simmons was finally fired in May 2015.
Taking swings at ESPN when he recently talked to THR's TV editor Lacey Rose, Simmons said, "Ask yourself this: 'Who would work there that you respect right now?'"
Simmons issued an apology over social media the same day his interview was published, thanking numerous people in front of and behind the camera who he said were special talents. "My apologies for being a jackass," he said in the mea culpa.
Simmons, who is getting paid between $7 million and $9 million a year at HBO, two sources previously told THR, said he believed Skipper had several people whispering in the boss' ear that something needed to be done about his behavior, which ultimately lead to the split.
"It was f — ing high school," Simmons told THR.