On Friday, the outspoken sports analyst talked with former Grantland staff writer, now New York Times critic at large, Wesley Morris and said ESPN did not support Grantland, the website started by Simmons.
“Websites are like plants, you got to water them,” he said. “Unfortunately, ESPN is good at building stuff and creating stuff, launching stuff, but there comes a point where you have to decide what does this mean, how can we get from point A to point B to point C to point D to point E. We weren’t even on their mobile page until I think January. We just had this tiny little hyperlink at the bottom of the ESPN.com mobile site.”
Simmons said Grantland was understaffed, but everyone did what they could to make it a success.
“People just really gave a shit,” he said. “And they really worked as hard as possible to get that site up and to make it good.”
“You see, when they launched Scott Van Pelt’s [new edition of SportsCenter] show; a ton of ads, a ton of resources, they blow it out and try to make it succeed,” Simmons said. “I think all of us felt like these guys weren’t trying to make us [at Grantland] succeed, which is a weird feeling when everyone is busting their ass.”
Grantland is now run by interim editor Chris Connelly.
The latest Simmons’ ESPN criticism comes just one day after he ripped the network for, in his opinion, its soft coverage of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the Deflategate scandal.
“Especially in the weeks after the broken cell phone thing, when it came out that they had obviously leaked stuff, that something really legitimately shady was going on, and yet if you went to ESPN you didn’t see anything,” Simmons said. “It was just hard to come away from that and not think that ESPN is in the bag for the NFL, because they were.”
Simmons was dropped by ESPN in May after an almost 15-year stint. While an employee, he criticized the network publicly numerous times. His new show on HBO will premiere next year.
A spokesman for ESPN declined to comment on Simmons’ Friday remarks.