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ESPN talent Bill Simmons seems itching for a fight — with his own network.
Simmons obliquely taunts his employer, daring someone from the network to take him to task for slamming the NFL commissioner on his podcast The B.S. Report, one of ESPN’s most popular podcasts.
“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,” Simmons says 3:05 minutes into his Sept. 22 podcast.
At the outset, Simmons had ripped into Goodell, saying: “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. 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. … When you’re the leader, you’re in charge, that’s it.”
Simmons has previously been disciplined by ESPN by being suspended from Twitter for critiquing other ESPN properties: First Take in 2013, and one of its radio affiliates in 2009.
The NFL and ESPN are enmeshed in a delicate tangle of business interests, namely Monday Night Football. In 2004, ESPN pulled its critically acclaimed scripted show Playmakers off the schedule amid reports that the NFL had complained about the content. The league reportedly claimed the show was unrealistic for depicting “steroid use, a gay football player, and a domestic violence incident involving a running back,” according to a letter in Simmons’ “Goodell-Must-Go-Bag” on his ESPN-affiliated site Grantland. To which Simmons replied, “One more time, let’s hear it, ladies and gents … put your hands together and salute the Roger Goodell Era!”
Through his publicist, Simmons declined comment.
Another ESPN commentator, Keith Olbermann, has been equally, if not more vociferous in his condemnation of the NFL and Goodell.
An ESPN spokesman declined to comment on Simmons specifically, but tells THR, “We demonstrate every day through our content offerings that our commitment to journalism is uncompromised and that church and state clearly exists at ESPN when it comes to journalism and our business relationships with the leagues.”
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