Dare Taken: ESPN Suspends Bill Simmons for Blasting Roger Goodell
Bill Simmons absolutely blasted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on his podcast on Monday, calling Goodell a “liar” and saying that the NFL’s veil of secrecy surrounding its Ray Rice investigation is “such fucking bullshit.”
Now the other shoe has dropped — ESPN announced on Wednesday evening that it has suspended its star columnist for three weeks.
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 fucking bullshit. It really is — it’s such fucking bullshit. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted. I really was.
He also essentially appeared to ask management at ESPN to suspend him for his comments.
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.
Looks like ESPN took that dare.
ESPN did not immediately respond to Mashable‘s request for further comment on the reasons behind the three-week ban. It’s unclear whether Simmons’ suspension was because he attacked Goodell so vehemently, cursed repeatedly or essentially begged management to slap him on the wrist. The company’s announcement reads:
Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards. We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.
An ESPN spokesperson did confirm that Simmons’ three-week suspension includes behind-the-scenes work at Grantland, the Simmons-led spinoff site ESPN launched in 2011. Simmons began at ESPN in 2001, became a sports-media demigod for his conversational, opinionated writing style and is widely seen as the company’s biggest star. About an hour after ESPN announced his suspension on Wednesday, the hashtag #FreeSimmons became a worldwide Twitter trend.
ESPN is a major broadcast partner of the NFL, but has not flinched in covering the league’s current crisis of domestic violence, public image and credibility. A blockbuster report from two ESPN writers last Friday night, for example, raised serious questions about how the league and Baltimore Ravens handled their investigation of Rice knocking out his then-fiancée in a casino elevator last February. That report has since met some controversy of its own, but nonetheless remains a hard-hitting, damning piece.
This isn’t Simmons’ first time drawing the ire of ESPN management. He was suspended from Twitter in March 2013 for blasting the network’s controversial First Take show, and also suspended from Twitter in 2009.
Simmons’ most recent social media post is an Instagram photo from Tuesday teasing his NBA preview podcast with the caption, “Quiet on the set!”