May 08, 2015

Bill Simmons Out at ESPN: Bill Simmons will be leaving ESPN when his current contract expires in September, the network announced. "I've decided that Iím not going to renew his contract," said ESPN skipper John President. "We've been talking to Bill and his agent and it was clear we weren't going to get to the terms." Last year Simmons was suspended three weeks after calling NFL Commissioner John Goodell a liar and daring ESPN to fire him. Dare accepted.

posted by rcade to general at 02:03 PM - 7 comments

Any time I tried to get into Simmons' work I ended up bailing because he wrote so long.

posted by rcade at 02:20 PM on May 08

It will be interesting to see how Grantland and 30 for 30 fare without him. I'm assuming they basically run themselves, but maybe not. Has anyone put Jalen Rose on suicide watch yet?

posted by yerfatma at 02:35 PM on May 08

From what I've read, Grantland is only keeping its head above water BECAUSE of the draw of Simmons. He's easily the #1 writer on the site, and if he goes then I think Grantland will die a slow death.

30 for 30 is probably okay on its own. It's a fantastic franchise.

posted by grum@work at 04:00 PM on May 08

ESPN (or at least its President) believes that Simmons isn't the main draw for Grantland anymore. From the lead NYT story:

"It long ago went from being a Bill Simmons site to one that can stand on its own," Skipper said.

posted by Etrigan at 06:30 PM on May 08

I have a bunch of non-Simmons things at Grantland that I read pretty regularly, and they're not just other things I click on after I'm done reading a Simmons article. The only Simmons pieces I even look forward to are his weekly NFL articles and picks. Since I don't care at all about NBA basketball, I pretty much have zero interest in anything else he does.

Otherwise, I like reading Bill Barnwell's NFL wrap-ups early in the week, Jonah Keri's baseball articles, recaps or articles about TV by Andy Greenwald, and I religiously follow Mark Titus' columns during college basketball season. I even enjoy some of Steve Hyden's music writing. I don't really do much with movies, but I've enjoyed Wesley Morris' articles when I've read them.

Even though I like Barnwell, when he took over Simmons' NFL picks columns while Simmons was on suspension last year, I did miss Simmons. Barnwell does a really good job with egghead statistical analysis, but I only need one column worth of that stuff a week. Simmons is kind of a self-aware doofus average Joe fan in his columns, which I usually get a kick out of.

posted by LionIndex at 07:33 PM on May 08

I have a bunch of non-Simmons things at Grantland that I read pretty regularly

Me too, but aren't all those writers there because of Simmons? The question now is whether they will stay.

posted by yerfatma at 10:06 PM on May 08

I think Simmons' greatest accomplishment has been the talent he has put together/curated/cultivated at Grantland (although who knows how much that is due to him vs. other editors/management), and agree with yerfatma that it will be interesting to see what they do. Suspect it will be governed in large part by what kind of contracts they have with Grantland and whether Simmons' agreement has any sort of non-solicit or other restrictive covenants that will keep him from poaching Grantland staff.

Will be interesting to see Simmons freed from the handcuffs of not being able to criticize ESPN -- its programming, other "talent," conflicts of interest and kid gloves treatment of its content licensors, making itself the story, etc. I suppose he's going to have quite a bit of motivation to rip them, and wherever he goes he will presumably have quite a big platform to do so and quite a big audience to hear/see/read it.

I can take or leave most of Simmons' writing (found this to be pretty humorous), but find myself reading quite a bit of Grantland content and curious to see how the life of that site plays out.

posted by holden at 11:35 AM on May 10

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