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The Real Reason ESPN Suspended Goodell Critic Bill Simmons

The Real Reason ESPN Suspended Goodell Critic Bill Simmons

If you have any interest in the NFL, and the Ray Rice/what-did-Roger-Goodell-know-and-when-did-he-know-it case, then you have probably heard ESPN contributor Bill Simmons’s f-bomb-laced rant on the topic.

Simmons, who edits the sports and entertainment website Grantland and comments on the NBA on ESPN and ABC, called out the NFL commissioner for allegedly lying about the Rice video. ESPN announced its suspension of Simmons for “failing to operate within ESPN’s journalist standards,” which is ironic on the merits. The implication is clear: ESPN’s journalistic standards stop short of flat-out calling Goodell a liar–at least at this point. Simmons does not.

“Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar,” insisted Simmons. “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.”

And Simmons was just getting warmed up. “For all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such f—ing bulls—,” added Simmons. “It really is — it’s such f—ing bulls—. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted. I really was.” 

Publicly, those statements are why ESPN sanctioned Simmons. There is more to the story, however. Simmons continued his rant, taunting the very company that pays him handsomely and makes him and his website relevant. “I really hope somebody calls me or emails me [from ESPN] and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell,” dared Simmons, adding that “if one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone. He’s [Goodell] a liar, and I get to talk about that.”

Well, Simmons did not have to go public, as ESPN beat him to the punch with their suspension announcement, which appeared as one of the feature stories on ESPN’s homepage. I think it’s pretty clear that Simmons’s public goading of the ESPN suits is what really earned him the suspension. After all, he may be proven correct about Goodell on the merits–which ESPN must know–and many of his comrades at the network have indicated they believe the same thing. 

None of those commentators dared ESPN to “call or email,” however. Simmons did, and ESPN answered. I’ve no love lost for ESPN and the various liberal causes they pollute their sports network with, but they are the only reason Simmons is known or relevant.



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