ESPN is very lucky Bill Simmons hasn’t left Bristol—yet


Apparently, there are things that you can and can’t do when on the Bristol campus. And, there are things that certain personalities can get away with and can’t get away with even if they are the exact same thing.

Recently, on one of Bill Simmons’ “BS Report” podcast, he went in on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence controversy. Simmons did not mince words when mentioning how much Goodell has botched the whole process.

Simmons said, among other things, that if Goodell were to take a lie detector test, he would fail, described the idea that no one in the league knew about the elevator video as “such F*****G B***S***” and dared ESPN brass to throw the book at him over his Goodell take.

"“I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell,” Simmons said. “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.”"

Well, Simmons…ESPN has apparently said that you’re in trouble. We await public remarks straight from Grantland.

This is not the first time that ESPN has thrown the book at Simmons. He was once reprimanded for Bristol brass for daring to do the unthinkable—call out “First Take” talking heads Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.

Let us also remember an occasion where ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski used profanity during a Monday Night Football telecast and nothing happened to him. Michael Wilbon once bellowed out the n-word on Pardon the Interruption, and if my memory serves me correctly, a grand total of zero happened to Mr. Wilbon.

In addition, profanity has been regularly used on ESPN’s podcasts in the past. I have listened to a few, and while they may be bleeped out, we know exactly what words are behind those edits.

So, how is it that ESPN suspend Simmons for three weeks? They claim that “journalistic integrity” was compromised. Except that Bill Simmons was not reporting on Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice (or Adrian Peterson) cases. Simmons was giving his opinion, just as Mike & Mike, Colin Cowherd, Scott Van Pelt, and Paul Finebaum do on a daily basis on their nationally syndicated radio shows.

Looks like another case of ESPN continuously covering up the backside of someone it has an airtight business relationship with. The NFL big time pays the bills of many who work and play on the Bristol campus. In a sense, they are covering to protect their boss, despite him being eviscerated in the free forum of ideas known as social media.

In addition, how ironic that ESPN seemed to be more swift in suspending Bill Simmons than either the NFL or the Baltimore Ravens were in throwing the book at Ray Rice for an actual crime—domestic violence. If only the Ravens (and especially the NFL) were as serious about this issue as the Worldwide Leader apparently is about swear words on an internet podcast.

I thought it was supposed to be sticks and stones that broke bones, but words weren’t supposed to harm.
ESPN is responsible for a lot of brand-building among sports journalists. Many aspiring sports journalists all have dreams of hoping to make it big at the Worldwide Leader because they feel as if they arrive at the four-letter network, they have “made it”.

Simmons is one of those personalities whose brand is virtually enhanced by who it is he works for.

So, why should Simmons, who has constantly been the subject of grief from brass at ESPN over the years, continue to take it where the sun doesn’t shine from them?

If anything, when Simmons issued that dare to ESPN, he knew exactly what he’s doing. Simmons is not stupid. One does not become the editor in chief of an extremely successful sports-n-things website by being a dummy.

We only have to wonder if Simmons actually decides to go public and spill the beans on what goes on behind the scenes at the Worldwide Leader. Something tells me someone such as Simmons will have a lot of stories to tell if he ever were to do so.

It is also safe to say that those who even support Simmons at ESPN are a little bit timid in doing so thanks to the realm of social media. When Simmons was suspended for his take on First Take, Michelle Beadle (who was at NBC at the time) tweeted her support for him. Tonight—Beadle only tweets a picture of a baby scratching his head.

Even many of her own followers are prodding her to say something. She was very bold in dissing Stephen A. Smith for his take on the Rice scandal.

Keith Olbermann, who has no problem calling out whoever and whatever that breathes, also has been notably silent on the Simmons suspension. He did comfortably mention his own show’s contract renewal and the fact that they’ve inked a sponsorship deal with a car company.

Bye, Felicia!

As for Simmons, his stature has grown to the point where he no longer needs ESPN. If anything, they need more personalities like him that are still willing to put up with some of their draconian rules, including which radio shows that they can and cannot do appearances with.

If Simmons were to be fired by ESPN, he would have several job offers within 24-hours to do programs. NBC Sports Radio is one of just many outlets that could use the input of such a personality. Every sports media outlet in Boston, given his fandom of the sports teams that call the city of Beans home, would be dumb to not give this man a call if he were to become a “free agent”.

Those on the social media blogosphere that have referred to the Simmons suspension as the “Obi-Wan Kenobi” edict nailed it. This will only make him stronger because of his popularity, website, and brand. The next time Simmons does a podcast, it will be arguably his most listened to bit ever, because everyone (possibly including myself) will be waiting to hear if he takes any and all shots at ESPN.

Because the real “BS Report” isn’t the one offered by Bill Simmons. It’s the one that was handed down today courtesy of so-called “leaders” at the Worldwide Leader.