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Bill Simmons suspended by ESPN for criticizing Roger Goodell

Twitter snarls back with #FreeSimmons.


Ramon Ramirez

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 25, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 12:50 pm CDT

ESPN suspended Bill Simmons for three weeks Wednesday after the Grantland editor-in-chief made critical remarks about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday’s episode of The B.S. Report—calling him a “liar.”

Simmons also dared ESPN to suspend him during the same rant.

The episode of Simmons’s podcast, The B.S. Report, has been taken down by ESPN. Here’s the rant.

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 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.”

The best point that a lot of people have made about this is this is exactly why he fined and suspended Sean Payton for a season [for Bountygate]. Sean Payton was like, ‘I didn’t know.’ He [Goodell] was like, ‘Well ignorance [is not an excuse]’ and suspended him for a year. This is the same exact situation and it’s worse, because he knew and he’s a liar… I don’t like liars. I think that people who you know they are lying and they are lying anyway, those are the worst people.We know you are lying … Roger Goodell has no integrity whatsoever.

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. Thank you. … Please, call me and say I’m in trouble. I dare you.

ESPN has not clarified whether it’s a paid or unpaid suspension. But the suspension includes all of Simmons’s outlets: Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, and Grantland.

“Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards,” ESPN said in a statement. “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.”

The “journalistic standards” line sticks out as the network takes heat for covert tweaks to Friday’s Outside the Lines report on Ray Rice.

Sports Illustrated reports that the suspension stems from both “the nature of the personal attack” and “the challenge to his bosses.” Simmons and other ESPN personalities have been critical of Goodell in recent weeks and have faced no corporate sanctions.

The suspension of Simmons, one of ESPN’s most popular columnists and personas, inspired outcry from fans and trending hashtag, #FreeSimmons.

What exact “journalistic standard” did Bill Simmons – a personally branded columnist and analyst – violate? Speaking ill of the NFL?

— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) September 24, 2014

Irony: @BillSimmons‘ suspension is longer than Rice’s initial punishment. #freesimmons

— Janelle The Kay (@janelleruns) September 25, 2014

.@Mobute on Bill Simmons, ESPN, the NFL and the “high-five, we’re-crushing-it-bro market” #FreeSimmons

— Matt Sullivan (@sullduggery) September 25, 2014

Bill Simmons calls Goodell a liar: 3 weeks Stephen A Smith blames abused women for provoking their attacks: 1 week #FreeSimmons

— WhoDat in TN (@WhoDatTN) September 25, 2014

Wow, I guess someone actually CAN get swiftly and harshly punished for a recording that reflects poorly on the NFL #FREESIMMONS

— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) September 24, 2014

ESPN suspends Bill Simmons for calling Roger Goodell a liar, days after ESPN reported Roger Goodell is a liar

— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 25, 2014

Guessing ESPN’s real issue with #freesimmons was his implication that his overlords forbid any criticism of Goodell, not the critique itself

— David Murphy (@ByDavidMurphy) September 25, 2014

Screengrab via YouTube

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*First Published: Sep 25, 2014, 12:36 pm CDT