Bill Simmons Suspended After Baiting ESPN With Roger Goodell Rant

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ESPN announced Wednesday that it suspended commentator Bill Simmons for three weeks, after the Grantland editor-in-chief dared the company to punish him for comments he made about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Speaking Monday on his podcast The B.S. Report, Simmons alleged that Goodell was lying when he said that he wasn’t aware of surveillance video that reportedly showed ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious. He went on to bait ESPN into punishing him for criticizing the commissioner.

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

ESPN has since removed Simmons’ podcast from its website, but Business Insider archived audio of his comments.

“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,” Simmons said. “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 f*cking bullsh*t. It really is, it’s such f*cking bullsh*t. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted.”

He later challenged ESPN to reprimand him for calling Goodell a “liar.”

“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, thank you. Please, call me and say I’m in trouble. I dare you.”

An ESPN spokesman confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Simmons’ suspension applies to his Twitter account.

Simmons’ suspension is also two weeks longer than that of Stephen A. Smith, an ESPN commentator who was also punished for his comments about the Ray Rice incident. In response to Rice’s initial two-game suspension for allegedly assaulting his then-fiancee, Smith had suggested that women shouldn’t try to “provoke” domestic violence.

Listen to Simmons’ comments:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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