Bill Simmons leaving ESPN

This is a big deal. Big enough that the NYT sent a news alert.

Wonder what happens to Grantland? It’s one of my favorite sites on the web.

That is all I care about here. Grantland is my only sports site I read articles on. Some fantastic stuff there. Would hate to see it go away.

ESPN’s John Skipper says Grantland can stand on its own without Simmons.

“I decided today that we are not going to renew Bill Simmons’ contract. We have been in negotiations and it was clear it was time to move on. ESPN’s relationship with Bill has been mutually beneficial - he has produced great content for us for many years and ESPN has provided him many new opportunities to spread his wings. We wish Bill continued success as he plans his next chapter. ESPN remains committed to Grantland and we have a strong team in place.”

Skipper said that the differences between the company and Simmons were “about more than money,” although he would not offer details.

Feels like one side here is making a big mistake. I just don’t know which side that is.

ESPN is always willing to let talent go when they start to get bigger than the network. They practically print their own money so they have no need for overpaid prima donnas who are more than happy to bite the hand that feeds them (Keith O. and Dan P. are good examples). Plus, they are a Disney company and Bill likes to dabble in the blue end of the pool.

I have always felt that Bill is a better writer than a radio or TV talent since his off the cuff and unedited remarks are frequently way off base. He can be funny, but his jokes generally need to cook a little longer and get polished. I love 30:30 and Grantland, but Simmons should just be satisfied with helping them get off the ground and stop believing that they cannot exist without him. Bill needs to understand that all of that took money (lots of it) and that the money people (ESPN) own your IP no matter how much passion you might have about it.

Hopefully, Bill goes back to being a columnist/blogger. Unlike Dan and Keith, he really does not have the chops to be in any other media, at least in front of the scenes.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens for Bill. No shortage of media companies that will be wiling to throw money at him, but he could easily get funding to do his own thing.

Grantland has the possibility of standing on its own without Simmons, but the key would be if a lot of the writers already on Grantland would leave because of Simmons. If they lose a lot of their writers, the site could easily fail or become a big giant mess (one only has to look at Jason Whitlock’s The Undefeated for a clue of what that can be like).

That being said, I think it’s evolved to the point now where it probably doesn’t need Simmons, though he is still the figurehead.

— Alan

I’m not sure that’s true necessarily. Simmons is abig enough name that either some company will offer him big money to write for them, or he’llstart a new joint where he has equity.

And ESPN essentially has no competitors in sports media, plus they get to keep Grantland and 30 For 30 for free. They’ll be just fine.

As long as Grantland doesn’t fall apart ESPN will be fine. Perhaps Simmons will get backing to start a similar site and poach Grantland writers, but ESPN is the biggest name in sports so it will take some heavy-duty poaching.

What we don’t get to see is what was going on in the negotiations. How much more money was Simmons asking for? Did he demand more autonomy for Grantland? I bet he wasn’t very happy about his suspension.

This isn’t a very accurate thread title, sounds like things were decidedly one sided.

Just quoting the headlines that were used.

I don’t think it was particularly one-sided at all. From everything I’ve read and heard through the grapevine, his last suspension over calling Goodell a liar was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. ESPN made a strong effort to renew his contract. Simmons pretty much knowingly priced himself into free agency with them.

I’m going to guess he’s got some idea of what he’s going to do and has been building towards this for a while.

Apparently the actual camel-breaking straw was yesterday when Simmons appeared on the Dan Patrick show, an act that all personalities at ESPN know that they have to ask permission to do (because Patrick is a former ESPN well-known personality, etc.) And then he also ragged on Goddell even more in the show, though not to the extent to which he was suspended for last year.

— Alan

Yeah I think that interview yesterday was the last straw. Among other things he said Goodell lacked ‘testicular fortitude’.

Simmons will do fine though, and it will be interesting to see where he ends up or what he ends up doing. I imagine he could start another Grantland type site with his own money, though he would have easy time finding investors. I could also see him trying to go the Dan Patrick route with a radio show and then TV work for someone’s NBA coverage. I don’t know if TNT has room for an ego his size though, and they are the only other NBA broadcast partner aside from ABC/ESPN.

Well, that and NBA TV.

He could easily re-do Grantland with someplace like Yahoo Sports, which is a bit of a competitor these days.

Or, conceivably, some network could approach to do unique programming. HBO is one example of someone who does sports programming.

— Alan

Fox Sports would love to get him; they’re trying to build something, anything, to rival ESPN

Yahoo or another big Internet company definitely in the mix

Gotta think CBS and NBC interested too.

ESPN’s biggest fear is if a la carte pricing finally goes through for cable companies. All those grannies complaining about sky-high cable bills for channels they don’t watch, and ESPN is the #1 culprit for the increase in carrier fees. They’ll still make money, but as it is right now, they’re making observe amounts of money with essentially an ESPN tax on every cable customer in the country

Run autocorrect again and change observe to, presumably, obscene.

Basically, Simmons has decided to test free agency. He’ll find out his true worth one way or the other.

It would not surprise me if he had already realized that they were never coming to terms on a second deal and decided to see how far he could push it before he got fired. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who leaves a place with a handshake and words of best wishes.

I think he probably decided during the Goddell suspension that he was going to leave or ask just a prohibitive amount of money/control; clearly he still didn’t even understand why he got suspended, and he still knows he has a viable fan base. I bet he’ll quote “take my services to South Beach” at some point in describing his move.

(Don’t get me wrong, I used to really like Simmons, but I definitely disliked particular aspects of him and those aspects just seemed to get worse as his ego inflated. He’s done some great things, but he’s definitely retreated in a core market/following that I think is just… a shame, to be honest.)

— Alan