Bill Simmons (Grantland Channel)

Bill Simmons to leave ESPN

The outspoken sports commentator who clashed with his superiors last year will not have his contract renewed


Scott Eric Kaufman
May 8, 2015 7:24PM (UTC)

The New York Times is reporting that ESPN has declined to renew its contract with outspoken sports commentator Bill Simmons.

Simmons has worked for ESPN for the past 15 years, and was instrumental in the creation of both the widely successful long-form journalism site Grantland and the award-winning "30 for 30" documentary series. However, his relationship with the company has been strained since ESPN suspended him for three weeks for calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a liar during a podcast.

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Simmons was, effectively, daring ESPN to fire him -- but the company chose instead to wait a year and simply not renew his contract, according to President John Skipper.

"We've been talking to Bill and his agent and it was clear that we weren't going to get to the terms so we were better off focusing on transition," he said in a statement. The differences, he added, "were about more than money."

Grantland will remain an ESPN property and be "unaffected" by Simmons' departure. "It long ago went from being a Bill Simmons site to one that can stand on its own," Skipper said.

Speculation as to where Simmons will take his talents is already amping up, with sites like Vox, Bleacher Report -- and yes, even Salon -- being listed as potential destinations.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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