Outspoken sports columnist Bill Simmons dared ESPN to come after him for calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar. ESPN responded, “Challenge accepted.”
Simmons was suspended Wednesday (Sept. 24) for a profanity-laced tirade he made during a recent Grantland podcast. Grantland is owned by ESPN and and the sports network says in a statement, “Every employee must be accountable to ESPN, and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards. We have worked hard to ensure that our recent N.F.L. 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 podcast has since been removed, but the Goodell part was as follows:
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 f***ing bulls***. It really is. It’s such f***ing bulls***. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted. I really was. … When you’re the leader, you’re in charge and that’s it. You take accountability, the people work for you and ultimately they represent you and if you screwed up as an institution in some way, take accountability for it.
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. 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. …
Goodell looked at all the evidence and said, ‘Two games.’ That was his decision. He had all the evidence. There’s nothing he didn’t know. … I don’t like liars. I think that people who, when 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 … Please, call me, and say I’m in trouble. I dare you.
The “worldwide leader in sports” previously suspended Stephen A. Smith for his comments about domestic violence, but his comments were not criticizing an ESPN business partner, but actually blaming victims of domestic violence for “provoking” attacks. Smith was suspended for one week, Simmons is suspended for three.
As Think Progress points out, Simmons isn’t really saying anything other than what ESPN’s own reporting on Goodell contained, but he’s saying it in a more blunt and profane way. And The Big Lead writes that Simmons has criticized Goodell before without facing suspension.
Full audio of the rant below.