Bill Simmons has returned to the digital space, four months after leaving ESPN. The acclaimed sports writer — known as The Sports Guy from his 15 years with ESPN — debuted The Bill Simmons Podcast on Thursday, and briefly discussed his former employer during a segment about Deflategate and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“I’m a little biased here since my experiences at ESPN the last two years. But the way everyone else was covering Goodell’s role in this story versus the way ESPN covered it, it was embarrassing,” Simmons said during the second of two podcast episodes now available. “And I couldn’t believe no one called out ESPN about it. You have Dan Wetzel at Yahoo, you had Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post, you had all the people in Boston, you had different radio personalities, and people really going after how the NFL was handling this, how Goodell was handling this, all this stuff. Especially in the weeks after the broken cellphone thing, when it came out that they had obviously leaked stuff and something really legitimately shady was going on, and yet if you went to ESPN, you didn’t see anything […] It’s hard to come away from that and not think that ESPN is in the bag for the NFL, because they were.”
Simmons’ thoughts on Goodell had previously gotten him in trouble with ESPN. He called the NFL head a “liar” in 2014 over the Ray Rice scandal, and was suspended for the remarks. In May of this year, just before ESPN announced that Simmons’ contract would not be renewed, the columnist went on The Dan Patrick Show and slammed Goodell as doing a “pathetic” job with the Deflategate scandal.
“He has handled so many things so badly — Roger Goodell — that it’s reached a point now where you have something like this, where it took four months to release the report, and he knew everything that was in it. He knows the results before the report is released to the public, and yet doesn’t have the testicular fortitude to do anything until he gauges the public reaction,” he said.
Simmons signed with HBO in July. His new show will debut on the cable network next spring. Listen to Simmons’ podcast here.