On Monday, ESPN’s Bill Simmons challenged his employer to discipline him for excoriating NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case. Simmons, on his Grantland.com podcast, repeatedly called Goodell a liar for saying that he had not seen the elevator video of Rice punching his fiancée.
Simmons calmly delivered his harshly critical remarks while peppering them with obscenity — an incendiary brew, especially considering ESPN’s business relationship with the N.F.L. on “Monday Night Football,” the college draft and other programming.
ESPN did not wait long to discipline Simmons.
On Wednesday, it suspended him for three weeks from all his activities: a long menu that includes columnist, podcast host, editor in chief of Grantland and executive producer of the 30 for 30 documentary series.
“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 N.F.L. coverage has met that criteria.”
Simmons, ESPN said, “did not meet those obligations.”
On his Grantland podcast, 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.” He added: “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.”
ESPN has removed the podcast from the Grantland website.
This is the third suspension for Simmons in his career at ESPN, and the most serious. In 2009 and 2013, he was barred from using Twitter for messages that violated company guidelines. In the latter case, he said that a quarrel on ESPN2’s “First Take” between Skip Bayless and the Seattle Seahawks was “awful and embarrassing.”
Simmons was unavailable for comment on the latest ESPN action against him.
For more visit the NY Times where this story was published