ESPN Suspends Bill Simmons For Blasting Roger Goodell

Sports commentator Bill Simmons dared ESPN higher-ups to suspend him after his scathing criticism of Roger Goodell, and that's just what they did.
Posted at 11:30 PM, Sep 24, 2014

Ask and you shall receive. Sports commentator Bill Simmons dared ESPN higher-ups to pull the plug on him after his scathing criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and that's just what the sports network did.

At least for the short term. ESPN released a statement Wednesday saying it was suspending Simmons for three weeks because he failed to "operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards." Simmons had blasted Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice case. Here's a portion of what he said.

BILL SIMMONS VIA GRANTLAND: "Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar. I’m just saying it. He is lying. ... For all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such f****** bulls***. It really is — it’s such f******bulls***. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted."

A source close to the matter told Sports Illustrated"The suspension applies to all ESPN platforms," including — get this — Simmons' Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

That particular move by ESPN prompted some fans to start a #FreeSimmons hashtag.

Interestingly, it's hard to determine where the barometer is for suspensions within the ranks of ESPN's commentators, but it's a good guess the exact language used might play a big part.

Take Stephen A. Smith of ESPN2's "First Take," for instance. ESPN suspended him for just one week when he "suggested that women may play a role in provoking illegal violence from the men in their lives." 

Though, to his credit, he later apologized multiple times. And, well, he didn't drop the F-bomb, so that probably lessened his punishment.

Or how about Keith Olbermann? He's received no push back for his regular blasting of Roger Goodell as part of his nightly diatribe — even calling for Goodell's resignation. Again, though: the language used.

KEITH OLBERMANN VIA ESPN: "We begin tonight with a pathetic performance of National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell. ... I want to see you too take responsibility, be accountable for it and make a difference going forward, okay? But so far, you have shown me nothing."

Simmons' suspension began Wednesday evening and is scheduled to run through Oct. 15.

This video includes images from Getty Images.