ESPN suspends top columnist for ripping NFL commissioner’s ‘f*cking bullsh*t’
ESPN suspended featured columnist and NBA analyst Bill Simmons on Wednesday after he criticized NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the domestic violence case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Think Progress reported.
Simmons said on his podcast on Tuesday that Goodell lied during his Sept. 19 press conference concerning the incident. Goodell has insisted that league officials did not see security camera footage of Rice knocking out then-fiancee Janay Palmer with a punch this past February.
“For all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such f*cking bullsh*t,” Simmons said on the podcast. “It really is, it’s such f*cking bullsh*t. For him to go on the press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted.”
The network said in a statement that Simmons’ statements had broken its journalistic standards.
“We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria,” the statement read. “Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.”
The Associated Press has reported that at least one league official saw the footage in April and said it was “terrible.” Rice has been cut from the team and suspended indefinitely by the league. The league has also commissioned an “independent” investigation by former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, whose law firm has negotiated television contracts on behalf of the league.
Late last week, ESPN reported that team officials engaged in a “pattern of misinformation and misdirection” to try to minimize the penalties against Rice, a report the team has denied.
Simmons, who also serves as the editor-in-chief for the ESPN affiliate site Grantland and executive producer for the 30 for 30 documentary series, had dared the network to take action during the podcast.
“I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell,” Simmons said. “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 say that on my podcast.”
This is the third suspension Simmons has incurred during his ESPN tenure. In 2009 he was benched for two weeks after posting criticism about a Boston sports radio show, and last year he was briefly barred from posting on Twitter after ripping the network’s morning show, First Take.
Listen to Simmons’ commentary, as posted by Think Progress, below.