Chris Connelly had the misfortune/fortune of taking over as editor of Grantland when ESPN cut ties with Bill Simmons. In an interview with SI, Connelly discusses the ups and downs of the site, why ESPN shut it down and more.
For a guy who was put in an essentially no-win situation, Connelly comes off as classy, smart and humble about the experience. Below are some highlights from the interview, but the entire exchange is well worth a read.
On why ESPN shuttered Grantland:
When you are doing a site that you understand is not making money, you kind of understand when times get challenging or there is a new economic climate, you will be scrutinized very closely. I think the site continued to do fantastic editorial, for which I want to be sure not to take credit. That was the product of the editors and writers who were there every day of the week. But in this economic climate you will be very closely scrutinized if you are not a money-making operation.
On taking over for Simmons:
What kind of people would they be if they did not have strong affection and feelings for him? He and [former editorial director] Dan Fierman had taken many of them from relative obscurity and given them fantastic opportunities and they blossomed while at Grantland. So you have to go in and respect that. And I tried to do so. To the degree that they felt loyalty to him was a testament of their character. If someone gives you an opportunity like that, of course you will feel loyal.
On make his own impression on the site:
The overall value I did talk a lot about was reporting. I really did think reporting was the key to doing even better stuff then we were doing. So to the limited degree I could, or just enhancing what was already there, I tried to suggest that this was something that was a value we should encourage in our writers.