Grantland editor in chief Bill Simmons' profanity-laced rant about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell may have placed him in hot water with his company, but the public is showing overwhelming support on social media for his statements. The hashtag #FreeSimmons began trending Thursday in support of the suspended sports journalist.
During The B.S. Report podcast (which is hosted on ESPN-owned site Grantland and linked on ESPN.com), Simmons repeatedly called Goodell a liar for saying Goodell didn't know about the video of former Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée. Despite adamant denials from the NFL, an Outside the Lines ESPN report stated that Ravens officials knew about the footage and were led to believe the NFL commissioner did as well. Simmons dared ESPN to punish him for making his statements—and the network promptly suspending him for three weeks and removed the podcast from its sites. (Other listeners have reloaded the clip on Soundcloud.)
The sports network told Adweek in a statement: "Every employee must be accountable to ESPN, and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN's journalistic standards. We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks."
Simmons comments didn't come from left field. He's been outspoken about his disgust over the Goodell situation, including during a Sept. 11 post in which he called for the NFL commissioner to step down. He's also known for his bombastic opinions; one might expect that's what the network hired him for in the first place.
#FreeSimmons He was stating his thoughts, isn't that the nature of why he attained a position at ESPN in the first place? 3 weeks, really?!?— Billy Wygle (@BillyWygle) Sept. 25, 2014
If Hannity can call the president a liar & keep his job at fox NEWS, why can't Simmons call Goodell a liar on his own podcast? #FreeSimmons— Kaytlin Bailey (@KaytlinBailey) Sept. 25, 2014
Punch a woman out. Two weeks. Say an abuse victim may have brought it on herself. One week. Call a liar a liar. Three weeks. #freesimmons— Mike Rodman (@PatriotMike) Sept. 25, 2014
Easy explanation, the NFL and its ratings pays ESPN's bills. #freesimmons— DKing (@duaneoking) Sept. 25, 2014