Though there will likely be frequent entertainment value in Bill Simmons having his ESPN muzzle removed and being able to criticize the network’s personalities and management now that he works elsewhere, that tactic could wear thin quickly with fans and listeners if he obsesses on the subject for too long.

However, with the debut of his new podcast and the next stage of his career under way, it’s natural for Simmons to discuss what he hasn’t been able to discuss publicly for the past five months. There is also news and story value in getting a first-hand account of what’s previously been speculated upon and reported, even if it’s from a biased standpoint.

Whatever you might think about Simmons, he does deserve to note the achievement of creating Grantland at ESPN. So with Wesley Morris — who recently left Grantland for the New York Times — on as a guest, it was probably natural for Simmons to take something of a victory lap during the third episode of his podcast while also lamenting how the experience went sour.

Simmons first mentioned that Grantland was understaffed, saying that the site succeeded because of the camaraderie among the writing staff and the personal investment (in addition to a competitive spirit) that resulted from it. But in his view, that will could only take the site so far.

“My biggest issues behind the scenes the last two years, which we’ve talked about a million times, was just like, ‘Help me. Help us,'” he said to Morris. “We weren’t even on their mobile page until, I think, January. We just had this tiny little hyperlink at the bottom of the mobile site.

“You can say, well, they support with salaries and bandwidth and all that stuff. That’s fine, but there’s more that goes into it. You see when they launched Scott Van Pelt’s show, a ton of ads, a ton of resources, they blow it out and try to make it succeed. I think all of us felt like, these guys weren’t trying to make us succeed, which is a weird feeling when everybody’s busting their ass.”

Sour grapes? Sure, but comparing the Grantland situation to Van Pelt’s seems a little bit self-centered. Van Pelt is a television and radio personality for the network, a definite brand name. Simmons obviously felt he and Grantland were brands as well. And while frustration over not getting proper promotion, and knowing that the product risked dying on the vine as a result, is understandable, Simmons’ gripes here come off as a failure to see the bigger picture for ESPN.

Morris explained that Simmons and editor Dan Fierman didn’t voice those concerns to the writers, letting them focus on their work. But two weeks before Simmons was fired, he learned about the issues with ESPN management (“how bad it was”) during a long walk the two took in New York City.

“It’s weird to work for a place that’s trying to make you look bad,” said Simmons. “Usually, places try not to make some of their best talent look bad. It’s not usually something a company does.” He also mentioned how angry ESPN’s three-week suspension made him, and how he knew his time there was over when they later docked money from his paycheck.

There’s plenty more — though the conversation eventually turns to movies, Morris’ speciality, for the majority of the podcast — including Simmons’ speculation that the beginning of his end with ESPN resulted from problems that developed when he was part of the NBA Countdown studio team.

As we mentioned yesterday, when Simmons took shots at ESPN and its relationship with the NFL, it’s no surprise that plenty of bitterness built up both before and certainly after his firing. Letting that out and giving his fans what they want to hear is probably natural. But now that it’s out of his system, the hope is that Simmons can move on because it’s not like he didn’t have a good landing. The podcast is up and rolling, and his HBO show debuts in the spring.

While expressing his anger and frustration is refreshing for its candor, Simmons will do himself no favors by letting himself be defined by that, rather than returning to the more light-hearted, fan-oriented takes his fans enjoy most. Bitter griping from someone who arguably made out OK won’t make him a sympathetic figure, either among fans or former colleagues — many of whom still pledge loyalty to him at this point.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He has covered baseball for Yahoo! Sports,, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.