Last week, Bill Simmons told the Hollywood Reporter that he felt there were certain ESPN executives who wanted him out of the Worldwide Leader. Now, ESPN president John Skipper is denying there were any conspiracies within the company.
In a statement to the New York Times, Skipper said that it was he and he alone who made the decision to cut ties with the former Boston Sports Guy and it wasn’t from any pressure from any outside parties:
“Bill would rather spin conspiracy theories and be perceived as a martyr than take responsibility for his own actions. Let me be unequivocal and clear and take responsibility for my actions: I alone made the decision, and it had nothing to do with his comments about the commissioner. I severed our relationship with Bill because of his repeated lack of respect for this company and, more importantly, the people who work here.”
The whole thing still stems from Simmons’ comments about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, how he called him “a liar” in 2014 which led to a three week suspension and then in 2015 when he questioned Goodell’s “testicular fortitude.”
Simmons said Disney CEO Robert Iger who was hoping to get an NFL franchise for Southern California called him into his office and was asked if he could “respectfully” go after Goodell, but as we saw, that is not how things later worked out.
And after Simmons became a free agent, he met with CBS CEO Les Moonves who told him he didn’t know how he could work with him:
“I really liked Moonves, and he was totally honest,” Mr. Simmons said. “He was just like, you know, this is my biggest partner” — meaning the N.F.L. “I can’t figure out how we would make this work.”
So when it comes to the NFL, Simmons may be persona non grata, but ESPN’s John Skipper says there’s nothing behind his decision to let Simmons fly away, but it doesn’t matter as Simmons continues to harbor these feelings.