More than four years after his acrimonious (to say the least) departure from ESPN, Bill Simmons is returning to the company’s airwaves…probably for one night only.
On Monday, Simmons and ESPN announced that he would be serving as a guest host for Monday night’s edition of Pardon the Interruption alongside Tony Kornheiser.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) September 16, 2019
What a trifecta of events the past 10 days on ESPN:
?️ 9/6 – Patrick & Olbermann reunite on SportsCenter
?️ 9/15 – Berman & Jackson relaunch NFL PrimeTime on ESPN+
?️ Today, @BillSimmons is back on ESPN, co-hosting @PTI w/ Tony Kornheiser -530p ET#NeverSayNever pic.twitter.com/7WqYabCfy1
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) September 16, 2019
There are far, far too many moments to document in the relationship between Simmons and ESPN (five years ago, we put together this huge history of Simmons and ESPN, about six months before he left the company), how it fell apart, and just how stunning it is that he’s making a (brief) return to the company’s airwaves. But in short, the relationship between Simmons and the Worldwide Leader had been toxic for months before he left, and following his departure, he didn’t hold back in taking shots at his former employer, who also didn’t play nice in the pool.
Eventually, the relationship began to warm (which was inevitable, given just how frosty it was when he left), and ESPN even got Simmons’ approval to blur him out in the NBA Countdown intro before he showed up on both Basketball: A Love Story and Katie Nolan’s podcast. The relationship between Simmons and former ESPN president John Skipper also improved, with Skipper showing up on Simmons’ podcast this past April.
Now, he’s back, in ESPN’s latest dip into the nostalgia market this month (following the Dan Patrick/Keith Olbermann SportsCenter reunion and the return of NFL Primetime with Chris Berman and Tom Jackson). This return wasn’t kept secret, like the SportsCenter reunion, and it doesn’t appear to be a regular thing, like Primetime will be, but if this fence can be mended, who knows what will be next.