Despite what ESPN brass says, there is a train of thought out there that stillbelieves Bill Simmons was let go by the Worldwide Leader because of his consistent criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. ESPN obviously wants to play nice with the NFL, as having Monday Night Football on its airwaves is not good, but great business.
Simmons announced on social media Wednesday that he had a new home, simply by tweeting out a link to an HBO intro that aired during the network’s infancy (see above).
One of the reasons Simmons jumped to HBO (which had been rumored for over a month) has to be that the network promised him that he could say or do just about anything he wants. Goodell will certainly be public enemy No. 1. A day after Simmons went on The Dan Patrick Show in May, he was dismissed by ESPN. Simmons said during the interview with Patrick (also an ex-ESPNer) that Goodell lacked “testicular fortitude” when it came to his handling of theDeflategate scandal involving Simmons’ beloved New England Patriots.
No doubt Simmons will jump at the chance to point out that from May (when he was let go at ESPN) up until today – July 22 – Goodell hasn’t been able to put Deflategate to rest.
The ‘Sports Doc’ Dr. is in
Simmons had a giant hand in creating ESPN’s award winning 30 for 30 sports documentaries. Hopefully he can revitalize HBO’s work in that category. We explored how ESPN was winning out documentary-wise under Simmons’ watch last month:
Another reason Simmons’ transition to HBO would be beneficialfor both parties is that HBO could provide Simmons a platform to run “30 for 30” style documentaries. Simmons created the “30 for 30” venture at ESPN and the documentaries proved to be wildly popular. In fact, Simmons’ docs bumped HBO from its throne as the unquestioned king of the sports documentary.
HBO had scored documentary winners with The Curse of the Bambino (2003), Barbaro (2007), Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush (2007), Ted Williams (2009), Battle for Tobacco Road: Duke vs. North Carolina (2009), Lombardi (2010), Magic & Bird: A courtship of rivals (2010) and Namath (2012).
ESPN’s 30 for 30’s began in 2009. It’s first one, Kings Ransom (on the Wayne Gretzky trade to the Los Angeles Kings), earned modest numbers. Gaining steam, ESPN began putting the docs in key primetime slots. “I Hate Christian Laettner” debuted on Selection Sunday of this year and drew an impressive 2.319 viewers.