Bill Simmons, who was muzzled by ESPN after he ripped into NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during one of his Grantland podcasts, has returned from his three-week suspension. “It’s great to be back,” said Simmons, in the first video podcast preview of the NBA season that the Grantland editor hosts with Jalen Rose.
Simmons did not address the circumstances of his absence, which was a result of his calling Goodell a “liar” for the NFL’s handling of numerous domestic-violence issues and then challenging his ESPN bosses to discipline him. ESPN did not hesitate and justified the penalty by saying that Simmons had violated their journalistic standards.
ESPN also pays the NFL nearly $2 billion each year for the right to air Monday Night Football.
His outburst and subsequent suspension made him a free-speech martyr of sorts, at least online where #FreeSimmons trended for days. Celebrities ranging from Lena Dunham to the women of The View spoke out in his defense.
Simmons, a prolific user of Twitter, went completely silent during his punishment. He has not yet spoken out about his exile, but media observers will be watching closely as he enters the final year of his contract with ESPN, his home since 2001.