As Bill Simmons re-launches one of the most popular podcasts on the planet, he begins with a few jabs at his former employer, ESPN, Roger Goodell and the hosts of "Mike and Mike."
Well, that didn’t take long, did it?
As part of a two episode-launch Thursday of his new self-titled podcast “The Bill Simmons podcast,” the former ESPN commentator was critical of his previous employer, including targeted shots at the network’s relationship with the NFL, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, the ESPN Radio duo who form “Mike and Mike,” and his former employer preventing him from appearing on competing radio shows in markets.
“I thought it was hilarious when [NFL Commissioner] Roger [Goodell] finally decided to give his interview and it was with Mike and Mike,” Simmons said, late in Episode 2 of his podcast.
“Hard hitting,” said podcast mate John O’Connell, mockingly.
“Whoa, buckle up, put some shoulder pads on Roger,” Simmons said, sarcastically. “This one’s going to get rough.”
Simmons then proceeded to mock the interviewing style of ESPN’s Golic.
On the subject of ESPN’s coverage of Deflategate and the league office, Simmons was more serious:
“Granted, I’m a little biased here from what my experiences were the last two years at ESPN,” he said. “The way everyone else was covering Goodell’s role in this whole story versus the way ESPN covered it, it was embarrassing. I couldn’t believe nobody called out ESPN about it because you had Dan Wetzel at Yahoo, you had Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post, you had all the people in Boston, you had different radio personalities, and people really going after how the NFL was handling this, how Goodell was handling this, all this stuff. And especially in the weeks after the broken cell phone thing, when it came out that they had obviously leaked stuff, that something really legitimately shady was going on, and yet if you went to ESPN you didn’t see anything. Charlie Pierce on Grantland was the only person who went after them. They didn’t really do anything until that giant Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham's Outside The Lines investigation. It’s hard to come away from that and not think that ESPN is in the bag for the NFL—because they were.”
As part of the podcast, Simmons also took umbrage at not being allowed to appear on non-ESPN Radio outlets.
“For years and years and years and years I was not allowed on his show (WFAN’s Mike Francesa) because of the ESPN policy that they only want you to be on ESPN Radio shows,” Simmons said. “Which I kind of understand except for the part if I am trying to raise my profile in different cities, say a city like Boston where I grew up and lived 10 years after college, it maybe might help me in those cities to go on the local radio shows there. Francesa, I could never go on and it was always a dream to go on.”
Reached on Thursday morning, Simmons said he would let the podcast speak for itself and was not doing any interviews on the topic for the moment.
ESPN PR declined comment on the comments of Simmons.
The Simmons podcast, at the moment, is the No. 1-ranked podcast on iTunes in the U.S. Undoubtedly, ESPN brass will be watching to see how Simmons’ comments track among its viewers.