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Bill Simmons on ESPN: ‘Who would work there that you respect?’

Bill Simmons opened up about his exit from ESPN and the launch of The Ringer and his new HBO show in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
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Bill Simmons opened up about his exit from ESPN, the launch of The Ringer and the premiere of his new HBO show in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“It was f------ s-----,” Simmons said of learning via Twitter that ESPN had shut down Grantland, its sports and culture site founded by Simmons.

In addition to discussing his departure, Simmons also commented on the direction he feels ESPN is headed. “They’ve gotten rid of everybody who is a little off the beaten path,” he said. “Ask yourself this: ‘Who would work there that you respect right now?’”

Simmons later expressed regret over the quote in an Instagram post. “I feel terrible that one particular quote came out in a way that didn’t portray how I actually feel about dozens of talented people that passed through my life when I worked there (many of whom are still there),” Simmons wrote.

He went on to say that his “favorite memory of ESPN will always be all the great and talented people” he worked with during his time there.

“They meant a lot to me and still do,” Simmons wrote. “So today made me feel bad.”

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Simmons, who is known for his controversial comments, also takes some responsibility for his falling out with his former employer in the Hollywood Reporter interview.

“I’m not blameless,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I acted like a brat a couple times, and there are things I could have handled better.”

Moving forward, Simmons is focused on his new site The Ringer and his HBO show Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which launches on June 22.

“It’ll be conversations about sports, culture and technology, and then me being a snarky a------,” Simmons said of the show.

One idea Simmons has for the show is to discuss women’s sports with Michelle Obama, who has been an advocate for young girls getting involved with athletics.

“One of the ironies of my life is that I was definitely a chauvinist with men’s and women’s sports before, I’d always make WNBA jokes and stuff like that. And now I’m like a feminist, and it's all because of her,” he said in reference to his 11-year-old daughter. “In L.A., they have all these academy teams for boys, and the girls are treated like second-class citizens. The fields we have are worse than the boys’, too. It all just drives me f------ crazy.”

Simmons’s move to HBO also comes with a salary increase. He is reportedly earning “between $7 million and $9 million a year” at HBO, while he earned $5 million at ESPN.