Bill Simmons is probably the most recognizable personality in sports journalism. A field of people who for the most part, and sometimes by definition, don’t have any discernible personalities. He was one of the first sports writers to build a large audience by writing 100% as a fan. He didn’t invent it, but he brought writing from an admitted fan bias and writing about experiencing sports as a fan to a large audience. As much as anyone, he made it possible for people to read about sports from smart, interesting writers who didn’t have sports officials’ hands up their ass controlling and limiting “opinion” pieces and company-approved sports columns.
In short: he pioneered a new kind of sports journalism that some people really like. Even if he was insufferably long-winded and too obsessed with Teen Wolf metaphors sometimes, you gotta give him credit for having a vision for a new kind of popular sports writing and making his vision a reality on a large scale within the gigantic, corporate system of ESPN.
That said, ESPN announced today that they are kicking Simmons to the curb. And Simmons probably found out on twitter! Disrespectful!
The public firing wasn’t completely out of the blue as Simmons and ESPN brass have bumped horns for years. But it does seem particularly cold hearted. In honor of Simmons’ penchant for making 80’s movies pop culture metaphors, here are a few for how he got fired.
Bill Simmons time at ESPN was like that scene in The Breakfast Club when Paul Gleason is explaining what the detention will be like and Bender keeps antagonizing Gleason and he keeps giving him more detentions and then finally says “Don’t mess with the bull young man, you’ll get the horns.” This was ESPN’s you’ll-get-the-horns moment!
That firing was like in Teen Wolf when Scott figures out how to turn into a wolf at will and shirks Boof, the childhood friend who stood by him when he couldn’t relate to anyone else at school but knew there was something special inside him, for Pamela, the school hottie. Once Pamela reveals she doesn’t want to actually go out with him, Boof will be long gone. This is ESPN’s realizing-Pamela-doesn’t-actually-like-them moment
The moment Bill Simmons got fired must have been like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Cameron realizes that it has been the fear of his father that has been dominating his life and stopping him from becoming an independent man. What Bill Simmons does next is his Cameron-kicking-the-Ferrari moment!
What happens to Grantland and 30 for 30 from here on out is going to be like in Stand By Me when Gordie decides that no one is going to get credit for finding the dead body so he calls in an anonymous call to the cops the same way Bill Simmons is going to devise a plan to anonymously draw traffic away from Grantland. This is Bill Simmons Gordie-finding-a-dead-body moment!