Here are Some Silly, Baseless Bill Simmons Rumors

By Jason McIntyre

Let’s do it!

Nicholas Carlson, writing for Business Insider, claims that interest in Bill Simmons from outside entities came pouring in after news of his suspension broke in late September. Simmons and his people rarely address scuttlebutt, and very few internet writers call ESPN for comment on anything, so the way this works is that something is floated and eventually just accepted as fact because, well … that’s how the internet works sometimes.

Let’s start here:

"ESPN is currently paying something like $3 million per year."

That’s low.

As legend has it, when Simmons inked his last contract, he demanded to be paid more than Rick Reilly, whom ESPN had just given a “ridonkulous” contract when the network poached him from Sports Illustrated. Simmons is supposedly in the class of the big TV stars (Fowler, Herbstreit, Tirico, Berman) and radio (Mike & Mike, Colin Cowherd) guys who all clear $3.5 million a year.

"A CEO at a digital media company with lots of sites catered toward men says that when news broke of Simmons’ suspension, people from CBS and FOX called him to ask if he would be competing with their bids for him."

Sounds interesting, but is highly unlikely. ESPN/ABC is corporate; CBS takes it to another level. Simmons would have had his “Goodell is a liar” rant edited out of the podcast before it even hit the web. CBS is also not known for being competitive financially when it comes to paying writers, but all of a sudden they’re going to back up the brinks for Simmons? They won’t put reporters or columnists on TV – and barely have room for them on CBS Sports Network – but they’re going to give Simmons free reign?

It just screams “no shot.”

Fox could have been interesting (and could still be interesting) if it gets the NBA. That seemed like a lock for months, until ESPN attempted to overpay for the NBA to the point that the league didn’t even need FS1. Fox is fledgling at the moment, and at the risk of going too deep on speculation, there’s plenty of industry chatter about what might happen to much of the leadership at the network in late 2015 if the putrid TV ratings keep up and Rupert Murdoch isn’t able to pull off the Time Warner merger.

Is Simmons unhappy? Sure. Is ESPN President John Skipper pissed? Sure. Are people at the network picking sides and amassing ammunition to sling it should things get uglier? Certainly. Everyone has an agenda.

Could Simmons leave ESPN? It’s possible, but it’s also a year away. A lot can happen in a year. Fences can be mended. Remember: Simmons is getting his own NBA TV show (coming later this month). And as I wrote last week, if he were to leave (I’d say there’s a 25% chance it happens), it’d be for a VC-backed operation.

Related: Bill Simmons Suspension Part of Larger Issues at the Network That Could Lead to Him Leaving ESPN
Related: Bill Simmons Undercut ESPN’s Great Roger Goodell Coverage, and President John Skipper is Pissed
Related: Bill Simmons: Always a Step Ahead of ESPN’s Old Guard