ESPN has suspended sports commentator Bill Simmons for three weeks following scathing comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case.
Said Simmons, “Goodell, if he didn't know what was on that tape, he's a liar. I'm just saying it. He is lying. I think that dude is lying. If you put him up on a lie detector test that guy would fail. For all these people to pretend they didn't know, is such f**king bulls**t.”
Simmons then basically dared ESPN to take action over his comments, saying, “I really hope someone calls me or emails me and says I'm in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell. If one person says that to me, I'm going public. You leave me alone. The commissioner is a liar, and I get to talk about that on my podcast. Please, call me and say I'm in trouble, I dare you.”
The network obliged Simmons, suspending him for three weeks. In a statement, it said, “Every employee must be accountable to ESPN, and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards. We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.”
This is not Simmons' first run-in with ESPN – he was suspended from Twitter twice by the network, once for criticizing “First Take” and fellow network personality Skip Bayless, and in 2009 for criticizing one of the network's affiliated radio stations. He also had a dispute with the network over content being edited out of his podcasts in the past.
Despite his previous trouble with the network, Simmons remains an incredibly popular figure, as evidenced by an outpouring of support on social media. An image posted to Simmons' Instagram attracted a large number of supportive comments.
The hashtag #freesimmons was also trending, with many Twitter users offering support to Simmons.
— Nick (@gesticulador) September 25, 2014
— Donnie Leapheart (@DonnieLeap) September 25, 2014