ESPN's decision on Wednesday to suspend writer and host Bill Simmons for three weeks for calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a "liar" in a podcast has enraged his millions of fans and raised questions about the network's critieria for disciplining employees.

"Every employee must be accountable to ESPN, and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN's journalistic standards," the sports network said in a statement. Just hours later, #FreeSimmons was trending on Twitter, with many complaining that the network's punishment was too harsh.

Many of Simmons' fans have pointed out that other ESPN employees have received similar or even lesser punishments for greater sins, even making racially discriminatory and other offensive comments on air.

Below are some examples.

Stephen A. Smith

When discussing the much-criticized two-game NFL suspension of Ray Rice for punching out his girlfriend in an elevator, Smith got in trouble for saying that he counsels women in his family how to behave so as not to "provoke" a beating: "Let's make sure we don't do anything to provoke wrong actions." 

He was suspended for one week.

Rob Parker

Parker sparked controversy during a discussion of African-American quarterback Robert Griffin III by asking: "Is he a 'brother' or a 'cornball brother'?":

"My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is ... is he a 'brother,' or is he a cornball 'brother'? He's not really ... he's black, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the guy you'd want to hang out with. I just want to find out about him. I don't know, because I keep hearing these things. He has a white fiancée, people talking about that he's a Republican ... there's no information at all."

He was suspended for 30 days.

Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin

The ESPN 980 radio hosts made offensive on-air remarks about transgender junior college women's basketball player Gabrielle Ludwig, describing her as "tattooed, big biceps" and resembling "a Russian chick," as well as referring to Ludwig as "it."

The pair were temporarily removed from the radio station's "The Sports Reporters" program.

Chris Broussard

During an appearance on "Outside the Lines" to discuss NBA veteran Jason Collins' announcement that he is gay, Broussard called homosexuality "an open rebellion to God."

Broussard released a statement apologizing for the comment.

Josina Anderson

The on-air ESPN reporter caused a ruckus when she discussed her conversations with several Rams players about how openly gay player Michael Sam was conducting himself in the locker room: "Another Rams defensive player told me that ‘Sam is respecting our space’ and that, from his perspective, he seems to think that Michael Sam is kind of waiting to take a shower, as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable."  

The network later apologized.

Here's How ESPN Handled Other High-Profile Suspensions bill simmons, ESPN offensive, ESPN ray rice comments, Steven Smith ESPN comments, ESPN bill simmons, bill simmons roger goodell, NFL ray riceYesdjrIBTimesBill Simmons Suspended From ESPN Over Roger Goodell Criticism