Richard Sandomir of the New York Times is reporting that ESPN and Bill Simmons, editor in chief of ESPN’s Grantland, have failed to come to terms on a contract extension. Simmons will leave the company when his current contract expires at the end of September.
ESPN has sent the Erik Wemple Blog a statement from Skipper:
I decided today that we are not going to renew Bill Simmons’ contract. We have been in negotiations and it was clear it was time to move on. ESPN’s relationship with Bill has been mutually beneficial – he has produced great content for us for many years and ESPN has provided him many new opportunities to spread his wings. We wish Bill continued success as he plans his next chapter. ESPN remains committed to Grantland and we have a strong team in place.
“Clear it was time to move on” is doubtless a reference to the gulf between the two parties, a gulf created by their numerous run-ins over the years. For a fine rundown of the run-ins, try this piece in Deadspin. Simmons received a three-week suspension from ESPN last year after calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” for his statements in connection with the Ray Rice fiasco. As we pointed out at the time, Simmons’s comments squared pretty closely with the reporting of ESPN’s investigative aces. According to the Times, Skipper said that the Goodell-liar incident had “no bearing” on ESPN’s decision-making.
What’s to come of Simmons’s Grantland, one of the great additions to sports journalism — in fact, journalism of any sort — in recent times? No telling.