14 years. That’s how long Bill Simmons has worked for ESPN. He was a crucial part in starting the 30 for 30 feature, making a great sports podcast, and starting Grantland in 2011. While I haven’t followed him since the beginning, and despite the fact he’s a Celtics aficionado, I quickly became a huge fan of his. He has an ability to work objectively and subjectively all at once and has no shame about his opinions or his love for his teams. Grantland became my favorite sports site to read and it’s a shame it will be staying with ESPN and Simmons will no longer be able to advance the site he essentially created.
His departure will be a big blow to ESPN. Fans have already displayed their disappointment as well as speculation of where he may end up. Vox and Yahoo seem to be the two that came to mind for many. ESPN will lose followers for this and I will likely be one of them. The only reason I’ll be keeping the ESPN app is to check scores. I will no longer follow the site and may even do the same with Grantland if the quality greatly diminishes. I feel Vox could be a good fit for Simmons, but only if they give him his own place to write. SB Nation is already filled with writers and plenty of page views. However, I also feel he could branch off in his own and have no problem with receiving money from fans and investors to start a brand new site and experience. The main issue with him leaving ESPN will be his television appearances. He will no longer be seen on halftime shows on ESPN and his only other option really would be TNT. This would be a huge step down for Simmons, but may be the only option. Ultimately, I will follow Simmons no matter what ends up happening after ESPN. He’s a fantastic writer, great at NBA analysis, and is definitely not afraid to speak his mind. I’m sure this situation will be revisited come September when his contract actually expires.