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Bill Simmons & ESPN Are Parting Ways After 14 Years

ESPNBill Simmons, who built a personal empire at ESPN and is one of America’s most influential sports personalities, will leave the media giant when his contract expires in the fall. He and the company were unable to reach an extension after months of talks.

“I’ve decided that I’m not going to renew his contract,” said John Skipper, the president of ESPN. “We’ve been talking to Bill and his agent and it was clear we weren’t going to get to the terms, so we were better off focusing on transition.”

Skipper said that the differences between the company and Simmons were “about more than money,” although he would not offer details. He added: “We’ve had an excellent run with Bill, almost 15 years. It’s been good for us and good for him. It was a decision I had to make and he had to make to move forward.”

My favorite part about Bill Simmons working for a media giant like ESPN was that he never let ESPN’s corporate view of things affect his intense fandom. Bill Simmons is just like you and me, except a lot smarter, and a lot more articulate. He loves the Sox, Celts and Pats just as much as any other diehard fan, except when he puts his thoughts into words, it’s poetry on the page. Simmons has been my favorite sports writer since I discovered him comparing my favorite player of all time Dirk Nowitzki to Larry Bird. Dirk may never be Larry Legend,  but Simmons was never afraid to state his opinion, and more so than anything else, he always recognized greatness. He was also more than just a sports writer. A  few of my favorite Simmons’s articles were his review of the movie ‘The Wrestler’ and the answer he gave to a reader who asked him which famous singer would have dominated American Idol had he/she started their career on the show (hint: WHITNEY).

 The internet is filled with writers and blogs (ours included) that in a tiny way get to live their dream. As a sports fan, my dream is to write about my favorite team in a way that sparks discussions with fellow fans. Bill Simmons got to live that dream, and in the sports world, he made it to the mountaintop. The mark of a great writer is someone who can realize something great is happening and be able to write about it in such in a way than other people wish they could’ve written it so brilliantly. It’s so easy to publish an article that bashes a person or an event, but it takes a special kind of person to find the positives in a person or situation and write about it in a way that all different types of people will want to read. According to the statement put out by ESPN, Grantland will stay on the site without it’s first and only editor-in-chief, but Simmons was so much more. I will miss his mailbags, his football game predictions, his movie and wrestling pay per view reviews and his knack for hitting every big time article he wrote out of the park. It should go without saying that Simmons will land on his feet, let’s just hope that happens sooner rather than later.

– Ryan

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Jon Gruden Breaks Down The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal On A Special Edition Of Gruden’s QB Camp #WWE

ESPN analyst and WWE fan Jon Gruden took a break from quizzing quarterbacks this week to break down the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Gruden does more research here than the entire announce team does on a yearly basis, and it makes for a great little segment. Axel as a dark horse and Ryback as a favorite are both solid picks, and it appears bringing back the Bunny is an ESPN thing as Bill Simmons mentioned it last night and Gruden does again here. On a side note, I love Gruden’s fascination with Titus O’Neil and his dog bark, it’s wonderful. I also love that ESPN is giving WWE some mainstream press ahead of Mania, as Grantland has always had some great WWE articles with The Masked Man, but getting guys like Gruden and Bill Simmons in on the fun is awesome. I’ll save my pick for the battle royal for the preview and predictions article on Friday morning, but don’t be surprised if Jon enters as a special entrant and takes home the trophy.

– Ryan

**UPDATE** Matt’s take:

I’m starting to think that Jon Gruden lives in his QB Camp office. The two places you see him throughout the year are there and in the booth for Monday Night Football. Love the analysis here. Only Jon Gruden would know that Titus O’neil sacked Peyton Manning back in his college days. This guy knows his shit. Probably has every NFL team’s playbook memorized and still has time to practice his Titus “bark” in his spare time. “I get a sore throat watching Ryback”, not sure what that means but it doesn’t sound good.

PS – How much do you want to bet Jon Gruden thinks Andre The Giant is still alive and that he can recruit him to play in the NFL?

-Matt

POLL: Is “His Airness”, Michael Jordan, Making a Return to the NBA?

Jalen Rose seems to think so. Check out the video below to hear the prediction of all predictions.

-MattyV

PS- This just might be the story to get Tim Tebow and Lebron James off of SportsCenter (At least for one segment).

PSS- Here is Jordan dominating current NBA all-star, O.J. Mayo back in 06. Still got it…at least in 2006 he does.

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