Bill Simmons has finally been freed from the corporate chains of ESPN. After 14 years with the network, head honcho John Skipper announced last week that ESPN will not be renewing Simmons’ contract when it expires in September.
Going a step further, Skipper also confirmed that Simmons will no longer be involved with the site he founded, Grantland, his incredibly popular podcast, The B.S. Report and his involvement with the series he started, 30 for 30, remains unclear.
Fans of Simmons rejoiced because it meant we might hear the unfiltered opinions of a man who isn’t afraid to challenge the power of major sports leagues like the NFL, FIFA and more.
In a world where teams buy out media departments so they can control their own image and stories reported, Simmons scoffed at the notion of trading objectivity for access.
He was suspended for calling the NFL Commish a liar and was ultimately let go from ESPN for criticizing the same man over Deflategate.
But when his contract is up in September, anywhere Simmons will succeed wherever he goes.
Because his talented staff at Grantland respects the shit out of him. And people crave to work for someone they respect.
Check out this statement sent out via Twitter by one of Grantland’s best writers that reiterates this point:
When you have respect from your team like Simmons, you’ll have workers flocking for the opportunity to collaborate.
While it’s not yet known if any of the Grantland staff will follow Simmons on his next career path, I have a few theories of how he’ll handle the transition.
Lands with SB Nation or Bleacher Report
When Simmons joined ESPN 14 years ago, the internet was in its infancy and social media didn’t involve staring at a phone but rather face to face human interaction.
In the past decade or so, sports blogs have turned into full-fledged media networks with some serious cash funding them. Many sports writers have jumped ship from traditional media outlets like CBS and local papers to sites like SB Nation and Bleacher Report.
Imagine a nightly NBA show with Charles Barkley and Bill Simmons via Turner-owned Bleacher Report. Or as Awful Announcing pointed out, Simmons could partner with Vice who’s also launching a television station next year aimed at millennials.
These networks could work out a salary+commission deal giving Simmons the flexibility to have editorial freedom while still earning close to the same $5 million annual salary he had at the Mothership.
Starts His Own Sports Media Network
With the popularity of Grantland proving sports fans still like to read in depth editorials, Simmons could spinoff the style of the site he founded and package it with quick-hitters that make the internet go ’round.
Why quick hitters? Because you have to be able to afford to pay for investigative journalism, editors, graphic designers, videographers and more. In the internet world we live in, editorials are lovely but they can’t pay the bills on their own.
Simmons could build a staff in a week on a shoe string budget and have the ultimate freedom to bitch about whichever commissioner he wants while continuously bringing in advertisers to fund his growth. In addition to web content, podcasts and sports documentaries, Simmons could have the power to build up his own sports media network in a year’s time.
Best part of it all? We’d get Simmons free from the protective blanket of another network to hear his true opinions.
Follows in Dan Patrick’s Footsteps
Dan Patrick made waves when he drove to Bristol with the full intention of renewing with ESPN only to change his mind once the contract was pushed to his side of the desk. Instead, Patrick started his own radio show in the attic of his house before securing a partnership with Direct TV. He publicly admitted there were times he wasn’t sure he would make payroll.
Of course that was a minor bump in the road for Patrick and his team of Danettes as they have one of best sports radio shows in the country.
Patrick paved the way for big time ESPN personalities to leave the Mothership and prove they can still do what they love, make money and more importantly, become valued by those they do business with.
Following in Patrick’s footsteps would be a relatively easy transition for Simmons as he has the radio and writing talent along with the big time personality to give a boost to a new venture.
I’m not sure what the future has for Simmons, but if his staff and online reputation are any indication, he’ll be success no matter what path he carves out.
What do you think is next for Simmons? Tweet to us and let me know you opinion.
Featured image via Sportsgrid