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Simmons Regrets Not Editing Out Goodell Comments

Jason Barrett

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For the first time since Grantland was shuttered last Friday, the site’s founder and former editor-in-chief, Bill Simmons, talked extensively about its folding in an episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast posted Wednesday night.

Notably, Simmons admitted that he regrets not cutting inflammatory comments about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell from an episode of his “B.S. Report” podcast last September. The decision to call Goodell “a liar” during that podcast led ESPN to suspend Simmons for three weeks and caused a well-documented fallout between him and the company.

While mourning the passing of his sports and pop culture website, Simmons stated that he himself wasn’t entirely “blameless” in the matter, either. Specifically, he said that he should have thought more carefully about how his Goodell comments would negatively impact the 50 or so people working under him.

“The mistake I made, and the thing I feel really badly about is that I had all these people counting on me,” Simmons said. “If I’m going to push the envelope like I did [with those comments] … you gotta know where the line is, because the last thing I want to do is put all of those people in a bad spot … We should’ve [asked ourselves], ‘Hey, is [publishing these comments] worth it?’

Simmons went on to say that he didn’t play back that interview before it went live, as he was off taping another segment, and told his editors to just “go with it.” But, in hindsight, if he had listened to it, “I would’ve said, ‘You know what, I don’t think that’s worth it.’ I would have taken it out.”

Needless to say, he still stands by what he said about Goodell. He just regrets expressing it in such a public forum.

“I thought he was lying; I was borne out correct, the guy did lie,” he added. “[But] that really set the tone for a really bad next eight months.”

Later in Wednesday’s podcast, Simmons went on to condemn ESPN for the virtual radio silence Grantland’s staff received from its mother company about the site’s future after Simmons was kicked out last May — a silence that left the Grantland team always worried, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“The staff was really scared for the future of the site. They were scared for where it was going; they didn’t know who the leader was in place of me,” Simmons said.

And that shoe did drop just last Friday. In ESPN’s short statement on Grantland’s closure, it explained that the company sought to “direct [its] time and energy going forward to projects [it] believe[s] will have a broader and more significant impact” — a phrasing that led many to assume that Grantland’s reportedly less-than-absurd profits were a central reason for its suspension.

To read the rest of the article visit the Huffington Post where it was originally published

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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