Grantland founder Bill Simmons is parting ways with ESPN, the network’s president, John Skipper, announced Friday.
Skipper explained in a statement why the company chose not to extend Simmon’s contract:
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.
While Simmons became one of America’s top sports columnists and prominent television personalities while working for ESPN, the underlying reasoning behind his departure falls hard on his rocky relationship with the network.
Simmons was suspended for a full three weeks in the fall of 2014 after criticizing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on his handling of the Ray Rice sexual assault case. In his podcast, he dared ESPN to punish him for his rant:
I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I'm in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell. Because if one person says that to me, I'm going public. You leave me alone. The commissioner's a liar, and I get to talk about that on my podcast ... Please, call me and say I'm in trouble. I dare you.
This was not the first time Simmons was in hot water with the network. He was suspended three times between 2009 and 2014 for criticizing colleagues and ESPN.