Bill Simmons is taking swings at ESPN in his new podcast

Bill Simmons
(Image credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images the New Yorker)

Former ESPN personality and Grantland founder Bill Simmons is still a little bitter about being dumped by the network earlier this year. While ESPN's unexpected firing drew criticism from Simmons fans and Grantland loyalists, HBO quietly took advantage of the situation by snatching up the sportswriter and giving him his own weekly talk show. Simmons was apparently unable to stay off the radar for too long, though, so he returned Thursday with his own self-titled podcast in which he predictably took some shots at his former employer.

"We've been on ice," Simmons joked to his show's first guest, Cousin Sal. "I have not been heard from for almost five months. I would call it a sabbatical, is that being kind?"

But that was hardly the end of the antics. Simmons also enthused that he's "excited to poke fun at some of the ESPN on-air talent" on his show (and did, later mocking Mike and Mike) and very pointedly praised HBO for being "a place that cares about creative people and freedom of speech."

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Simmons even circles back to attack ESPN in his podcast's second episode, which was released alongside the first. While speaking to guest John O'Connell, Simmons railed on his former employer's treatment of Deflategate:

I'm a little biased here from what my experiences were the last two years at ESPN. The way everyone else was covering Goodell's role in this whole story versus the way ESPN covered it, it was embarrassing. I couldn't believe nobody called out ESPN about it [...] It's hard to come away from that and not think that ESPN is in the bag for the NFL — because they were. [The Bill Simmons Podcast]

Simmons' show will debut on HBO in 2016; in the meantime, hear him back at the helm over at The Bill Simmons Podcast.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.