Has Bill Simmons Overplayed His Cards At ESPN?

What do Dan Patrick, Chris Myers, and Craig Kilborn all have in common? They were all once leading lights at ESPN, and now are nowhere to be seen in the national media, save the odd playoff game or overcrowded NBC set (as for Kilborn, check Bob Evans’ corner booth at Trader Vic’s.)

Bill Simmons

In short, all three left ESPN and have since seen their media careers go into decline. At least in my estimation. With the news from Daulerio today that Bill Simmons has quit his ESPN podcast, you wonder if he is about to suffer the same fate.

Simmons’ relationship with ESPN, since he signed a new deal with the ‘Net, has been nothing short of bizarre. He created a personal, non-ESPN blog to assail his current employer. Took an inordinate amount of time off from this regular ESPN.com duties to write a book, and now has quit his podcast in protest over being “overly edited.” Or for being forbidden to associate with a male porn star. Or having an ESPN interview with Obama spiked. Or something.

Having worked intimately with those faced with the daily Bristol dragon, I understand that there’s a lot of things about ESPN that suck. Problem is though, 99% of corporate environments these days are exactly like the WWL. I myself worked for several monster media companies - including Disney/ESPN - and can’t ever remember not being maddeningly micromanaged every last day.

I’m guessing that Simmons has also faced those challenges from the first day he set his virtual foot in Central Connecticut.  So why now leak details of his discontent to the media

Simple, Simmons has grown a massive ego and now feels like he should no longer have to absorb the niggling jabs doled out by ESPN Editorial.

And in my opinion, his disdain is completely justified. But Norby doesn’t listen to me. (Or whomever is in charge at ESPN, I just love that name.) No matter how much money you make, or however many people watch, read or hear you, you will always be viewed at the WWL as a cog in the machine. Besides legacies like Berman and Ley, you will never get special treatment. Let alone medical bennies.

Ask Patrick about that. He was as big as they get in Bristol but when he asked for too much money and refused to budge on his demands, he was shown the door.

I don’t want to jump too far ahead here, but it really does appears Simmons’ ouster is inevitable at ESPN. And that begs the question, where will he go? Another major media company? Off to write books? Produce Russ Meyer remakes - with Matthew Perry and Adam Carolla as casting directors?

Who knows. One thing that is likely certain though is that if he does go work fulltime for another media company (get out the landing gear for FOXSports.com) he’ll likely get a similar dose of the current management style reserved for him at the WWL.

And that if he wanted to leave tomorrow and break his contract, I’m not so sure the ESPN suits would stop him, which is a shame. We’ll all miss him. (Both of you who read FOXSports.com, please forward me his stuff. Thks.)