ESPN suspended the popular sports commentator Bill Simmons Wednesday for three weeks for calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” in a recent strongly worded rant.
Simmons criticized the league Monday over its handling of a series of high-profile domestic abuse cases, which have embroiled the league in recent months. The crisis confronting the NFL began when Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice was suspended for just two games after surveillance video showed the running back dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator in February. TMZ released a longer clip earlier this month showing Rice punching out his fiancée inside the elevator, after which Rice was cut from the Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the league. Allegations of abuse have since been levied against Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer for child abuse and domestic abuse, respectively.
“I just think not enough is being made out of the fact that they knew about the tape and they knew what was on it,” Simmons said on his podcast, referring to the Rice case. “Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar. I’m just saying it. He is lying. I think that dude is lying. If you put him up on a lie detector test, that guy would fail.”
Simmons went on to say Goodell’s press conference last week was “f------ b-------.” Goodell, who is taking heat from all sides over the league’s handling of the abuse cases, apologized during the appearance but said he has no plans to step down from his post. Simmons, who has been a vocal critic of Goodell in recent weeks, even dared ESPN to respond to his rant.
“Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards,” the network said in a statement Wednesday evening. “We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.”