According to the New York Times,ESPN columnist/editor/podcaster/producer/talking head/instigator Bill Simmons makes more money than we thought.
Also according to the Times, Simmons is very angry with the people who pay him all that money.
Three weeks ago, Simmons was suspended for calling the NFL commissioner a liar and challenging his ESPN bosses to do something about it. He comes back today.
To herald the occasion, Times reporters Jonathan Mahler and Richard Sandomir have a story in today’s paper headlined, “Bill Simmons’s Return Sets Intrigue in Motion at ESPN.”
In it, Mahler and Sandomir report that Simmons makes “more than $US5 million a year.” We’d heard Simmons makes more than $US3 million per year.
We’d heard that Simmons was upset about his suspension, and that he is considering leaving ESPN when his deal is up next year.
Mahler and Sandomir go further, reporting that Simmons is “furious,” and that he has been “talking a lot about whether ESPN is still the right place for him.”
Apparently, Simmons feels like ESPN has changed in the years since he last re-upped with the network in 2009. Specifically, he doesn’t like how the executive who hired him way back when, John Walsh, is less powerful than he used to be. In Walsh’s place there is an executive vice president named Marie Donoghue.
Donaghue is the one who called Simmons up and told him he was suspended.
Mahler and Sandomir say that among some ESPN executives, the antipathy is mutual.
“There are executives at the company’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn., who resent the freedom — and resources — that Simmons has been given to run his own fief in Los Angeles,” they write.
For a while now, we’ve heard that Simmons wants to strike out on his own. Specifically, we heard that he wants to “go independent but get investment, promotion, sales, tech platform from a partner.”
We spoke to a few potential partners in digital media, and some told us that Simmons isn’t worth his huge cost. It’s not clear to them that Simmons is willing to hold a staff accountable for growing traffic. The site Simmons runs for ESPN, Grantland.com, is pretty tiny.
ESPN, meanwhile, has plenty of traffic, and it values Simmons because he improves the overall ESPN brand, allowing to attract talent and charge higher ad rates.
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