Grantland died when Bill Simmons left

After Bill Simmons and ESPN parted ways, there had been a lot of speculation about what would happen to Grantland, the sports-pop culture vanity site owned by ESPN. It turns out, Grantland’s fate was likely sealed once Simmons walked out the door.

Chris Connelly took over as interim editor-in-chief. But in recent weeks it seemed clear that Grantland was in trouble as several key members of the staff left the website for other ventures, including several who re-joined Simmons to work on whatever he has coming in 2016. Whether or not ESPN could have saved Grantland is up for debate — and there are many who felt there was no desire to do so — Grantland was still at its core, Simmons’ baby.

The chart below shows how often people have searched Google for “Grantland” since January, 2013. This doesn’t speak directly to traffic or revenue, both of which were not doing well, but it does show that general interest in the site plummeted after Simmons left the company. It would have taken a Herculean effort to stop the bleeding, and that never came.

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