The defections at Grantland continued today, as popular staff writer Rembert Browne bolted for New York, adding his name to the growing list of staffers who have left the site since the network cut ties with founder Bill Simmons.
With a staff exodus underway, a clearer picture of the site’s last year of operations has emerged. Though Simmons has only technically been out at Grantland for five months, many began to see the writing on the wall last fall, when Simmons was suspended for calling N.F.L. commissioner Roger Goodell a liar on his podcast.
Insiders at Grantland point out that in the aftermath of Simmons’s suspension, executive vice president Marie Donoghue told the staff that they “shouldn’t worry, because whether or not Bill stays at ESPN, the company is committed to Grantland.”
ESPN management says that Donoghue, who oversaw the site, made that statement because staffers were specifically asking whether they should fear for their jobs, “given Bill’s behavior.” She was trying to calm them down, ESPN brass points out, she wasn’t trying to suggest she and the network didn’t want Bill to stay.
Several key Grantland members, however, took it another way. Says one, “That was the tipping-point moment. What do you mean if Bill’s here or not? Bill is Grantland! What are you talking about? Bristol never recovered with the staff after that.”
Digging deeper into the steaming remains of the ESPN-Simmons divorce, it becomes clear that while the breakup may have been bloody, costly, and emotionally exhausting, it was also certainly worthwhile for both sides.
Over 48 tempestuous hours, in more than 15 conversations with current and former ESPN employees, current and former Grantland staffers, and current ESPN senior management, additional information has surfaced suggesting there were numerous areas of major conflict, and several more defined by personal animosity, fundamental misconceptions, and even accusations of sexism.
As ports of entry into this Byzantine world, we can look to three major stress points.
First: Simmons’s relationship with the rest of ESPN outside Grantland. There was no love lost between the two. During his last year at ESPN, many at the network believe, Simmons still respected and had warm feelings toward executives John Skipper, John Walsh, and several others at the company. It was equally evident to many that he resented the way he was treated by other executives and was largely dismissive of the way they conducted business.
A major fork in the road arose when Magic Johnson left NBA Countdown in 2013 and, Simmons’s associates believe, Bristol was spreading the story that Simmons was to blame, even as Simmons swore to co-workers that he had not put that in motion. Being blamed for Johnson’s departure enraged him, in fact. Try living in L.A. and being regarded as the guy who dumped Magic Johnson.
For ESPN’s part, the animosity was mutual. “Nobody at ESPN wanted to work with Simmons,” says a high-ranking executive. “He was loathed throughout the company. He kept up a long-running diatribe on how terrible it was to work here.”
There were also complaints that Simmons would not allow Grantland writers to contribute to ESPN.com or to the magazine—or, for a long time, to appear on any of ESPN’s TV shows. Some of that was true: The Grantland staff was intent on building the Grantland brand.
And, at least one executive complains—somewhat ironically, given his feelings toward Simmons—that Simmons seldom came to Bristol, but Simmons would tell the Grantland staff and others that it was hard for him to get to Bristol from the site’s Los Angeles headquarters, that he didn’t have the time, and that he didn’t think it necessary. He did, however, go at least once three years in a row, and traveled at least four times a year to New York, where he would meet with the network’s executives.
Nevertheless, bitterness was palpable and plentiful.
To continue reading this article visit Vanity Fair where it was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
CBS: Calling Meeting With Tony Romo ‘Intervention’ is ‘Complete Mischaracterization’
“We meet regularly with our on-air talent.”
An opening question in broadcasting circles is ‘What happened to Tony Romo?’, with even CBS reportedly pondering the issue.
During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast earlier this week, The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand claimed CBS attempted “an intervention” with its lead NFL analyst.
The intended mission of several alleged meetings with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS NFL producer Jim Rikhoff was to return Romo to his previous heights, which were widely regarded as the best NFL analyst in the business.
CBS Sports has responded to the insinuation that the meetings would be classified as an “intervention” with a strong denial.
“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle told Marchand.
Marchand added that CBS Sports officials plan to attempt to rectify the issues it sees with Romo again this offseason. Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS Sports in 2020 — is slated to call Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 with Jim Nantz.
Cameron Maybin Joining Detroit Tigers TV Booth
“All of us at Bally Sports Detroit are energized about this upcoming season and watching all the excitement unfold.”
After being dropped from the New York Yankees booth on YES Network, Cameron Maybin has a new television home with the Detroit Tigers.
The 35-year-old Maybin had three separate one-year stints with the Tigers during his 15-season big league career. Maybin was drafted by the franchise with the 10th overall selection of the 2005 MLB Draft.
A report from the Detroit Free Press adds that the Tigers will rely on Craig Monroe as its primary color commentator alongside play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard. Monroe played six of his nine MLB seasons in Detroit and was a member of the team’s 2006 World Series club.
Additionally, former Tigers relief pitcher Todd Jones will also join the broadcast crew on Bally Sports Detroit as an analyst for the 2023 season. Jones pitched for Detroit from 1997 through 2001 and also from 2006 through 2008.
“Tigers baseball is always a winner,” Bally Sports Detroit Senior Vice President and General Manager Greg Hammaren said Thursday in a statement. “All of us at Bally Sports Detroit are energized about this upcoming season and watching all the excitement unfold.
“Our crew behind the scenes and our engaging talent on camera are the best in the business. Starting with spring training, we are committed to bringing Tigers fans the absolute best coverage all season long.”
The news of Maybin and Jones joining the Bally Sports Detroit booth comes on the heels of the network failing to reach an agreement with Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris to return to the network. The Free Press report claims Morris was offered a reduced role with the television broadcaster, but declined.
Ian Rapoport: I Have Never Thought It is Me vs Adam Schefter
“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows.”
In terms of NFL insiders, Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are the two biggest names out there. And sometimes it can be a race between the two to get the biggest scoops first. Especially now with the NFL coaching carousel in full swing.
This week two teams hired new head coaches – the Broncos traded two first round picks to the Saints to acquire the rights to Sean Payton and the Texans signed DeMeco Ryans.
Rapoport tweeted that Denver had pursued Ryans up until the day they announced the trade for Payton.
Not even 15 minutes later, Schefter appeared to clarify the information out there with the two teams.
On The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday, Pat McAfee referred to the conflicting information as a “source off.”
Ian said he stood behind what he put out there.
“I know it’s fun to call it a source off or whatever, but for me I reported what I had based on the best information I can get – based on talking to many, many people throughout the course of the last month,” Rapoport said from the Senior Bowl. “And then whatever happens as a result of this I don’t really mind.”
In terms of any sort of rivalry between him and Schefter, Rapoport doesn’t view it as a head-to-head matchup.
“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows,” he said. “And everyone can sort of judge for themselves whichever way to go.”
McAfee gave kudos to Rapoport for his reporting on the Ryans situation. He also said it’s a good thing Rapoport doesn’t worry himself too much about what other insiders are doing.
“I think you should feel good about it, but I do like a good source off,” McAfee said. “And I appreciate the fact that you don’t view it as you versus Schefter. But you two are at the top of the game. So that’s a compliment more so than anything.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.