Simmons you may recall played the 2006 WSOP Main Event where he was eliminated when his K-T flopped two-pair was counterfeited. He was also supposed to have played both last year and this year’s Main Event, but didn’t end up showing to either. And he was supposed to have Daniel Negreanu on a podcast the week of this year’s Main Event, but that fell apart at the last minute.
Aside from an occasional podcast, Simmons has been almost completely missing from ESPN.com this summer.
According to his Page 2 site:
Quick announcement from Bill: ESPN was gracious enough to give me 10 weeks off to finish my second book. My column will return right before Week 1 of the NFL season, just in time for another year of crappy football picks! If you’re a fan of the "B.S. Report," we’re still doing weekly podcasts, but that’s it. Enjoy the summer.
However we’ve learned from multiple sources at ESPN that there’s a deeper issue involved. And his name is Rick Reilly.
It all reached a boiling point around the time Simmons cancelled that aforementioned podcast with Daniel Negreanu before the 2008 WSOP Main Event. ESPN.com "people" (as in, some of the management) are rumored to believe that The Sports Guy’s best days may be behind him. That he’s lost his fastball, so to speak. Rick Reilly (who lost his fastball around the same time Satchel Page did) had recently been put/heavily promoted on the homepage. This has further steamed Simmons, as the two have certainly taken their jabs at each othere. (read more on the tensions here)
But the real root of the problem may be that Reilly is getting paid a bundle more than Simmons.
Reilly is rumored to be making well above seven figures, blowing away what Simmons banks. Even though Simmons essentially built the house that Reilly’s working in.
So Simmons has shut down his laptop and gone away for a little. In the meantime, the ESPN.com folks keep putting Simmons and Reilly’s mugs next to each other on the homepage. That is, when they’re not just showcasing Reilly by himself. We’re sure The Sports GuyTM has noticed these not so subtle digs.
Not sure why ESPN.com would do this. Sure Simmons went heavy on Boston sports this year, but why not? Boston was the center of the sports universe the past 365.
And Rick Reilly? If you’re gearing towards the 50+ demo, sure, great move. Makes sense. But we stopped reading Rick Reilly when we stopped reading Sunday comics.
If all of these rumblings are true, ESPN.com needs to get its collective head out of its butt. For now, we’ll see whether Simmons does in fact return. Or better put, if he returns with the same productivity as he had before.
If not, Bill, you can stay sharp by writing for WCP when not moonlighting with the great Deadspin. It’s an open invite. You’re welcome here. You don’t even need to write about poker. Hell, we hardly ever do either.
In completely unrelated news, listen to Scott Van Pelt’s legendary voicemail here.