Bill Simmons returned to the airwaves at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 15, the moment his suspension by ESPN was up for calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” on his Grantland podcast. He came back quietly, with no mention of of the controversy or the suspension, other than to say he was glad to be back.
Instead, the Grantland editor-in-chief — along with co-host Jalen Rose — went straight to work with the first two of 30 separate planned podcasts looking at the upcoming NBA season. Kicking things off from worst to first, they spotlighted Philadelphia 76ers and the Utah Jazz in two separate pieces.
Simmons was also barred from using Twitter during his suspension, but he did not immediately return to that platform. He had switched to Instagram to chronicle how he kept busy during the three-week suspension.
Along the way, he became a sort of poster child for free speech in the online sphere, with the hashtag #FreeSimmons taking Twitter by storm immediately following the suspension. He gained supporters in entertainment as well, including the women from fellow Disney-owned ABC’s “The View.”
“I think that the person who says out loud and on the air what everybody’s thinking is always the hero,” View co-host Nicolle Wallace said.
Rosie O’Donnell agreed, saying, “I think that [in] the blogosphere and video and Vine, you’re allowed to say whatever truth is yours and put it out there, so I support him.”
Simmons and Rose will work their way through quickly through all 30 NBA teams with daily posts now that he’s back. Watch his return report below.