Bill Simmons’ new HBO show, “Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons,” premiered this week, featuring a very heated Ben Affleck as a guest.
After Simmons asked Affleck if Deflategate was the “ultimate Boston sports story that ever could have happened,” the actor launched into an expletive-fueled rant during which he defended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and criticized the NFL.
The Cambridge native also spoke candidly about a low point in his life and career -- post JLo -- saying, “I wasn’t cool, and I wasn’t talented, and I was the lowest rung of cool and talented that you could possibly be in the public consciousness at that time. I had broken up with Jennifer Lopez, and I had three or four movies in a row that bombed.”
He said his estranged wife, Jennifer Garner, was integral in his comeback in Hollywood.
“I was going to work as hard as I could ... my wife was really, really instrumental and helpful in me doing a lot of that work.”
Affleck really became animated, though, when talking about Deflategate.
“What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone,” he said. “I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone -- so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?”
“Especially the NFL,” responded Simmons, a fellow Massachusetts native. “The league that leaks everything.”
Simmons was suspended from ESPN — his previous employer — in September 2014 for calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” during a podcast on the league’s investigation of Ray Rice and a video that surfaced of him beating his wife-to-be in an elevator. Simmons was fired in May 2015 from ESPN, the day after going after Goodell over Deflategate, saying Goodell “doesn’t have the testicular fortitude to do anything until he gauges the public reaction.”
“So the first thing they’re going to do is leak this [expletive],” Affleck added. “And I don’t know, maybe it’s funny, lovely sex messages from his wife, maybe it’s just friendly messages from his wife, maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers.”
Affleck theorized that Deflategate is a “conspiracy” cooked up by people in the NFL who’d been handed defeats by Brady and the Patriots.
“And Goodell now doesn’t have the integrity, I want to say frankly,” said Affleck.
“You can absolutely say that on HBO,” said Simmons. “I don’t know if my old employer would have agreed.”
“[Goodell] doesn’t have the decency to say, ‘This is stupid I was wrong,”’ Affleck added.
Asked what sort of movie Deflategate would make, Affleck said it would be a tragedy that would end with everyone dying. When Simmons suggested Affleck could play NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Affleck shook his head.
“How could I ever play a movie like this and not play touchdown Tom Brady?” Affleck said.
Some on Twitter have suggested that Affleck seemed intoxicated during the program, but Simmons tweeted in Affleck’s defense:
BTW - we taped AGW in the late-AM, Ben got fired up about DeflateGate during the convo, that's it.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 23, 2016