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Bill Simmons bashes ESPN in first new podcast

Bill Simmons joins HBO this month on a multi-year deal that will include a weekly television series and projects and films on its digital platforms.
Bill Simmons joins HBO this month on a multi-year deal that will include a weekly television series and projects and films on its digital platforms.Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Bill Simmons returned to form Thursday morning, re-launching his podcast, now called The Bill Simmons podcast, and he wasted little time sinking his teeth into the Deflategate saga, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and his former employer, ESPN.

Simmons had not been heard from since ESPN decided not to renew his contract in May.

Over the summer, HBO said it would be the exclusive television home for Simmons and he would get a talk show that will debut in 2016.

Thursday marked his return to podcasting,

“Granted I’m a little biased here from what my experiences were at ESPN the last two years,” said Simmons. “The way everyone else was covering Goodell’s role in this whole story vs. the way ESPN covered it, it was embarrassing. I couldn’t believe nobody called out ESPN about it.

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“You have Dan Wetzel at Yahoo, you had Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post, you had all the people in Boston, you had different radio personalities, and people really going after how the NFL was handling this, how Goodell was handling this, all this stuff. Especially in the weeks after the broken cell phone thing, when it came out that they had obviously leaked stuff and something really legitimately shady was going on, and yet if you went to ESPN you didn’t see anything.

“It was hard to come away from that and not think ESPN was in the bag for the NFL, because they were.”

“My big takeaway from all of it was just how powerful the NFL is, and how afraid everybody is of them.

“There’s a balance when you’re criticizing a partner that you have to find. What happens if that partner is acting completely inappropriate, making up its own rules, leaking false information, and handling things incorrectly legally. How far can you go?”

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On May 7, while still an employee at ESPN, Simmons appeared on “The Dan Patrick Show” — a syndicated program ESPN employees are not allowed to appear on without permission — to discuss the controversy regarding the Patriots and underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship game.

“I think it’s pathetic,” said Simmons at the time. “[Goodell] has handled so many things so badly that it’s reached a point now where you have something like this, where it took four months to release the report. He knew everything that was in it. He knows the results before the report is released to the public, and yet, he doesn’t have the testicular fortitude to do anything until he gauges the public reaction.”

The next day was his last day at ESPN.


Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney