Bill Simmons let his ego get the best of him. To recap: He made a dumb comment in a chat recently pertaining to Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali. Those things happen when you’re sifting through 42,000 questions and responding, rapid-fire style, for three hours. A Boston writer (they’re matched up in the culture bracket) took a shot at Simmons for the chat comment. Instead of just brushing it off as, “my bad, chat hyperbole” Simmons stumbled his way through a “I stand by my point, let me just clear it up” column that should never have been written. Charlie Pierce went to town again.
Then Keith Olbermann weighed in.
Simmons flung back some angry tweets in his direction.
Olbermann came back at Simmons yesterday. Hard:
Mr. Simmons resumes:
KO, please know the feeling is mutual. You’re my worst case scenario for my career in 12 yrs: a pious, unlikable blowhard who lives alone.
3:13 PM Mar 5th via UberTwitter
This assumes that Mr. Simmons’ career now is where mine was twelve years ago (anchoring SportsCenter, then my own MSNBC political show, anchoring NBC Weekend Nightly News, writing a best-selling sports book, etc). In fact, this assumes that this is Mr. Simmons’ career, which is remarkable. Also, anybody who could write as many words without saying anything of consequence really should throw around the word “blowhard” as frequently as he would a street sewer cover.
Also, I don’t think “pious” necessarily means what he thinks it does.
Having made his point 50% of his words ago, Mr. Simmons still continues. As usual:
I feel bad about saying Olbermann lives alone. I forgot about his cats.
3:30 PM Mar 5th via UberTwitter
Mr. Simmons apparently uses, for factual research, old parody sketches from “Saturday Night Live.” I’m not surprised. That was Ben Affleck. Thanks for playing.
I am surprised, however, to be able to shed some light on something that has been a prominent topic of late around the internet: the prospect that Mr. Simmons is leaving ESPN. Admittedly I am something of an authority on this process. Nonetheless, I was stunned to receive several emails from some of Mr. Simmons’ bosses there, thanking me for pointing out the absurdity of, and the embarrassment to ESPN provided by, the Woods/Ali comparison.
About five years ago, I guess, somebody said Tony Kornheiser was the most uncontrollable, unmanageable talent in the history of ESPN. I was, of course, crushed (although I believe I got honorable mention). When ESPN bosses are writing me for helping them about somebody they claim has now lapped Tony and myself, I am left to conclude only that if Mr. Simmons does leave ESPN, it may not be entirely of his own choosing.
Simmons bowed out last night which is a wise move because against a guy like Olbermann, you’ve got ammo for days, and nobody wants Rebecca Lobo’s name dragged through the mud. And with nothing to gain for Simmons, what’s the point? The problem with being in Simmons’ position is that everyone is going to come at him for everything he writes, in hopes that they can draw the Sportsguy into a “feud.” Want to get noticed? Go after the No. 1 online draw at the No. 1 sports entity in the country. Simmons has absolutely nothing to gain by swinging down. (How he continually is able to hold back at some of the stuff written about him online is the first question we’ll ask him, should an interview happen.)
[Ed. I called it "swinging down" because Olbermann took his jabs online. How many people read his blog religiously? Whatever the number, it is infinitesimal compared to Simmons' twitter following. By reacting, Simmons put many, many more eyeballs on the blog post. If Olbermann had taken a jab on air, then I think it is a completely different story. ]
The biggest question is whether or not Olbermann actually had “Simmons’ bosses” emailing him. [UPDATE: Via CRM comes this tweet from one of Simmons' three bosses.]For a guy who “napalmed” bridges on his way out of Bristol a decade ago, is it possible Olbermann still has good connections there? It seems hard to believe. On the chance that it is … risky move to align yourself with a loose cannon like Olbermann, Mr. Corner Office email sender. [Baseball Nerd]