Dear Bill Simmons,
Long time fan, first time letter to you writer. Fellow Bostonian. Sports enthusiast.
When I heard that you were closing in on a deal with HBO after the reprehensible way you were treated at ESPN, I couldn’t have been happier. HBO is a place I’ve long been a fan of and they’ve built a reputation as the best place for quality entertainment and talent.
You belong there.
You’ve built a storied career out of telling your point of view in a way that is fresh and insightful and relevant. I admire your worldview and your ability to build quality from scratch, as in the case of 30 for 30 and Grantland. I admire the way you ran Grantland and treated writers with patience and respect. I admire how you built that brand, and your eye for quality and intelligent discourse.
But mostly, I admire your integrity.
Knowing that you were on thin ice, and knowing that you had previously been suspended for attacking the NFL, you still came out and told the truth. You still came out with guns blazing and forced ESPN to terminate you. You did this knowing full well what the consequences would be and that you would lose this platform that ESPN provides, which is undoubtedly the biggest sports platform in the history of the world. You said goodbye to that because you refused to be an ass-kissing patsy. You refused to be silenced. You refused to be bullied by assholes.
And that’s fucking awesome.
And I wanted to congratulate you on your new HBO gig, which is scheduled to air in 2016.
But here’s the thing: 2016 is (hang on…carry the 1…) NEXT YEAR. That’s too long for you to be away, my good man.
Because some heinous shit is going down right now and there is only one person who can frame it properly. There’s only one person who has the knowledge, contacts, and integrity to change the current bogus narrative. There is only one person who can save the NFL: you.
I wish it could be me. Truly. And while it’s true that I cover the NFL for Pajiba, and seventeen people religiously read my NFL articles and promise me it’s as high as twenty, I don’t have the platform. And something needs to be said.
I love football. It’s so much fun. But it’s getting increasingly more difficult every year for “good” men and women to get behind the NFL. There are murders in the stands and child whipping and domestic violence and a pretty obvious cover up about head injuries and for the last eight months all we’ve heard about is the air in a few footballs. There’s a fuckload of horseshit being dumped on the American people and this evil has a face.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
This is the most truly vile and unabashedly evil motherfucker operating at any level of the sports world now that Sepp Blatter has been excommunicated.
This is a man who has overseen a precipitous rise in revenue for the NFL at the cost of actual integrity and love of the game. You might think I’m just having a knee-jerk reaction to the brand annihilation of the New England Patriots in general and Tom Brady specifically, but it’s more than that. Yes, I’m pissed about the leaked deflategate information and I’m pissed about the way this whole thing has gone down. But I think that’s part of the grand design of the current NFL.
If New England fans are pissed, and fans of other teams are like “The Patriots are Cheaters” and those are the only two sides, then no one is doing a comprehensive review of the actual process.
No one is asking why the narrative changed so precipitously from domestic abuse in the NFL to air in footballs. That should be the focus. Why was the NFL’s role in deflategate specifically forbidden to be investigated in the Wells report? Why didn’t NFL executives turn over their phones the way Patriots employees did? Every single person who Tom Brady texted in the Patriots organization willfully gave up their phone to the NFL, so why did they need Brady’s? The NFL has gone well out of their way to condemn Tom Brady for not giving them his phone, but none of them did either. Because they didn’t have to. Because they pulled themselves out of the investigation.
I’m a believer in fairness. I don’t want to root for a team that cheats. In the past, when teams were found to have broken rules like these, there were punitive repercussions from the NFL. In 2012 the San Diego Chargers were fined $20,000 for a stickum towel incident. When the Panthers and Vikings broke NFL rules by heating footballs, they were politely reminded not to do so. When the Patriots and Colts were found to be using balls that were less than the range of the league stipulated psi in the same game, nothing happened to the Colts. The Patriots were subjected to a national-news smear campaign, a six month long 5 MILLION dollar investigation, a MILLION DOLLAR fine, the loss of a FIRST ROUND draft pick and a four game suspension of their best player, someone who has never been accused of anything nefarious at any level in his entire life. All this based on an “independent” report which used faulty science and was EDITED BY THE NFL’S LEAD COUNSEL.
Side note: He didn’t know she was pregnant until a month after they broke up. Don’t peddle rumors people. Look it up.
And what is the public hearing about? Tom Brady is a cheater. Tom Brady refused to give up his cell phone. Guess what? I wouldn’t give up my cell phone either and I’m not married to one of the most recongizable women on the face of the earth. The NFL spent months not setting the record straight about the Patriots and in light of that we’re maligning Tom Brady for not trusting them with his personal information? Based on an assertion that he was likely, possibly aware of the amount of air in his footballs? What the fuck?
Here’s the thing: In the absence of cold, hard facts, die hards like me aren’t going to believe anything happened here outside of Tom Brady squeezing a few footballs and saying “that’s how I like them.” The way every single NFL quarterback does every single day.
People outside of New England will likely never choose to believe that the reason the Patriots are the most winning NFL franchise in the last half century is anything other than because they fracture rules whenever they can.
Yes, I really like Tom Brady, he has fuzzy hair and long legs and oh that chin! Heart heart emoji wink. And, yes, I completely understand why he would rub non-Patriots fans the wrong way. Truly, I don’t need you to come to the dark side. You can hate Tom Brady and hate the Patriots, It’s fine. We’ll agree to disagree. But if the Patriots did what everyone thinks, in a worst case scenario, then just keep the punishments in line. Keep the penalties uniform. That’s all. Instead the NFL levied the largest punishments in the history of the league. They were hoping to catch coach Bill Belichick in the act but when they found he was completely innocent they turned their attention on Brady. Over air.
That’s all this is. Hot air. This is right out of the standard PR playbook, folks. Roger Goodell was in hot water over idiot players breaking rules and the owners that look past those infractions. He was in the crosshairs and he needed to change the narrative. I was reading this article the other day by a former Obama senior staffer and I thought, that’s all that happened here. Goodell needed a sacrificial lamb and so they smeared Tom Brady.
Granted, that third one is hysterical and I’m glad the New York press is rightfully having a disneyland holiday with all of this, but I’d be significantly less psyched if I was the commissioner of a professional sports organization that represented this person. Holy shit! That a man in his position could be so willfully corrupt to either slander a member of the NFL or too stupid to portray the facts objectively should be horrifying. This whole thing could have been solved with the NFL saying “we didn’t have good protocols in place, so it’s on us, but let’s get everyone on the same page for next year.”
But as more information comes out about the way they do business at NFL headquarters, you can’t just bury your head in the sand. This is a loathsome collection of jumped-up street hustlers and they just pulled a fast one on the American public. The same public who has granted them tax-exempt status since 1966 and uses public money to build billion dollars stadiums that are then not publicly owned.
And their chief, the head of this reign of terror is Roger Goodell. And, to make matters even worse, he makes 44 million dollars a year to shit all over the game we love.
You don’t have to agree with me about the Patriots, and in fact, most of you won’t. You wouldn’t have agreed with me about the relative importance of the original spygate stuff, which was just a disagreement about defining the “sidelines” as part of the “field”, but cost coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots dearly in the court of public opinion. And New England will end up take these preposterous hits to their team and brand, but remember the words of Martin Niemöller in 1946:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
This whole thing is so fucking stupid. Deflated balls? Seriously? Just step back and ask yourself why all you’ve heard about with regard to the NFL is deflated balls. FOR EIGHT MONTHS. Because that’s how you get people to stop talking about this:
These fuckers are running roughshod over the NFL. And even of people don’t know it, they can feel it. There’s a reason Goodell is booed loudly whenever he approaches the microphone at the annual NFL draft. There’s a reason he’s booed loudly when he takes the podium at the end of every Super Bowl when he presents the Lombardi trophy to the winning team. Because people can feel that he’s wrong for football and wrong for this era. He’s wrong for the NFL and he’s wrong for America.
You know I’m right about this, Bill. And it’s fucking infuriating.
For people like me, there’s little we can do. I’ve cancelled my NFL Sunday ticket for the upcoming year and won’t purchase the NFL Rewind app on my iPad. I’ve stopped watching ESPN, deleted any ESPN or NFL related person from my twitter feed and since the sunday ticket was the only thing keeping me from cancelling DirecTV I’ve started the process of cord cutting. I want nothing to do with the NFL or it’s lying counterpart, ESPN (which, at this point, is basically just the PR arm of the NFL). I’m not going to watch the NFL network this season, which means I’ll miss games for the first time in about seven years. I’m not going to take part in any fantasy football leagues on ESPN. I’m not going to watch NFL Fantasy Live. This is going to absolutely ensure that I will get slaughtered in fantasy football this season, but it’s worth it. Because Roger Goodell is a man without honor of any kind and as long as he’s employed by the NFL in any capacity I won’t buy a single item of NFL gear or attend any game or do anything that would generate revenue for him and his cohort of lying assholes. He’s a two faced, lying piece of human filth and it’s time to burn this mother down. I know he’s a liar. You know he’s a liar. Everybody knows he’s a liar. Hell, you said it yourself better than I ever could when Goodell feigned innocence about the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident:
“If he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar. I’m just saying it. He is lying. I think that dude is lying. If you put him up on a lie detector test that guy would fail. For all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such f*cking bullsh*t. It really is. It’s such f*cking bullsh*t. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise - I was so insulted. I really was.”
We can’t wait until 2016, Bill. We can’t wait. This is the fuckhead that cost you your job. This is the man who is so tone deaf that he devised this:
This is a man who did his best to silence you, but hasn’t read his Macchiavelli.
Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared.
These fuckers left you for dead, Bill. They thought “we’ll take away his ESPN platform and he’ll end up on some local network shaking his fist at an image of the Lakers.” But you didn’t. You ended up somewhere better, maybe the only better place for you in the whole world, but that’s where you are. And while you prep, crimes are being committed against the good people of the NFL. There’s a thief in the temple, and only you can get him out.
It’s time for you to mount up. It’s time for you to change the narrative. It’s time for this shithead to get a righteous comeuppance. People need to see him for what he truly is and only a man who has demonstrated his integrity by placing his career on the line to protect it will ever be able to unravel his web of deceit.
This fucker is yours for the taking. He’s hedged all his bets on a bullshit report and a sham appeal and a few precious atmospheric ounces of pressure. He has presided over botched hearings and arbitrary judgements and character assassinations just to take the public spotlight of of himself.
He has misrepresented facts and alienated fanbases and singlehandedly ruined the game of football. And now it’s time for you to let the air out of his balls. John Oliver did it on HBO by shining a light on FIFA. Now we need you to do it on HBO by shining a light on Roger Goodell. Because he’s a power-drunk, unrepentant louse and a fink and a dirtbag and a fraud. He’s the problem at the NFL and we need to run him and the slimy, bottom-feeding weasels that work for him out of town. There is absolutely nothing beneficial to the NFL that has come out of deflategate. It hasn’t “protected the shield.” All it’s done is shift the focus from an actual rule breaker to a purported one. We can’t make Roger Goodell act like an honorable man, but by god we can make him wish to hell he had.
Your firing from ESPN was just a shot across the bow. Turn your considerable frigate of reporting prowess broadside to this tin pretender and unleash hell. Let’s get a better human being in the position of NFL commissioner and let’s take back the sport of professional football. A better commissioner would never stoop to these depths to protect himself. A better commissioner would step back and begin to tackle important issues like homophobia and domestic abuse in the NFL. How about a female commissioner? Someone who has some actual integrity and wouldn’t be swayed by all the old boy network horseshit. She would address head injuries with honesty. She would welcome outside input into the role of women in today’s NFL and treat all teams fairly and judge everyone by the same yardstick. And most importantly, she would be unassailable in the category of honesty. There are still good people out there and the NFL desperately needs one.
When done right, football is a thing of grace and beauty. The tenure of Roger Goodell has been the exact opposite.
Attica! Attica! Attica!