Here's a fun passage from Those Guys Have All the Fun, addressing Bill Simmons's two-week suspension over his tweeting in 2009.
So Berman's doing Applebee's, and Tom Jackson is using his Twitter to promote GMC. Check out Tom Jackson's Twitter—fifty posts, and fifteen are about GMC or something. Oh, that's acceptable? But "deceitful scumbags" is a way not to represent ESPN?
To be honest, I knew the "deceitful scumbag" posting would case a splash, and I did it intentionally. That's the same reason I went on this rival radio show. My attitude was, You guys aren't handling this. You have let this fester and it's become a real issue in Boston with these guys killing me for two weeks. I have a thick skin, and I'm totally used to getting killed by people, but this is our alleged partner, and they have on their website that I'm the fraud of the week, and you guys have done nothing. I escalated things intentionally to make them look at it and have meetings about it and fucking waste their day. That made me happy. I'm glad they had two days of meetings about how to handle it, because they should have had those meetings two weeks before.
I met with Norby, who I'd never met before and who I can't decide if I liked or not. He clearly was trying to intimidate me in the meeting, but I was in a really good mood, and my book had just come out. And in person, I'm not intimidatable, and I'm actually like a really happy, gregarious guy. It's just very hard for people to rattle me. And even when they try, it's just not going to work. So I think Norby envisioned this as some sort of showdown where he told me, "This is how ESPN works and you're not playing the game." It's like a bad sports movie. And I'm just sitting there with a big smile on my face, like, Oh, it's great that we finally met, and within five minutes I disarmed him, but he still had to go into the whole "People here don't think you're a team player, you think the rules don't apply to you." And I said, "I'm actually kind of feeling like maybe they shouldn't to some degree. Maybe I should be able to get away with more in my column. I've been your best guy on the website for nine years. I should have a little more leeway. I'd get that leeway anywhere else."
We ended up in a decent place and he told me that he thought they were afraid. The perception was that I was in the Walsh/Skipper camp on this stuff and that everybody was afraid to crack down on me because I was Walsh's boy. I don't know. I was like, Honestly, who cares? You guys make two billion a year; why do you let it bother you? Why is this even an issue?
And what, pray tell, does Chris Berman think of his fellow dick-swinger?
I don't know Bill Simmons. I wouldn't know him if he sat here right next to me. I'm not knocking him, because I know he's important to the company, but that's some other limb of the tree that I don't touch.
Illustration by Jim Cooke