An Exclusive Interview With Tommy Craggs About The Bill Simmons "Grantland" Project

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Approximately one month ago, Deadspin Senior Editor Tommy Craggs was approached by several fine folks involved in Bill Simmons' then unnamed editorial project, which we now know, thanks to Richard Deitsch's Twitter account, is called Grantland. ESPN issued a press release soon after that report and confirmed that Deitsch's hunch was correct and also revealed recent additions to its staff. But there's so much more to this story and it's about time our readers were let in on it. Please follow along closely, because the news about to be broken in the following paragraphs is both self-referential and tragically absurd.

First, some fun facts about the site's name: "" was already owned by Ken Grant, charming patriarch of this family who, since 1997, have chronicled their travels in Bali. Here's a screenshot of what that site used to look like:


According to sources close to the situation, ESPN finally struck a deal with the Grant family after several rounds of negotiations. ESPN said it will not reveal on how much money they had to pay Ken Grant for "" to vaporize their online picture book of their Bali adventure. "Grantland," if you didn't know, is inspired by 1920's purple prose extraordinaire Grantland Rice and was the name ESPN senior vice president John Skipper was most giddy about, according to sources close to the situation. In case the Grants didn't give up the domain, alternate titles for the site included names such as "Wheelhouse" and "TheGOAT"(Greatest Of All Time), the latter of which was preferred by some staffers because it was "kind of awesome," sources close to the situation said.

As for Tommy's current state of employment with Deadspin, sources close to the situation have said that he was first approached by Grantland editor, Dan Fierman, formerly of GQ, in late March. According to sources close to the situation, Craggs was excited about the opportunity and the vision for the site, which has been trumpeted as "The National 2.0" by some sources close the situation. Talks progressed and Craggs expressed interest in the job. Craggs told me about the overtures from Fierman soon after that and said he had an interview scheduled with Bill Simmons at Sweet and Vicious, a dimly lit bar in the Nolita section of Manhattan on March 31. That meeting went well and that night Tommy told me that once a formal offer was made, he was going to accept the position and his last day at Deadspin would be June 1st. But on April 7, 2011 Craggs published the story "ESPN's Corporate Blog Finds Rock Bottom Somewhere In This Idiot's Office," where many unflattering insults were aimed at's senior director of something, Lynn Hoppes. This piece upset many of Grantland's executive overseers, including executive editor John Walsh and Skipper, who were incensed that, while Craggs was still a full-time employee of Deadspin, he chose to rip on an ESPN employee.


So as a result of that post, the offer letter to Tommy Craggs has been put on hold until tempers at Bristol cool off. Also, Craggs has a lunch date on May 2 with Walsh in Manhattan, which is presumed by sources close to the situation to be one drawn out tap-dancing audition. It is my hope, however, that Walsh will see that Tommy's exceptional writing talent shouldn't be passed over because of some philosophical disagreements he's had with several of ESPN's editorial and corporate decisions while he's a writer at Deadspin. Since I'm quite confident that Tommy Craggs won't pitch any stories to Grantland about the wakeboarding techniques of Lynn Hoppes, he's a safe bet.


And remember that there is a work history between ESPN and Craggs. Yes, for some strange reason, he was a lowly fact-checker at ESPN "The Mag" before he came on full-time at Deadspin in April of 2009. Even though he was every bit the freakishly gifted writer then as he is now, it was determined by The Mag that he was more useful translating Stephen A. Smith's incoherent ramblings instead.

As huge a loss it will be for this site — and me personally — it would be incredibly foolish for ESPN to overlook him again. I've also been told — by sources close to the situation who don't work for this site in any capacity — that writing about this silly Disney corporate horseshit prior to Tommy's play date with Walsh would further jeopardize his opportunity to become a full-time staffer at Grantland. For now, though, he still works at Deadspin and I still work at Deadspin and this is a story we'd cover had any other potential Grantland writer become entangled in such stupidity.


Still, Tommy Craggs has no comment at this time.