(HOLLYWOOD REPORTER) — Bill Simmons is mere weeks away from launching the most high-profile phase of his professional career — his very own HBO talk show to complement a recently launched website and an already popular podcast. But on this springtime afternoon, the 46-year-old sportswriter turned multimedia juggernaut sits slouched in his Los Angeles office, unable to pull himself out of the past.
Specifically, May 8, 2015, the day the world fell on top of him.
The trouble actually began 24 hours before that. Simmons — part rabble-rouser, part bro whisperer to legions of fans and nearly 5 million Twitter followers who first met him as The Sports Guy — had appeared on Dan Patrick's syndicated radio show, where he was asked about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The subject was radioactive, and Simmons knew it. Just eight months earlier, ESPN had suspended him for three weeks after he blasted Goodell for his mishandling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal. Now, Goodell was threatening to sideline Tom Brady, of Simmons' beloved New England Patriots, for allegedly conspiring to use underinflated footballs during a playoff game. It would have been out of character for Simmons to hold his tongue, and, to the horror of his longtime network home (which pays nearly $2 billion annually for Monday Night Football), he didn't disappoint. In another impassioned diatribe, he accused Goodell of, among other things, lacking "testicular fortitude."
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