“Effective immediately we are suspending the publication of Grantland,” the Disney-owned channel says today. “After careful consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise.”
The decision isn’t a complete surprise. ESPN suspended Simmons last year after saying he violated its journalistic standards by calling NFL Commission Roger Goodell a “liar” in a podcast. Simmons today tweeted his outrage about staffers learning of the decision moments before ESPN made it public:
In May, ESPN declined to renew Simmons’ contract and weeks later named Chris Connelly as Grantland’s interim editor in chief. (In July, Simmons joined HBO with an exclusive multiyear, multiplatformdeal.)
Others followed Simmons out the door including Editorial Director Dan Fierman (who became VP and Editorial Director of MTV News), Pulitzer Prize winner Wesley Morris and deputy editor Sean Fennessey.
About 40 people will be affected by today’s announcement, although some may be offered jobs elsewhere at ESPN. Connelly will continue at E:60 and SportsCenter. Grantland content will be archived at ESPN.com.
The company’s decision to jettison Grantland is said to have no bearing on its other sites including FiveThirtyEight and The Undefeated.
ESPN says in its statement:
Grantland distinguished itself with quality writing, smart ideas, original thinking and fun. We are grateful to those who made it so. Bill Simmons was passionately committed to the site and proved to be an outstanding editor with a real eye for talent. Thanks to all the other writers, editors and staff who worked very hard to create content with an identifiable sensibility and consistent intelligence and quality. We also extend our thanks to Chris Connelly who stepped in to help us maintain the site these past five months as he returns to his prior role.
Despite this change, the legacy of smart long-form sports story-telling and innovative short form video content will continue, finding a home on many of our other ESPN platforms.