9 Sports Journalists Who Have Been Suspended or Fired
On Monday of this week, ESPN fan favorite Bill Simmons dared his bosses in Bristol to fire him for claiming that Roger Goodell is a liar in stating that he never saw the video of Ray Rice punching his wife until later this year. This denial from Goodell flies in the face of not only the accounts of others, but logic as well.
The folks at ESPN, having been in a bit of a crisis of leadership since this scandal began, quickly suspended Simmons for three weeks. The punishment was swift and severe, but of course there are many cases of sports journalists who have been suspended. The reasons range from the understandable to the…slightly less understandable. Here are nine such instances.
Olbermann has a reputation for speaking ill of his employers most anywhere he is working at the time. It’s caused him to lose jobs time and again. But the most notable infraction resulted in a suspension in 1997. Olbermann, then an ESPN employee, made an unauthorized appearance on The Daily Show with Craig Kilborn. He railed against his employers and called Bristol, CT, the network’s headquarters, a “godforsaken place.” Yup. He was shelved for two weeks.
9. Keith Olbermann – 1997
We addressed this one largely in the intro, but this is certainly the most high-profile suspension ESPN has doled out. It comes at a time when public interest in the NFL/Ray Rice scandal couldn’t be higher, and Simmons has huge appeal far beyond the traditional fan base of sports journalists. Because of Simmons’ clout, he wields a lot of power in Bristol, producing 30 for 30 and curating Grantland. So he likely won’t take this lying down. But how exactly he’ll respond is anyone’s guess at this point.
8. Bill Simmons – 2014
Stephen A. Smith’s job on ESPN is to basically run his mouth on any number of subjects on a daily basis, so while it’s not surprising that he would misspeak on an issue from time to time, that certainly didn’t excuse his comments on the Ray Rice case. He implied that Rice’s fiancée may have, in some way, been responsible for him punching her in the face. The comment was divisive even among his peers, and ESPN shut him down for only a week earlier this summer.
7. Stephen A. Smith – 2014
Bill Simmons got his Twitter privileges taken away for a week after being critical of another ESPN show, a corporate no-no. His comment initially was along the lines of “If you don’t like what was conveyed on First Take, change the channel.” Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, and not suspension-worthy. But then he got a little more assertive, calling the exchange on the show between host Skip Bayless and Richard Sherman “awful and embarrassing.” Yup. That will do it.
6. Bill Simmons – 2013
WEEI Boston radio host Kirk Minihane was suspended without pay for a week for making disparaging comments about Erin Andrews on his show. Regarding her interview of a baseball player DURING THE ALL STAR GAME, Kirk Minihane referred to her as a “gutless bitch.” Yikes. I can’t imagine that being acceptable to anyone. He then said that her success was based on her looks, and if she was 15 pounds heavier, she’d be a waitress. It’s amazing he still has a job.
5. Kirk Minihane – 2014
Tony Kornheiser, like so many other ESPN talking heads, is paid to rant about issues off the cuff on a daily basis. Sometimes, that can lead to misspeaking, but this incident went far beyond that into an criticism of fellow ESPN employee Hannah Storm’s fashion sense and appearance. He went into diatribe about her wardrobe that included “a horrifying, horrifying outfit today. She’s got on red go-go boots and a Catholic school plaid skirt … way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now.” Yup. He got suspended for two weeks.
4. Tony Kornheiser – 2010
Charles Barkley is the rare entry on this list who was suspended not for saying something insensitive. That’s ironic, because Barkley says all sorts of crazy stuff, but he rarely does it out of malice, and his charm can normally help sell the statement to the masses without ruffled feathers. In 2009, he was busted for a DUI while driving to get oral sex from some lady who wasn’t his wife. It was embarrassing. Barkley “took a leave of absence” from his studio hosting gig at TNT after getting caught driving with a BAC of .149, almost twice the legal limit.
3. Charles Barkley – 2009
Jeremy Lin’s campaign a few years back had everyone talking to the point that his whole rise was referred to as “Linsanity.” But not everyone was choosing their words carefully. Max Bretos made the mistake of using the phrase “chink in the armor” amidst statements made about Lin. Whoops. It’s still not clear that there was any intent or malice behind that phrase, but that didn’t get him off the hook. He was suspended for a staggering 30 days.
2. Max Bretos – 2012
Dana Jacobson hosted First Take and the terrible Cold Pizza morning show on ESPN when she appeared at an Atlantic City roast of sports figures Mike and Mike in 2008. Jacobson was apparently swilling vodka from the bottle at the event, staggering around, and just generally being a disruptive drunk. However, the big no-no was when Jacobson, who is Jewish, railed on the Catholic church and Notre Dame. YOU DO NOT SPEAK ILL OF NOTRE DAME, DANA!