(born September 1969) is a columnist for Page2
and ESPN The Magazine
. He is also known by the nicknames of "The Boston Sports Guy" or the "Sports Guy".
His ESPN.com column is written from the viewpoint of a passionate Boston fan, and often uses extended analogies and references to pop culture
in his columns.
He moved to Los Angeles at the end of 2002 to work as a writer for the Jimmy Kimmel Show. He has since left the show to work full-time for ESPN. He has signed a contract to remain with ESPN until 2010.
Simmons currently hosts his own podcast on ESPN.com and iTunes titled "The B.S. Report". When he began his podcast on May 8, 2007, until June 14, it was called "Eye of the Sports Guy". He has also filmed segments for the television series .
He set the record for the longest chat on ESPN's Sportsnation on November 28, 2007, breaking Rob Neyer's previous record. He did the chat to support ESPN's fund raising efforts for the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer. Neyer has since re-broken the record on March 31, 2008 on the opening day of the baseball season. The record now stands at 10 hours and 56 minutes.
He also "officially" announced his candidacy for the position of Milwaukee Bucks general manager.
Simmons grew up in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He attended The Greenwich Country Day School for the eighth and ninth grades. He attended Brunswick School
in Greenwich, Connecticut
and, in 1988, completed a postgraduate year at Choate Rosemary Hall
, a prep school
located in Wallingford, Connecticut
. After being rejected from Boston College
even though both of his parents were employed there, Simmons attended the College of the Holy Cross
, graduating in 1992 with a degree in Political Science. Subsequently, he studied print journalism at Boston University
, where he received his master's degree. Before his affiliation with ESPN, he was known as the "Boston Sports Guy" on the web site Digital City Boston
. Simmons also worked for the Boston Herald
briefly in the 1990s. Simmons was also a bartender for a short time while he established himself on the web. He was originally referred to as "The Sports Guy" by childhood friend Steve Jung.
In the fall of 2002, he moved to California to work as a comedy writer for Jimmy Kimmel's show, Jimmy Kimmel Live. Although he left the show in 2004, he remained in California. Simmons also frequently writes about his non-sports-related personal life in his columns. He often mentions his wife, Kari, but only as "The Sports Gal", and his baby daughter Zoe Josephine, born in the spring of 2005. He and his wife also had a baby boy in October 2007.
Simmons has his own section of ESPN.com's Page 2, titled "Sports Guy's World", and in late 2004 ESPN launched an online cartoon based on his columns (the cartoon has since been discontinued). His wife, Kari, occasionally writes mini-articles within Simmons' own Page 2 articles, on subjects such as hatred of actor Michael Rapaport and searching for good donuts in L.A. He has appeared on I Love the 90s: Part Deux, Colbert Report and Jim Rome Is Burning, and is an occasional guest on several sports talk radio shows.
On October 1, 2005, Simmons released his first book, Now I Can Die In Peace. The book is a collection of his columns, with minor changes and lengthy footnotes, leading up to the 2004 World Series victory by the Boston Red Sox.
In the March 13, 2006, edition of ESPN The Magazine, Simmons revealed that he would be competing in the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event. Simmons busted out of the tournament during his first day of play.
On April 19, 2006, Simmons won the NBA Cares Celebrity Fantasy League beating out Bernie Mac in the final by a score of 1028-852. Other celebrities that participated were Pamela Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew Modine, Michael Rapaport, Star Jones Reynolds, Kenny Smith and Diana Taurasi. Simmons attributed his success to his extensive knowledge of the NBA and to star player Kobe Bryant, as well as the Isiah-esque ineptitude of TNT analyst Kenny Smith.
On July 16, 2007, during the NESN broadcast of the Red Sox/Kansas City Royals game, Jerry Remy read off a letter as to why Bill Simmons should become the president of Red Sox Nation. Remy then went on to reject Simmons's request to become president on account of a remark making light of Remy's alleged chain smoking habit (although Remy only claimed the letter attacked his "health" on the air) and tore up his letter.
In July 2008 Simmons announced that he will be taking 10 weeks off from writing columns for ESPN.com's Page 2 to concentrate on finishing his second book, entitled "The Best Basketball Book Ever Written" which will be released on May 5, 2009.
A native New Englander
, Simmons is a passionate fan of the Boston Red Sox
, New England Patriots
, Holy Cross Crusaders
(his alma mater), and Boston Celtics
. He was a longtime fan of the Boston Bruins
and the NHL
, but claims that their poor management led to his completely losing interest in them---until the 2008 playoffs. Simmons's interest in soccer was piqued by the 2006 FIFA World Cup
. He subsequently wrote a column detailing his efforts to choose an English Premier League
team to follow, eventually selecting Tottenham Hotspur
. Since his column discussing the selection process, he hasn't written any stories on the team or the EPL season. He also passionately roots against certain teams, specifically the New York Yankees
, New York Jets
, Boston College Eagles
, Indianapolis Colts
, Montreal Canadiens
, and Los Angeles Lakers
Simmons's writing is characterized by references to movies
, television shows
such as The Wire
, The Sopranos
, Beverly Hills 90210
, The O.C.
, bias towards Boston-area sports teams, his disdain for the WNBA
, male insecurities, and anxiety about the emasculating effects of wives and girlfriends. His writing frequency has gone from a consistent three columns per week to a sporadic posting of columns, sometimes substituting his ESPN the magazine column, which is shorter. He will also substitute an audio podcast in place of a column.
Simmons frequently mentions friends and family in his column, and trips to Las Vegas or other gambling venues with his friends. He frequently writes about his gambling, whether it's at the blackjack table or his many parlays during football season. On Fridays during the NFL season, he makes picks for every game.
Simmons will also discuss movies (most notably, Hoosiers,
The Godfather, Teen Wolf, The Shawshank Redemption,
Boogie Nights, Dazed and Confused, the Rocky series, and The Karate Kid), favorite TV shows of the past and present (for example, Friday Night Lights), his many fantasy sports teams, memories regarding professional wrestling, especially Roddy Piper (mainly with the WWF/E), video games and even throwing in a few references to adult video. One of his ongoing projects is "The Best 72 Sports Movies of the last 33 Years", which he updates in no particular order. He has named eight of 72 movies and has not written a column for this project since November 27, 2005.
He also occasionally writes columns answering readers' e-mails. He almost always ends these columns with a strange email, followed by the statement "Yup, these are my readers." He also engages in lengthy chat sessions with readers on ESPN.com, and once was the reigning record-holder for the longest one-man chat session in ESPN history clocking in at 7 hours and 4 minutes. Rob Neyer has since reclaimed the record.
One of his recurring columns is his annual Draft Diary, where he discusses watching the NBA Draft, usually with his father, and mocks various aspects of it. He has admitted that the 2007 Draft Diary was his worst and would like a mulligan. The 2008 Draft Diary was his last regular column for ESPN.com before he took a sabbatical to finish his second book.
Simmons has attended several Super Bowls since being hired by ESPN and has admitted to disliking Jacksonville and Houston, citing them as inadequate locales for the event. He gave Arizona slightly better grades overall but said it couldn't compare to the ideal locations of Miami and New Orleans.
Simmons is an avid NBA
fan and is quick to express his opinions over who's doing a good job and who's not. He has heavily criticized Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge
and head coach Doc Rivers
, Los Angeles Clippers
general manager Elgin Baylor
(who once called Simmons an "asshole"), and especially former New York Knicks
coach and general manager Isiah Thomas
. This led to Thomas threatening Simmons on Stephen A. Smith
's radio show in early 2006, saying, "If I see this guy Bill Simmons, oh, it's gonna be a problem with me and him."
In a column posted on ESPN.com on July 19, 2007 Simmons stated that he and Thomas had a half-hour long chat, facilitated by sports announcer Gus Johnson
, about Simmons' criticisms of Thomas, and that Thomas remained civil and cordial throughout.. With regard to Rivers, Simmons wrote an article poking fun at the coach's use of the ubuntu
concept in his locker room.
Ubuntu is an African tradition which emphasizes unity and togetherness. Simmons wavered in his criticism of Rivers as the coach led the Celtics to win the NBA Finals for the first time in 22 years
Simmons and Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy feuded over the presidency of Red Sox Nation. The Red Sox asked Simmons to run for the ceremonial position and he accepted. In a candidate's memo, Simmons remarked that he was a better choice than Remy because he is not a smoker. Remy criticized Simmons for about five minutes during the July 16, 2007 broadcast of the Red Sox - Royals game.
Currently, Bill Simmons appears to be embroiled in a feud with management at ESPN.com. When asked by the editors of Deadspin.com why he had not written a new column in over 2 weeks, he replied
"I still love writing my column and only re-signed last year because I really did believe that we had hashed out all the behind the scenes bullshit and come to some sort of agreement on creative lines, media criticism rules, the promotion of the column and everything else on ESPN.com. Within a few months, all of those things changed and certain promises were not kept. It's as simple as that." .
Immediately before the feud erupted, Simmons was scheduled to interview Sen. Barack Obama for a podcast. Obama was still running against Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Nomination at the time. ESPN nixed the interview, saying that they would only allow its reporters and columnists to interview a presidential candidate once the nomination had been finalized. Deadspin.com believed this was an example of ESPN pulling rank, and speculated that ESPN was thinking, "Some online guy is gonna have Sen. Obama as a guest on his PODCAST? What the hell's a podcast? Better to wait until Stu Scott can talk to him about Carolina hoops after the convention. Why waste the access on a podcast?" As it turns out, Deadspin.com was quite prescient -- Stu Scott interviewed Obama right before the convention began.
Simmons responds to issues in the sports world in a unique way, usually putting a different spin on events, ideas, and theories. He uses such terms so frequently that ESPN.com has a glossary of Simmons conventions, with links to articles in which they were used. He sometimes has stated that something terrible in sports or elsewhere "never happened"--such as the San Antonio Spurs NBA title during the lockout-shorted 1999 season, the Florida Marlins 1997 World Series win, and (repeatedly) Rocky V
One of Simmons's most used Internet memes
has been the Ewing Theory
, the brainchild of reader Dave Cirilli and named after Patrick Ewing
of the New York Knicks
. Ewing's Knicks seemed to play better when he was hurt or in foul trouble. In 1998-99, the Knicks still made the NBA Finals
even after Ewing sustained an Achilles' tendon
injury. The Ewing Theory claims that when a longtime superstar who has never won a championship leaves the team via injury, trade or free agency, and the media writes the team off, the team will play better. However, Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas won an NCAA Championship in 1984, largely due to Ewing's contributions. And since Ewing was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics
in 2000, the Knicks have yet to advance past the first round of the NBA playoffs. Other examples noted by Simmons include:
- The 1994-95 UConn Huskies men's basketball team, who at one point were ranked No. 1 in the country a year after Donyell Marshall left for the NBA.
- The 2004 Boston Red Sox, who traded Nomar Garciaparra mid-season and went on to win their first World Series in 86 years.
- The 1972 Los Angeles Lakers, who won a championship the year Elgin Baylor, who was 0-for-8 in the Finals, retired after nine games (they also won a record 33 consecutive games starting the day after his retirement).
- The 1998 University of Tennessee football team, which won the national championship the year after Peyton Manning left for the NFL.
- The 2001 New England Patriots, who won Super Bowl XXXVI after an injury to Drew Bledsoe forced Tom Brady into the starting quarterback's role.
- In professional wrestling, when Bret Hart left the then-WWF after the Montreal Screwjob in 1997, the WWF went on to have record-setting success.
- In Beverly Hills 90210, when Shannen Doherty was replaced by Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, whose character in the series was perceived as much stronger than Doherty's.
- The 2007 New York Giants, who lost star running back Tiki Barber to retirement before the season, defied all predictions and won the Super Bowl in 2008, defeating the New England Patriots 17–14. The Giants also lost star tight end Jeremy Shockey to injury towards the end of the season. Barber had also voiced his disdain of the Giants and head coach Tom Coughlin at various points during the season.
Given the time since the name Ewing Theory was coined and the Giants Super Bowl XLII victory, a number of readers have suggested the name be updated to the Tiki Theory.
He claims that a recently made Tee Martin Principle is the Ewing Theory, saying that "they're the exact same thing!
One reader asked if Iraq was a contender for the Ewing Theory, based on the notion that the country would become a huge success story after a future withdrawal of U.S. troops. Simmons' response was "No."
Levels of Losing
Another recurring Simmons topic is the 13 Levels of Losing
, where he defines, describes and ranks the most painful ways for a sports team to lose, such as the "Stomach Punch" (a game that ends with an opponent making an improbable and game-winning play; the Music City Miracle
is a good example), or the "Guillotine" (when your team is hanging tough, but somehow you just know they will fail in the clutch
). Not surprisingly, given Simmons' background, he ranks Game 6 of the 1986 World Series
as the most painful defeat in sports history.
Simmons revised and updated the list to have 16 levels because of the New York Mets collapse during the 2007 season and Michigan football's loss to Division I-AA Appalachian State.
Additional Simmons running conventions include referring to players who are no longer effective as having "a giant salad fork sticking out of their back", the Vengeance Scale, the "Juvenation Machine" (used to describe an athlete or team having a strong comeback year), "Theo Ratliff's Expiring Contract" (indicating that player's value as a means of creating salary cap space rather than as an on-court contributor), a cocaine heartbeat (usually referring to trades that should be immediately made) or "I will now light myself on fire" (catchphrase he uses whenever forced to admit an unpleasant truth, such as his 2006 acknowledgment of Kobe Bryant
as the player most deserving of the 2006 NBA MVP
VP of Common Sense
Simmons recently made the semi-serious suggestion that sports teams should hire a Vice President of Common Sense who would be an average fan essentially taken off the street and given no behind-the-scenes knowledge. This official would be called in to assess important transactions; his reaction would be a gauge to help the team notice obviously poor decisions arising from such problems as bureaucracy, groupthink
and hype. By way of introduction to the concept, Simmons said that the VP of Common Sense would have selected Reggie Bush
over Mario Williams
in the 2006 NFL Draft
, though he has since praised Williams' strong play for the Texans.
Reggie Cleveland All-Stars
Simmons also created the "Reggie Cleveland All-Stars", a list of sports figures whose names would seem to indicate that they are of a different race or ethnicity than they actually are. (The namesake is Reggie Cleveland
, a white former pitcher with a "black-sounding" name.)
Simmons officially designated the following players as All-Stars:
It is not clear whether Simmons realizes Grady Sizemore is of mixed race. Many others have been nominated on various websites. He also noted in his 2006 NBA Draft diary that Patrick O'Bryant, a first round pick of the Golden State Warriors, was a "mortal lock" to be named to the All-Star team. In a 2007 column, Simmons named former Denver Broncos linebacker Rulon Jones as a "first-ballot Reggie Cleveland All-Stars Hall of Famer."
In a recent column Bill mentioned that he wanted to name his second child "Nate" so he could create his own Reggie Cleveland All-Star from scratch named Nate Simmons. He said he sounds like a wide receiver/kick returner on the Arizona Cardinals but unfortunately, his wife shot the idea down, briskly.
The Tyson Zone
A more recent Simmons meme is the so-called "Tyson Zone," named in honor of boxer Mike Tyson
. The Tyson Zone is the status an athlete or celebrity reaches when his or her behavior becomes so outrageous that one would believe any story or anecdote about the person, no matter how shocking or bizarre. For instance, if one would not be surprised to hear reports that a particular athlete agreed to fight a caged lion for a sum of money or started a career of breeding unicorns
, that athlete has entered The Tyson Zone.
People who Simmons has officially listed as Tyson Zone members include:
Simmons has stated that Ben Roethlisberger secretly entered the Tyson Zone during the summer of 2006 after news of his motorcycle accident and a later incident involving a burst appendix, for which he was rushed to the hospital.
The term may also be used in adjective form as the word "Tysonic."
Diane Lane All-Stars
Simmons has also referred to celebrities who belong on the Diane Lane
All Star Team, meaning older (over 40), attractive female celebs. "Members" of this All Star team include:
Simmons has also noted that Kelly Ripa will join the list as soon as she turns 40. He compares Maria Bello's fortieth birthday to the day when Jack Nicklaus joined the Senior Tour when he turned 50 -- nobody else has a chance for 3-4 years, making Diane Lane the ceremonial Arnold Palmer-type figure.
Sneaky Hot Hall of Fame
First referenced in a 2007 column, Simmons described Jamie-Lynn Sigler
as "one of those celebs who is prettier in person than on TV", and started the "Sneaky Hot Hall of Fame":
The Lindsey Hunter All Stars
In his August 10, 2007 mailbag, Simmons, with a reader's help, added a new category "The Lindsey Hunter All Stars", a list of male athletes with names that make them sound like a hot girl.
Simmons has the following players as All-Stars:
Simmons commonly makes gambling references in his articles. He typically prefaces gambling remarks with the statement, "if gambling were legal."
The Manning face
is a known facial expression
displaying a mix of frustration and disgust. It is most often displayed by NFL quarterback Peyton Manning
and his younger brother, Eli
Although the expression was named for the Manning brothers, the term has become synonymous with other professional sports players and coaches, including New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin. It was coined in 2004 and was later defined by Malcolm Gladwell as "the look of someone who has just faced up to a sobering fact: I am in complete control of this offense. I prepare for games like no other quarterback in the NFL. I am in the best shape of my life. I have done everything I can to succeed -- and I'm losing. Ohmigod. I'm not that good." Simmons still refers to this despite his own home team's loss in the 2007 playoffs, later writing "Eli Manning gave me the Eli Manning face!"
I'm Keith Hernandez
When a person seems to do something completely off the wall and/or completely outrageous for no other reason than he or she is famous and feels he can get away with it or not face repercussions from it, Simmons will say he is having an "I'm Keith Hernandez Moment
". The reference comes from the famous Seinfeld episode
where Keith Hernandez
, on a date with Elaine
, tries to convince himself to kiss Elaine by reciting (in his head), "Wait a second - I'm Keith Hernandez!" The most commonly used example of an athlete in an "I'm Keith Hernandez" Moment is Reggie Bush
's ill-advised lateral against Texas
in the 2006 Rose Bowl