Tag Archives: Dear Bill Simmons

Bill, I heard you got suspended

Dear Bill Simmons:

I just heard the news, that you got suspended from ESPN. Man, I’m really sorry that you’re in trouble, but I just want to let you know that I’m standing with you all the way. That’s right, I’m suspending myself from ESPN also. Because you were just saying what everyone else was already thinking, that, as an organization, the NFL is corrupt, and that the commissioner totally knew about that Ray Rice video.


Whatever, I’m not going to say anything here that hasn’t been said a million times already. I like watching football, but the NFL just sucks. They don’t want to pay anybody for getting thoroughly beat up on a weekly basis and then getting dementia not long after. The cheerleaders make less than minimum wage. Every time you watch a game, you have to sit through those ridiculous Faith Hill country intros.

Yeah, I’m with you Bill, after your suspension is over, I want you to tell ESPN to go take a hike. Maybe they should suspend themselves. But they’ll never do that. They don’t have the guts. They’re too beholden to the NFL, to Monday Night Football.

Bill, I hope you’re not going too hard on yourself. I know this isn’t your first suspension, but it’s still got to sting a little bit. I remember the first time I got suspended. I was waiting tables and this lady said to me, “I’m very allergic to citrus. I can’t stress enough, no citrus.” And I was like, “Yes, OK, I get it, no citrus.” And so she ordered a salad and I thought, that’s fine, nothing citrusy there. Except, as soon as she took a bite, she called me over and told me that she was having an allergic reaction. She’s fine, she survived, but it turned out that there was lemon or grapefruit in the salad dressing.

They suspended me. And I went through a whole range of emotions, anger, fatigue, more anger. I got over it eventually. In fact, after half a day or so of just kind of moping around, I actually felt really good. Because come on, I hate waiting tables. So to not have to go in for three weeks was, for me anyway, sort of like a gift. I’m not going to lie, after my suspension was over, I went back into that restaurant and, weeks later, I saw the same citrus lady. And I was just having such a bad night that I couldn’t help but to at least consider the possibility of giving her some key lime pie on the house, maybe get myself another three-week vacation.

But yeah, you probably love your job. I’d love your job too. I was on this kick where I was asking you for a job every week for a while, but I never heard from you. And so, from my point of view, it’s kind of like I’ve always been in a state of permanent suspension from ESPN and Grantland.

That’s not cool, making this about me. This has nothing to do with me. This is about you. Bill, with all of this free time in front of you, there’s so much to take advantage of, especially this time of year. You can go out to eastern Long Island and pick apples and take a hayride. A lot of places serve warm apple cider. You’ve got to go early in the day though, because all of the people from the city show up in swarms, parking their cars wherever they feel like it, asking the apple pie place dumb questions like, “Is this apple pie gluten free?”

Or you could do whatever. I’m sure it won’t be difficult finding cool stuff to do. Because three weeks Bill, that’s a lot, but it’ll go by fast. And then you’ll be back in the daily grind and there’s going to be some other NFL public relations disaster, and this time your boss is going to be like, “Simmons! Don’t even think about saying anything bad about the NFL!” And what are you going to do? No use worrying about that now. Just, take solace in the fact that you stood up for what you believed in, and now you don’t have to go to work for three weeks. And even if you got fired from ESPN, you’d still be ridiculously popular and you could start your own web site and the NFL would probably go bankrupt in no time. You’ve got them right where you want them, Bill. And I’ve totally got your back.

Hey Bill, did you ever watch Storylords?

Dear Bill Simmons:

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this before, but when I was in the second grade, our teacher, Mrs. Cosgrove, she used to show us these educational videos every now and then. I’m sure teaching a bunch of little kids has got to be a physically and emotionally draining way to spend a day, so I don’t really begrudge the fact that she’d phone it in once in a while by turning on the TV and telling us to be quiet. But while everyone else would get all excited whenever the maintenance guy would knock on the door to wheel in one of the school’s TVs, my heart would stop.


I went into school every single day with a pit in my stomach, a constant fear. Would today be the day? Because there wasn’t a schedule. It wasn’t like, “OK class, it’s 10:30 on Wednesday, so you know what that means, educational TV time.” No, it was just whenever the teacher felt like it. Sometimes we’d go months without so much as a spotting of a VHS tape. But then maybe we’d watch TV for two or three days in a row. I couldn’t rest. There was no escape from the fear. Every day had the potential to turn into a TV day without any warning.

And it wasn’t the TV that I was afraid of, it was this one particular show that we had to watch. It was called Storylords. It was about this little kid around my age and his younger sister. Each episode, they were visited by this wizard guy from another dimension. His world was overrun by this crazy warlord named Thorzul.

Thorzul as a screen presence wasn’t that scary. It was really bad, cheap acting, just some guy in a black cape. He kind of looked like my dentist. But it was his character, this dictator of that other world, he had powers. He could turn people into stone. I’m not sure that it was a central part of the plot, I’m pretty sure the show was all about teaching kids how to read, but every episode, it’s like they didn’t have anything else to fall back on, and so he’d zap someone into a statue.

And I was terrified. Like sitting there, sweating bullets, looking around at all my classmates, unable to understand how they were all just sitting there, smiling, watching TV, all while I was trying my best to keep it together, to not freak out and start screaming, terrified.

I’m a little fuzzy on the specifics of the show, but for whatever reason, that wizard that I was talking about earlier, he would always need the kids’ help. So he teleported them to his home dimension where they’d have to confront Thorzul and, well, they’d have to basically take an oral spelling and grammar quiz. “Spell this word correctly or I’ll turn you into a statue! Just like I turned these two guys into statues!”

And yeah, they always got it right, and then not only would they be spared an eternal hell, a life trapped in living stone, but the other statues would usually be restored back to life also. But man, for whatever reason, the idea of it, of being forced to ace a pop quiz, the pressure of getting it wrong, of feeling my insides harden as my skin turned grey. And what would it look like? What would be the last thing I’d see before my eyes cemented over? Would I be dead? Or just trapped forever?

I’d barely make it through each episode, just quivering in my seat, hands clenched tightly around the sides of my desk, unable to shake that feeling of having just been mentally violated. What was the point of these videos? Why was my school trying to reinforce my already pretty decent reading and writing skills by terrorizing me into never making any mistakes?

And so that’s what most of my year was like, just praying that it wouldn’t be a TV day, that I wouldn’t have to watch Storylords.

But it always happened, maybe not immediately, but eventually, there’d be a knock at the door, everyone would get all excited, the maintenance guy would drag in that set, an old fashioned box mounted on top of a rolling dolly. It all came to a head one day midyear, Mrs. Cosgrove popped in the Storylords VHS, and instead of the usual introductory exposition, this particular episode skipped straight to the terror.

The kids were sitting in school, in a classroom not that different from the one I was currently sitting in. Then, a flash of light, and there they appeared, Thorzul and his little henchman, they had somehow crossed over into our reality, taken the fight to us, a surprise offensive. He skipped the normal pleasantries and used his powers to partially turn the little boy into stone. He could look around, but he couldn’t move or talk. Then the dark lord turned to the sister, “All right! Answer my phonics questions correctly or your brother’s a statue for good!”

At this point I couldn’t take it anymore. I broke down and started screaming, running out of the classroom and straight into the boys’ restroom. Crouched in the corner with my hands covering my eyes, I tried to get myself together, to stop myself from crying at least, hoping that nobody had seen where I’d run.

But of course they knew where to look. And it was a huge deal. Mrs. Cosgrove was like, “What’s wrong with you?” completely unable to make the connection between Thorzul’s wrath and my little episode. They took me to the principal’s, my mom was called in. I remember sitting there in the office while my mom and Mrs. Cosgrove watched the program that had caused my rather extreme reaction.

I felt like such a baby. And this wasn’t the first time my mom had to be called in to quell an emotional panic. A year earlier, one of my classmates brought the whole room some candy for her birthday. I was passed this little yellow box of JujyFruits. I’d never seen this candy before, and on the box was this illustration of a cartoon girl. It was a poorly drawn almost stick-like figure, pale white skin with a little squiggly line for a mouth. For whatever reason, I made eye contact with the drawing and this wretched creature pulled me into some sort of a void. I couldn’t identify the feelings at the time, but they’re the same exact responses I get now as an adult when I’m occasionally lying in bed wide-awake at four in the morning thinking about how someday I and everyone I know will …


Well, there’s no reason to get too morbid here. But it was that same feeling again this time with Thorzul, only now the fear wasn’t as abstract as it was the year before. I sat there and worried if I was going to be in trouble, if all the other kids were going to make fun of me for running out of the classroom.

But no, my mom finished up her talk with Mrs. Cosgrove, she took me home, and that was it, really. There wasn’t anything to talk about, and nobody in school mentioned it when I came back the next day. Also, we never watched Storylords ever again. So there was that, I didn’t have to sit there and worry every day, that was definitely a relief.

Anyway, the only reason I bring this up is because, well, I was just imagining what it’s going to be like when you finally give me a call and ask me to write for Grantland. I thought, what if Bill asks me one of those interview questions, like, “What’s your biggest weakness?” or “Tell me about a situation in which you overcame a great obstacle.” And I thought about this, about the second grade, about Storylords. That story would work for either of those questions. Right? Because I overcame it. Or, I caused a huge scene and got my way. That took initiative. Right? Don’t you want that in an employee?

OK, well, that’s it I guess. Give me a call.

Hope you have a great weekend,

Rob G.

Why the triangle offense works in almost any … you know what? No. Bill, I’m not sorry at all.

Dear Bill Simmons:

You know what? No. I take it back, the apology. When I closed the book on you the first time, I should have kept it closed. I feel like such an idiot, crawling back to you last week, apologizing. How about this for an apology? I’m sorry that I’m not sorry anymore. Because yeah, this is it, for real Bill, we’re through.


Which is too bad for you, because I have so much more to write about. Like today, I had this whole idea about how I was going to write to you about the Knicks, about Phil Jackson, about the triangle offense. It’s not just a winning strategy for basketball. You can use the triangle offense to come out a winner in almost any day-to-day situation.

Like, say you’re at a restaurant, and you’re worried that you’re not getting enough attention from the waiter. The service is slow, his remarks to basic questions are caked with thinly concealed scorn. What do you do, complain to the manager? No, you grab two buddies and you mount a triangle offense. You order first, then the next guy, then the third, one after the other, giving the server not even a second to gain his footing.

“I’ll have a Coke.”

“Make that two Cokes.”

“Make it three.”

“You know what? I’ll actually have an iced tea.”

“Hold up, that sounds great, make mine iced tea also.”

“Same for me, three iced teas.”

Just around and around and around, it works everywhere, not just on the court, not just at restaurants. But at the mechanic. Every time you go to the shop you always wind up spending more money than you thought you’d have to. The shocks suddenly need replacing, or they want to scrub out the transmission, whatever that means. And what happens? You always wind up paying out the wazoo. Why? Because you’re but a single dot.

Bring along a friend and turn that dot into a line. And then find one more person and make three lines, and turn those three lines into a triangle. When the mechanic is looking under the hood, make sure that you’re all surrounding him from three equidistant points.

“How’s the viscosity on that oil?”

“What’s your opinion on tiptronic transmission?”

“Do you guys have any other air fresheners besides these cotton candy scented ones?”

It doesn’t matter if the questions are only loosely related to cars, just keep them coming, one after the other, and with three people, there’s just enough downtime in between to make sure you don’t stumble over your own words.

But whatever Bill, why am I even explaining this to you? You don’t care about the triangle offense. You don’t care about anything. Maybe it was a little premature of me, but back when I started writing these letters to you a few months ago, I went ahead and had bunch of business cards printed that said, “Staff writer: Grantland.” Do you know how stupid I look after I hand them out and people start asking for links to my work? “Well, you see, I’m not hired just yet …”

And yeah, I guess that’s not really your fault. Maybe I shouldn’t be projecting all of this negative energy your way, just because you haven’t somehow stumbled upon my web site. Yeah, actually, maybe I’m being too hard on you Bill. Maybe I owe you an apology …

No! Wait, that’s what I did last week. I thought you’d see it and tell me, “Rob, that was big of you, apologizing like that. We’re looking for big people like you to write for Grantland. Welcome aboard.” And it didn’t happen, and I just looked like even more of an idiot.

You know what I need? I need like two other writers, and we’ll start hitting Grantland with our own triangle offense. Is that cool Bill? Can I bring two of my friends to have jobs at Grantland with me? Because if the answer’s no, if you won’t bring all three of us on board, then you don’t get any of us. OK?

Not that I even want your stupid job anymore anyway. I can tell when I’m not wanted.

Unless you’re playing coy, in which case, I’m in.

But if you’re just ignoring me, I’m out.

Sorry I’m not sorry.

Disrespectfully yours,

Rob G.

Bill, I’m sorry

Dear Bill Simmons:


I’m sorry I wrote you out of my life last week. I want to take it back. I know how cheesy this all must sound, me, making a big, dramatic farewell speech to you and then undoing it a week later. Because I know, everybody keeps telling me I have to make decisions and stick to them. When I was writing out that goodbye, tears streaming down my face, snot running down my nose, when I was in between sobs I recognized that, regardless of how much it hurts, I have to close this chapter of my life. Once I do this, there’s no going back.

And I tried, Bill. I really tried to put you out of my head. But I kept clicking on the Grantland home page. I’d turn around at work and the TV above the bar would be showing a clip of you talking on ESPN. I couldn’t hear what you were talking about, because all of the TVs are muted, and I don’t get why restaurants bother to have TVs on, if they’re just going to show a bunch of guys silently yapping away, without even the benefit of subtitles to give you the option of reading what the conversation might be about.

Anyway, it was a rough week. It felt similar to when my grandfather died a few years back. That sting of emptiness, the palpable sense of loss. Only, with my grandfather, I started to feel better after a few days, coming to terms with the inevitability of death, getting a small taste of my own mortality. With you it was different. Each day that passed since I told you we were through, the level of pain intensified.

I started waking up in the middle of the night crippled with regret. I kept reading and rereading my last letter to you. Why would I do something so stupid? Who gives up on a one-way correspondence with the Sports Guy after only two months? Bill, I realize that I’ve made a huge mistake, and if you’re willing to look past my very momentary lapse in judgment, I’d like to pick up where we left off: me, writing you a letter each week, begging you for a job, and you, blissfully unaware of my existence, hopefully one day stumbling upon this treasure trove of writing, you’ll be so overcome by my persistence, my faith in a dream, you’ll blurt out at your desk, “Hire this man!”

And your secretary will walk in and ask you, “Mr. Simmons, did you just say something? I was down the hall pouring a cup of coffee when we all heard you say something pretty loudly.” And that’ll kind of jolt you back to reality. You’ll explain that you were talking about me, this web site, the letters. Do it Bill, hire me to write for Grantland.

I really am sorry about last week. I hope that you can forgive me. Again, your feelings of confusion, frustration, and eventual forgiveness might be a little disjointed, depending on when you discover all of this, and in what order you decide to read these letters, if you read any of them at all. I guess it’s a little arrogant of me to assume you’ll have time for all of them. Maybe you’ll skip last week’s mistake and you won’t know what I’m talking about. Or maybe you’ll jump right to this week’s apology, and I’ll only have served to point you in the direction of that mistake. If I could just keep my mouth shut and stop talking about it for a second, perhaps we could both move on, pretend like it never happened.

I wish I could just go back and delete it. Well, I guess I could. But then what if you look at the whole list of letters and notice a gap where last week’s should have been? You’ll either think that I’m a slacker, not committed to my craft, or worse, you’ll assume that I have something to hide, which I kind of do. I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should just write some generic sounding letter and put it where last week’s letter was.

OK, I think I might be over-thinking this. Bill, I’m sorry I abandoned you. It’ll never happen again. That’s a promise. I don’t care if I ever get a job at Grantland, I’ll still write to you every week, begging. Please, let me write for Grantland. Come on Bill, give me a job. I’ll write about anything you want. Anything.

I’m really, really, really, really sorry,

Rob G.

Dear Bill Simmons: Goodbye Forever

Dear Bill Simmons:

I’m not sure how much longer I can write these letters to you every week. I’m running out of stuff to talk about. In fact, that’s what I wrote about last week, that I was running out of ideas. That’s something you can’t get away with two weeks in a row. Maybe this isn’t going anywhere. You can only cover so much in an imaginary, one-sided relationship. I mean, I don’t really know you, not any better than anybody else on the Internet does. And while yeah, I know some stuff about some sports, mostly New York Islanders related hockey stuff, if I ever did get an interview with you, and you started asking me anything about the NBA, or the New York Rangers, or anybody besides David Wright on the Mets, you’d probably be pretty disappointed in the overall trajectory of the conversation.


Actually, that’s not true, I’m great at faking my way through most chit-chat, sports or otherwise. I know exactly when to say stuff like, “Yes,” and “Right,” and then I find the perfect moment to insert something cool that I read on Grantland. That’s how I found out about you, about the web site. It’s like, after so many years of standing at the periphery of group conversations, hoping that the topic of discussion might eventually turn to something other than sports, I found your writing, it drew me in, the way you can write about sports that doesn’t immediately cause me to lose consciousness.

That’s what I want to be a part of. Or, wanted to anyway. Like I was alluding to in the first paragraph, I don’t think it’s happening. I’ve been writing these letters to you every week on my blog for about two months now. And as the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, for two months, and if after that you still don’t see any progress, just give up on it dude, because how long are you going to keep it up for? Three months? A year? Just cut your losses and get out while you still can.”

I guess this is goodbye, Bill. I feel like I just got to imagine what it would have been like to have just gotten to know you. But whatever, I mean, just because you have a dream, doesn’t mean that it’s going to come true, right? And it’s not like I have nothing. Sure, I’m not writing for Grantland, having a wide, far-reaching audience of people being exposed to my work. But I have this site right here, this little blog. That’s something. Chuck Klosterman doesn’t write for me, but that’s cool, I don’t need Chuck. I don’t need you Bill. I don’t need anybody.

OK, I apologize, I was getting a little emotional there. There’s no need for me to be a baby about this, I just get a little overwhelmed sometimes with farewells. You’ve got your life, I’ve got mine. I’ll get through this. Maybe some day we’ll be walking opposite directions through a crowded city street. Time might start to slow down for a second as we cross each other’s paths. For whatever reason, we’ll make brief eye contact. I’ll give you a really subtle nod, a casual smile. You … well, you have no idea who I am, so even if you reciprocate the gesture, it’ll be totally hollow on your part, leaving you with a weird sense of, “Why do people keep nodding at me? What’s wrong with that guy?”

I could go on and on forever Bill, it’s like, some part of me never wants this to end. But it has to. Don’t try to talk me out of it. Or, if you’re reading this for the first time, but it’s years from now, I guess you can still call me up and offer me a job. But I have be realistic. You’re just way too popular for me to be constantly begging you for work every week from my very tiny, almost imperceptibly small corner of the Internet.

But it’s cool. I wish you nothing but the best in the future. If, by some bizarre twist of fate, I ever wind up creating an insanely popular sports and pop culture web site, and you for some reason fall on really hard times, struggle to find your way back to the top, but can’t get out from languishing in obscurity, and you start your own very small web site, and you start writing open letters to me every week, asking me for a job, I’ll totally make something happen for you. Even if I already have a different Bill Simmons working for me, even if he’s not even a writer, like he’s just an accountant or something, I’ll make room for one more Bill Simmons. I’ll even give you the good BSimmons@ email address and I’ll make that other Bill switch to BISimmons@. Unless you don’t feel like inheriting the other Bill’s spam folder. In which case … you know what? Let’s just say that we’ll cross that bridge if we get there.

Goodbye forever,

Rob G.