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Bill Simmons slams ESPN, network prez rips him right back

It’s no secret ESPN has lost plenty of talent in recent months.

Heather CoxCris Carter, Ray Lewis, Joe SchadTrent DilferMike Tirico and Skip Bayless have left the company, and Chris Berman is expected to retire, or be re-assigned at the end of next year.

But when it comes to Bill Simmons and ESPN, no pairing has been nastier in the media than these two media powerhouses.

First Simmons fired a blistering take at his former employer, per Hollywood Reporter:

…He adds of the recent rash of ESPN departures, which include Keith Olbermann and Jason Whitlock: “They’ve now gotten rid of everybody who is a little off the beaten path. Ask yourself this: ‘Who would work there that you respect right now?’ “

Simmons has since apologized for the take, but continued that he wondered if the ultimate decision to let him go from ESPN came from Disney chief exec Robert Iger after Simmons verbally brutalized NFL commish Roger Goodell.

“One of my working theories was, maybe this was driven by Iger because he wants a team.”

ESPN president John Skipper couldn’t hold back from firing back with his own scorching take, via the New York Times:

“Bill would rather spin conspiracy theories and be perceived as a martyr than take responsibility for his own actions. Let me be unequivocal and clear and take responsibility for my actions: I alone made the decision, and it had nothing to do with his comments about the commissioner. I severed our relationship with Bill because of his repeated lack of respect for this company and, more importantly, the people who work here.”

The network has been relatively mum on any reaction to Simmons’ repeated takedowns of the worldwide leader, but this one seems to be just heating up as the Sports Guy lifts off with HBO.

More than a year later, the two sides can’t help but give each other the virtual middle finger.

Prashad is the Senior Content Editor for Cox Media Group's FanBuzz.com. He considers Muhammad Ali, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce some of the all-time greats. Boston is TitleTown, in case you were wondering.
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