(Reuters) - ESPN on Wednesday suspended high-profile commentator Bill Simmons for three weeks over critical comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of a high-profile domestic violence case.
Simmons, who runs ESPN’s Grantland website and appears frequently on air, used strong language in accusing Goodell in a “BS Report” podcast of lying about his knowledge of details of Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice’s domestic violence case.
“I think that dude is lying,” Simmons said, adding that for Goodell and others “to pretend they didn’t know is such fucking bullshit.”
The domestic violence issue emerged when Goodell suspended Rice for two games for knocking out fiancée Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, in a New Jersey casino elevator in February. Many saw the commissioner’s penalty as too light.
Only when a video of the punch emerged on the website TMZ on Sept. 8 did Goodell decide to suspend Rice indefinitely. The Ravens then cut Rice from the team.
Last week, Goodell announced plans to overhaul how the league deals with player behavior and punishment, with experts from outside the NFL helping to shape the new policy.
“Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards,” the company said in a statement, adding that Simmons had failed to meet those standards.
Later in Tuesday’s podcast, Simmons seemed to be aware that his statements could invite controversy.
“I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell,” he said. “The commissioner is a liar and I get to talk about that on my podcast.”
Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; Editing by Eric Beech