Visions Of Grantland: Bill Simmons’ Lost Opportunity To Do Something New

  • Dave Levy

A few Fridays ago, an anonymous Twitter user with a wonderfully delightful bio about being a sports columnist without a newsroom – Mr. Sports Journo – launched into one of the greatest multi-tweet rants in recent memory.

The topics at hand? Bill Simmons, Grantland and hero worship. Clocking in with more than 60 separate tweets, @BIGSPORTSWRITER made it from the Puffy to Garth Brooks in less moves than a good game of Kevin Bacon – both a worthy homage to the writing style that made Simmons so widely known and a brilliant critique in and of itself.

Among the comments about Simmons, his writing and a little touch on right-place-right-time luck, Journo tacks this thought to the wall regarding Grantland:

That’s what was promised, right? As the news trickled in through the spring about the people Simmons was picking up for his stable of writers – big names like Chuck Klostermann and Dave Eggers, and then some of the Internet-famous best-in-blogging-class writers like Katie Baker – it started to look like an expansion franchise that had the gusto to take your best player. I wondered aloud at one point if there was going to be some sort of Franchise Tag system to prevent Simmons from stealing the best of the sports blogging world.

Then the “If you get it, you get it” name for Grantland was announced, and the stable seemed primed to jump right into the world of leading sports news sites. I waited for that first post on noon last Wednesday, and it came: “Welcome to Grantland,” read the headline, the blinking lights and neon sign of a new amusement park where sports, culture and the best writers of this era would be our hosts.

The white background was sterile, yet clean. The font was the almost WordPress-standard Georgia that looks completely commonplace these days – hell, it’s the same one Gawker uses on all its sites. This was new media. I started reading Simmons’ Coldplay-soundtracked introduction story of the night of the debut of Jimmy Kimmel Live. There, in a webpage framed by a handful of reader footnotes and hosted by ESPN, was the word “Fuck.” I scrolled to the end, there was a period, a bio sentence and the end of the page.

This wasn’t new.

»» NEXT: Bill Simmons’ decision.