Bill Simmons Has a Potty Mouth

When Bill Simmons does his ESPN podcasts, they’re preceded by the infamous disclaimer, “The BS Report is a free-flowing conversation that occasionally touches on mature subjects.” That never presages anything more risque than the occasionally off-color or bleeped remark.

When Simmons goes on Adam Carolla’s podcast, he earns that warning and then some. (NSFW language ahead.)

Bill Simmons: red background, blue streak.

Bill Simmons: red background, blue streak.

Simmons joined Carolla, seemingly in Carolla’s house, for a Friday podcast posted on Thursday, and the topics, as is typical with Carolla, turned scatological quickly.

Simmons’ first line of the podcast is great: “And I all of a sudden feel like I have a very small penis.”

He’s referring to Carolla’s lifetime podcast traffic, which dates back to Monday, being north of a million downloads already, dwarfing Simmons’ best week ever.

There’s some general Los Angeles talk for about a minute, some podcasting discussion, and the talk turns to, well, pleasuring one’s self. They discuss the “Carolla Spunk Rule” at the three-minute mark and “spunk shui” shortly after; there’s also some discussion of efficiency.

The discussion turns to the Oscars, and the inevitable Oscar-winning movie pitches these two are famous for, around the 11:30 mark. Simmons comes up with Brokeback Secret Admirer, about two male best friends falling in love, and then Carolla pitches what turns into Just One of the Gays, a Shia LaBeouf vehicle with him attending Harvey Milk High School, a highly-respected private school with the sort of population you would expect with that name, and falling in love with a cross-dressing Dakota Fanning.

Admittedly, it’s funny, and I chortled along with Simmons. But I don’t have any rules imposed on my sense of humor, and I’m not sure ESPN will enjoy the extremely non-PC nature of this conversation.

At around the 21:00 mark, they start talking about bachelor party etiquette, which elicits the old NBA story about the Jason Kidd-Jimmy Jackson-Toni Braxton love triangle a “famous basketball story” about an NBA team “in the playoffs one year” with two stars “bangin’ the same chick” and a third player telling his wife, who told the star’s wife, and the team lost in the first round of the playoffs. (Thanks for the correction, mr pickles. Anyone know who the team is?)

This also gets Simmons to say “Benedict Cockblock” a few times.

Near the 24:30 mark, Simmons says “I actually get bummed out by strippers.” Then he clarifies: “Not the hot ones!” Then he talks about the “YouPorn premise” of strip clubs, and the folly of waiting for the most attractive dancer. It’s all entertaining and in the vein of classic dorm-room discussions. But, again, how would ESPN feel?

The talk turns to bathroom attendants at around the 29:00 point, which leads to, at 29:08, Bill Simmons saying:

“You don’t want to be thinking about this poor dude who’s trapped in a bathroom, smelling like somebody’s shit the whole night.”

It’s the first four-letter word I can recall Simmons not having censored. It’s not the last of the podcast.

At 32:00 or so, Simmons rehashes the college bathroom discussion from one of his podcasts this week (click to listen, right-click to save), dropping:

“See, you didn’t go to college, so you missed out on—and I talked about this the other day, on a podcast—how fucking disgusting the bathrooms are.”

He follows that bomb with describing his dorm bathrooms on a Sunday:

“You’re just like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go take a pee,’ and, like, stall one, covered in shit. Stall two, puke and shit. Stall three, just puke. Stall four, maybe I can wipe down the pee and sit on it.”

And he cites reader emails sent to him through ESPN, including, specifically, the old-standing-on-a-used-condom-in-the-shower problem, as evidence that the current state of affairs is no better.

The puerile, scatological humor then turns into puerile, sexual humor, with a discussion about compiling discs of the uncensored nudity of various reality shows around the 37:00 mark that prompts, out of the blue, Simmons taking a shot at college athletes keeping mum about payments. The audio editor in the room, a former Big Brother editor, relays an interesting anecdote about one former contestant, too.

Now, the podcast’s only 45 minutes, and in the wrap-up, Simmons gives his view of the future of podcasting, then Carolla mentions having Norm MacDonald on and shares a brief and horrifying anecdote about him, then Simmons mentions wanting to hear Jim Norton’s “ten most deviant sexual moments.”

“It’s a podcast,” Simmons reasons, “it’s not like people—you have to listen to it.”

Sure, it is, and this particular one is enjoyable, but I can only imagine how quickly ESPN shuts Simmons’ moonlighting down when they catch wind of Simmons’ potty mouth. Yes, he’s been profane in Internet ink before, while roasting Will Leitch on Deadspin, but that wasn’t part of his burgeoning podcast career, and definitely wasn’t while he had a sponsor attached to the podcast. (Though, really, this is an actual fresh take from Simmons.)

Considering the controversy last year that got Simmons’ podcast shut down briefly and was part of the greater Rick Reilly-Bill Simmons feud, I should think ESPN has rebuked Simmons by email and phone already, that someone’s made mention of this. That this should happen in the same week Simmons is featured in an ESPN.com commercial is even less opportune for the Worldwide Leader.

But the profanity is far less important than the perceived gay-bashing.

ESPN has had all sorts of incidents in the past few years, and thanks to the magic of the Internet and Deadspin, we know about most of them.

When Chris Berman bellowed the f-word at the Monday Night Football crew, ESPN handed down an apology. When Dana Jacobson ranted about Notre Dame at a roast, she was suspended for a week. When Scott Van Pelt ripped into Bud Selig, he left the airwaves briefly.

The thing is this: ESPN can be capricious and short on explanation with its suspensions (you can read this excellent column from the former ESPN ombudsmarm, about other suspensions, to confirm that), but one of the things you must not do is offend the sponsors or meal tickets.

ESPN televises Major League Baseball. ESPN has many Notre Dame connections. ESPN doesn’t care as much about the feelings of the faceless interns Berman shouted down.

You might be able to connect those things to the respective punishments.

Because of this, and because Simmons has gotten away scot-free with the four-letter words on a competitor’s site in a similar environment (though, to be honest, ESPN having to acknowledge Deadspin in any sort of response would have complicated the problem), I’ll guess the profanity, directed at no one, and offensive only to the overly sensitive, leaves no lasting marks.

Now, the off-color comments in the movie pitches might not play well in the LGBT community. Disney prides itself on being a gay-friendly company, even risking protests from the other front in the culture wars. Heck, gay couples can even get married at Cinderella’s castle if they want.

So what Disney and Simmons’ podcast sponsor do in reacting to his tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm for Just One of the Gays is a little more difficult to predict. My gut tells me that ESPN’s had a phone conversation with the Sports Guy since that podcast went up, and that we may never see Simmons on Carolla’s show or vice versa again.

The latter would be a shame, but, whether the masses of anti-censorship fans like it or not, ESPN has a contract with Simmons that restricts him to a certain vocabulary and set of topics. He can either fulfill the contract, which pays him tidy sums of money, and toe the line most of the time, or he could consciously self-immolate, gun for a breach of contract, and try to head for less fenced-in fields. (I’d assume, though, that he has some sort of non-compete clause that would preclude some of that.)

Conspiracy theorists (like, for example, Simmons himself) would tend to think that there’s some truth to the “I want to be fired” line of thinking, but Simmons is a husband and father with two kids living in a nice home in Southern California. He would be beyond stupid to try to negate a contract that rewards him as handsomely as his current one does, especially as he’s settling into a rhythm with this NBA season, spending the day of the trade deadline with Baron Davis and writing this tome of a column, one of his best in years.

Update: From the man himself, in another rambling Mailbag:

Q: I listened to your spot on Adam Carolla’s new podcast, and for the first time ever you swore and it wasn’t bleeped out. It was surreal, and I gotta say I’m developing a taste for it, Simmons. I’m afraid I won’t be able to go back to the genteel Sports Guy. It’s like your long-term girlfriend, who’s really conservative in bed, gets really drunk one night and she unexpectedly turns into an animal. How can you go back? How?!
— Max R., Sydney

SG: Just wait until my book comes out! Lots of swears and even a few completely inappropriate topics handled without any diplomacy whatsoever. I couldn’t be more delighted. Get ready for more animal sex with me, Max from Sydney. OK, bad choice of words.

You can, again, visit the post with the podcast here, but you can also right-click and download this, which is the podcast in MP3 format.

Thanks for reading.

41 Comments

Filed under Bill Simmons, ESPN, Media Personalities

41 responses to “Bill Simmons Has a Potty Mouth

  1. Let him say what he wants. He’s a writer, a speaker and an envelope-pusher by trade. It’s not done under the umbrella of ESPN, so it shouldn’t be a problem for the network.

  2. Interesting post. I’d hope that ESPN wouldn’t come down on him for this, as it’s not really connected to them and he should be able to say what he wants on his own time. The ESPN/Disney mindset would suggest that they probably will, though, which in my mind is unfortunate. You have to wonder how these guys were able to handle having Hunter S. Thompson as a writer…

  3. mr pickles

    The NBA story wasn’t the Toni Braxton one. The Mavericks didn’t make the playoffs in the mid-90s.

  4. Thanks, mr pickles. Got any ideas as to who the team and principals are?

  5. mr pickles

    No clue. I don’t know any NBA rumors/conspiracy theories more obscure than Jordan getting secretly suspended for gambling.

  6. heapoftears

    to the author of the blurb…
    Lighten up Fransis.

  7. Meno

    Thanks for the free advertising, you pathetic little pussy.

  8. Harry Seaward

    OMG! A grown man said a dirty word!

  9. WTF

    I’m supposed to be outraged? It’s called comedy, you pussies. Jesus Christ, get a fucking life.

  10. J

    You just wrote a thousand words about a grown man saying swear words on someone else’s podcast. I’m glad you could take time out of your busy schedule of boycotting your supermarket because of the suggestive shape of cucumbers to do this valuable public service.

  11. @heap: If that’s directed at me, I have no problem with Simmons being a little profane; in fact, I think I’d rather read and listen to him uncensored. ESPN may think differently.

    @Meno: Thanks for reading?

    @Harry: A grown man who frequently protests ESPN’s rather stringent censorship rules is a bit more newsworthy than your average bear.

    @WTF: You’re not supposed to be outraged. ESPN, maybe.

    @J: Actually, 932 words. And I’ve never boycotted a supermarket, nor will I boycott Simmons/ESPN.

  12. WTF

    Whatever, Rockabye. Nice passive/agressive agenda.

    Why else would you clip out the most “offensive” material from a non-ESPN comedy podcast, and post it out-of-context under a salacious headline?

    Because ESPN might care? What are you, the class tattle-tale?

  13. @WTF: I thought I represented the context about as accurately as I could. Certainly, the only way to get the proper context of the conversation in full is to listen to all of it, which I have now done twice.

    I wrote and posted this post because, while neither you or I has a huge problem with Bill Simmons cursing on a comedy podcast, ESPN has taken umbrage with him being even a little off-color on his own ESPN podcast in the past. This, in the grander scheme of the Simmons-ESPN relationship, could be seen as anything from Simmons being Simmons to him trying to give ESPN legitimate cause to fire him. Maybe this isn’t life-altering news, but, in the realm of sports media and sports blogging, it’s important.

    Further, the blue language won’t be as much of a problem as the off-color remarks about the gay community Simmons and Carolla make in discussing their fake movies. Carolla’s a radio guy who was known for his teenage sense of humor, and he’s on his own podcast, doing what he wants to do.

    Simmons, rightly or wrongly, is seen as an emissary of ESPN (and, by extension, I’d charge, Subway) in anything he does for public consumption. For that reason, he could be held responsible for anything he says, even in as tangentially related a conversation as this.

    Why does this rile you up enough to post two comments here?

    (Also, I thought the headline was clever, because Simmons’ comments were all made during discussion of bathrooms, but you’re obviously entitled to your opinion.)

  14. WTF

    Make that three comments.

    If you really thought it was funny, you laugh and move on. You didn’t… in fact you’re now amplifying your agenda by trying to stir up some imagined assault on homosexuals. If you’re really as cool and with it as you claim, then I’ll assume you’ve bogged many words assailing ESPN/Disney’s hypocritical censorship and holier-than-thou policies.

    BTW, it’s clear you’re not familiar with Carolla, probably only his “Man Show” reputation. The reality is he’s been one of the smartest, funniest voices in radio for about the last 15 years. Simmons and Carolla are longstanding friends because they respect each other’s considerable talents.

    I’ll say it one more time: It’s called comedy, you fucktard.

  15. heapoftears

    you are being an alarmist and drawing attention to something that does no good or has no value for Bill or his career. So I say CREEP! But as it might get some attention for the ACP, I am willing to cut you some slack, but very little.

  16. @all – Chill the fuck out. It’s a blog that actually reports on the podcast intelligently. If you’ve read Rock, he does report on Simmons smartly.

  17. I bet you’d all be surprised to find out WTF is actually Rick Reilly wouldn’t you?

  18. Is blue language when people talk about the color blue because if it is I don’t see the problem I didn’t read the news parts just the comments and then laughing happened LOL!

  19. WTF

    Just to be clear, my ironic use of the F-word was an attempt at comedy… don’t take it out of context ;-)

    Carolla’s podcast is #1 on Itunes, and it’s far better than his recently-discontinued FM show (due to the mother station flipping the talk format).

    Simmons is in a very similar situation. He’s better and funnier without corporate idiots interfering with him. He can thrive without the mothership, and will do better financially and creatively.

  20. pincheloco77

    Fuck you loser, this is the most traffic you will ever have on your site and everyone thinks your a douche bag

  21. SheBlindedMeWithLye

    @WTF.

    It’s cool, he used an emoticon.

  22. AdamP

    Great Job Uncle Dude.

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  24. Wow, for Simmons’ language on a podcast being such a big deal as some people are saying, people are really getting upset about a column on it.

    Anyway, while the podcast’s content is nothing to be offended by in my opinion, it still may cause problems for Simmons as, Rockabye said, he works for a company and has sponsors that may be sensitive to the material in that podcast. We’ve seen people getting reprimanded for language before; Martellus Bennett of the Dallas Cowboys was docked 22,000 for a rap video he made on YouTube that featured him using some foul language. Now if he is a free agent, or even just an aspiring rapper, it doesn’t make any headlines, but because he is employed by the Cowboys, thus representing the league, he was fined. Will Simmons get fired? I don’t think so, but it just the point of when working for a company what you say is going to be looked at because you are not your own boss and can be punished for things such as language, even if it isn’t directed at anyone.

  25. Jax

    I listened to the podcast twice. I didn’t hear any gay-bashing, unless acknowledging that they exist is considered bashing.

  26. Jax: I wrote “perceived gay-bashing.” I would tend to agree that this is on the lighter side of things, but in matters like these, all it takes is an overly sensitive listener to shoot an email to ESPN and it becomes as much.

    There’s a bunch of loose and juvenile talk in the movie pitches that sponsors could see as callous or “heteronormative” or what have you; it’s a very slippery slope in this respect.

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  28. Original:

    Wow, for Simmons’ language on a podcast being such a big deal as some people are saying, people are really getting upset about a column on it.

    I meant:

    Wow, for Simmons’ language on a podcast being *not* such a big deal as some people are saying, people are really getting upset about a column on it.

  29. Jax

    That was the point, you “perceived” some totally nonoffensive comment as “gay-bashing”, that’s all it takes for “an overly sensitive listener” (as if Carolla’s podcasts have any) to get a head of steam going and calling bigotry. You’re the one making the slope slippery.

  30. Ben

    u really should get over it. making fun of gays isn’t gay bashing

  31. Jax: there’s some dodgy stuff about “the Indians and the gays” cleaning up at the Oscars, a stereotypical association of gay actors with AIDS, and some silly “everyone plays the viola” feminization of gay men; “gay it up, fey it up” comes out of Carolla’s mouth. There’s also the quite obscene description of what “a gay test” would require for a prospective student.

    Perhaps that doesn’t frustrate you like it frustrates me, but hearing these two smart, funny, and open-minded individuals reduce homosexuality to caricature bugs me, and could certainly bug people with a financial stake in either’s career.

    I did not write this post because I think Simmons or Carolla need to be punished for anything they’ve said; I’ve tried to make that clear in the post and comments.

    I wrote it because Simmons being so free is a delight for sports fans and observers like myself who enjoy his podcasts and roll our eyes at his frequent chafing against ESPN’s censorship, and because I wanted to share it. I wrote about the possibility of repercussions because I didn’t want to just write a dry play-by-play.

    Certainly, Carolla’s typical audience doesn’t have too many overly sensitive listeners, and Simmons’ doesn’t have too many overly sensitive readers. But to ignore the possibility of even minimal backlash is to pretend that all of this will be universally accepted as the risque brand of funny rather than offensive.

  32. Further: Simmons talking about porn, and perhaps having a porn star on his podcast, was one of the big problems with his podcast last year. Talking about porn frankly with Carolla will rankle the same people again.

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  35. buzmeg

    Talk about potty mouths, has anyone seen The Swami (Chris Berman) spouting F-Bombs galore on YouTube?

    Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_BWBKF9I5Q

  36. Allen Driller

    i pronounce thee… UNCLE DUDE

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