Bill Simmons vs. Keith Olbermann: The War of Words

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Earlier this week, Bill Simmons (aka "The Sports Guy") penned an online column, which argued the following thesis:

The eventual comeback by Tiger Woods on the golf course will be more difficult than the in-ring return of Muhammad Ali, following his hiatus from boxing that stemmed from avoiding the Vietnam War draft.

It's a controversial stance, one meant to elicit opinions and one defended by nine well-reasoned points.

So, how did MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann react? By immaturely taking to his blog and writing:

If the writer can let me know when Woods is punitively drafted by the military even though he is about eight years older than almost all the other draftees, I’ll begin to take him seriously. In the interim I am again left to marvel how somebody can rise to a fairly prominent media position with no discernible insight or talent, save for an apparent ability to mix up a vast bowl of word salad very quickly.

Simmons then Tweeted in response: KO, please know the feeling is mutual. You’re my worst case scenario for my career in 12 yrs: a pious, unlikable blowhard who lives alone.

We love any war of words between two outspoken individuals, but must side with Simmons in this case.

First, Mr. Olbermann, as long-time readers of The Sports Guy, we can tell you how he rose to his position as the top columnist at

By earning a Master's in Journalism from Boston University; slogging away for years as a bartender while creating/building his own website; and being discovered by ESPN after he earned a loyal online following.

Some journalists may look down on Simmons because he represents the age of new media, in which a writer can thrive on the Internet without ever speaking to an athlete or going inside a locker room for his columns. But such a niche still requires wit, knowledge and hard work.

The guy recently wrote a 700-page book on the history of basketball that was number-one on The New York Times Bestsellers List.

Moreover, Olbermann has risen to his level of notoriety due to a similar recent phenomenon: the opinionated, 24/7 news cycle.

Finally, go ahead and disagree with Simmons' take on Woods vs. Ali. But do it in a respectful manner. A few days ago, Simmons took part in a Podcast with fellow ESPN columnist Rick Reilly because the pair has contrasting opinions on the Tiger Woods press conference.

Simmons isn't afraid to mix it up - professionally, respectfully - with those that don't share his points of view. But Olbermann was clearly using this Woods' column as an excuse to bitterly rail against The Sports Guy's overall success. That's just petty.

Choose a side in this feud:


Please Simmons is a another bigoted,whiny,self-righteous pissant who is jealous as hell or he's trying to get even with the jocks who picked on his nerdy ass years ago. If you can't take it don't dish it out Olbermann while he isn't a favorite of mine either has EVERY right to talk crap about a a-hole who makes a living talking crap about people. You reap what you sow jerk!!


IW, Jason Whitlock explains where Pierce's hatred of Simmons started here: A quote from the article
"Two weeks ago on Deadspin, Pierce trashed Bill Simmons and his New York Times-bestselling book. In that hit piece, Pierce failed to mention that he tried to befriend and mentor Simmons at the beginning of the decade and that in 2002 Simmons told Pierce to go (expletive) himself. That little nugget of information would've been very enlightening when reading Pierce's Deadspin take." Why would Simmons care to respond to a jealous no-name hack who is just mad he didn't get to ride the Sports Guy's coattails all these years?


Can anyone else see K.O.'s vaguely obtuse anti-draft,liberal "I want attention", so rant the anti-military/war(on terrorism) whine? Who gives a rat's a** what K.O. thinks or expresses. K.O. rants from the same playbook as Bill Maher. I only care to comment because as a veteran, during the "cold war", which was a "hot war" for me, I despise the abuse of free speech,I too often hear from those who ran to Canada or never offered to serve their country, but have the "arrogant self-importance expertise" to tear down from the sideline benches, with risking more than running out of breath impressing themselves.


@The Sneaker: Did you even read our post? How much of it is dedicated to the content of Simmons' article? We're focusing on Olbermann's childish response to it. How utterly unclassy of us to suggest that someone simply disagrees in a respectful, professional manner.


Obviously, I must be in the minority because the premise of Bill Simmons' article is absolutely ridiculous. The need of this website to homer for Simmons is sad. Boo hoo someone made fun of our guy, so we have to villify him on our site. Stay classy Hollywood Stay classy.


There's also a third possibility: that Keith is a self-important asshat who sees himself as the keeper of Edward R Murrow's legacy. I don't quite see what Mr Olbermann is mad at here - I guess he really really doesn't like the Ali-Woods comparison. Fair enough, but it's not like KO didn't rise to national prominence for his pithy comments while ketchup was beating mustard during the 7th inning stretch.


@SF: Don't make the same mistake Olbermann made: Simmons makes it VERY clear in his column to delineate the difference between the REASONS why Ali and Woods were away from their sports. In no way is he comparing the two.
Instead, he's comparing their comebacks. It's a monumental difference, one Olbermann completely ignores in order to insult the writer of the article - and THAT'S the issue here: disagree with Simmons' content all you want to. But it's petty and unprofessional to attack the writer, as Olbermann continues to do, just because he's jealous of Simmons' success. You want hate the niche the Sports Guy has created? Go ahead.
But he is the most read columnist on the Internet. It's not even close. If you don't like him, just don't read him.


Prior to this clash I had some respect for KO, but his choice to attack the writer of the article and not the content smacks of a larger agenda at work here. If his only goal was to show the fallacy of the argument I have no doubt he would have picked it apart based on the argument's merits (no doubt throwing in a few barbs at the author). The fact he chose a personal attack on Simmons (and then went on to explain that Simmons is an "embarrassment" to his ESPN bosses in a subsequent post) clearly shows that he has either a beef with Simmons the person, or something to gain from attacking him. To clothe those attacks as a counter to the Simmons article is a pretty low way to attack another member of the profession. Its NOT about the "right" or "wrong" of the original article, or whether you think it a valid argument to even bring up. It IS about KO making personal attacks against "The Sports Guy" in a way that makes KO appear petty and bitter.


KO responds to the Sports Idiot ... http://keitholbermann.mlblogs.... Say what you will about Olbermann, he's got plenty of flaws. But Simmons' comparison of Tiger to Ali was stupid and shows a genuine lack of historical knowledge. Stick to hitting F5 for "Sweep the leg!!!" Bill. Let the adults discuss things that happened prior to MTV.


@IW: First, Pierce ends his book review with:
"Somewhere in these pages is a real book, and somewhere in that book is a very real heart and a very redeemable soul, and that just may be worth the digging..."
He's critical of Simmons' ego and of his self-aggrandizing style, both legitimate critiques. It's also a long, laid-out book review, written by an established author - and it includes numerous references that Simmons is actually a very good writer.
Olbermann, conversely, does not possess a resume any different from Simmons; and wrote his one-line bashing in a non-specific, bitter, unprofessional style on a blog. My reaction to Olbermann would have been very different if he actually read Simmons' book and then put time/thought into his critique.

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