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Bill Simmons Discusses ESPN, DeflateGate, Patriots-Colts On Toucher & Rich

BOSTON (CBS) -- 98.5 The Sports Hub listeners had a nice treat on Thursday morning, as Bill Simmons joined Toucher & Rich for a full hour to discuss a number of different topics.

The Massachusetts native and famously avid Boston sports fan discussed how he got his start in sports writing, his messy departure from ESPN and his future with HBO. Simmons also didn't hold back on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and ESPN regarding their roles in the DeflateGate mess, and has a few thoughts to share on this weekend's upcoming Patriots-Colts matchup in Indianapolis.

Here are some of the highlights:

His Time At ESPN:

"I was there 14 ½ years and in 2008 I thought I was going to get fired. We were battling on a bunch of stuff behind the scenes; they were messing with my column and they cancelled my podcast with Obama," said Simmons. "I was devastated.

"They re-signed me in 2007 and the ink wasn't dry before they went out and overpaid Rick Reilly, who just didn't care. In December 2008 I had a meeting with the two guys running that side of ESPN, and I thought I was going to come out of that without a job," he continued.

"Things were really good from 2009-13; Doing NBA Countdown and some of the stuff with Grantland. Behind the scenes pushed things in the wrong direction. I was there 14 ½ and did some great stuff; the over/under I should have been there was probably five years."

The Way The NFL Handled DeflateGate:

"The Stephen A. Smith thing (breaking the news that Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone) was transparent because it was obvious Troy Vincent [leaked that information to him]. The way the NFL handled it each time, which is smart if you're devious, was if you get your story out first people will buy that version. The same thing happened to me in May; ESPN got their version out first and I wasn't able to say anything. The way the NFL handled it was just bizarre, and it had to be the other owners badgering Goodell for eight years, that Kraft had him in his pocket and he was Kraft's puppet," he said. "I really think that's how it played out and he just snapped.

"It was a comedy of errors. I feel like this is a sports documentary in the next 20 years. How the NFL handled it was insane, just absolutely insane."

On DeflateGate firing up Patriots' fans: "It's the perfect Boston sports story," said Simmons. "It's the ultimate 'Us vs. Everyone Else' city. This is the city that kicked out the British in the 1770's and that's the mentality that is still here. When I moved to L.A. I can't tell you how many people asking why I wouldn't move back. That's what's great about Boston, people believe it's the best city in the world.

"When you look at Brady, the Olympic bid, it's all based out of the same seed: Don't come in and mess with us. That's why I love it," he continued. "Goodell trying to mess with the Super Bowl season, you couldn't have picked a worse city. That's Boston, that's why you love it."

On Sunday's upcoming Patriots-Colts game:

"It's all leading to the 90-10 beat down they're going to give to Indianapolis this weekend. It's just a culmination of all the frustrations we've had this year, when they're throwing 58-yard bombs with two minutes left in the game up 70. I can't wait."

Comparing Rob Gronkowski to Pedro Martinez: 

"Gronk reminds me a lot of.. I'm still mad at myself because I don't think I appreciated Pedro [Martinez]. Other than [Larry] Bird – I was a kid for Bobby Orr and never saw Ted Williams – the Pedro three-year run was just amazing. I would go scalp tickets even when I didn't have money because I needed to see this. When he got hurt I was mad because I didn't go see very start.

"With Gronkowski, other than Brady, this guy is the greatest Patriot or all time. Other than the quarterbacks, he's the most valuable player in the league. He swings every game, and I'm making a point to appreciate every Gronk game."


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