Even before Clay Travis’ new site came online this summer, 2011 already had seen the unveiling of an even bigger sports blog. The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, brought his ESPN Page 2 act above board and began directing an ESPN.com side project called Grantland, named for Vanderbilt University graduate and early 1900s sportswriter Grantland Rice.
In May, the New York Times declared Simmons “the most prominent sportswriter in America.” I remember being pretty surprised to read those words, and then thinking, well, maybe that’s right. Sports Illustrated Rick Reilly would’ve had something to say about that a few years ago. Mitch Albom probably is part of a generation being supplanted– or at least his hair is. Simmons had seized the internet and the kids’ attention thereby. He had a popular web column and podcast, and a bestselling book. The NYT declaration probably was correct, but it was strange to read it in print for the first time.
Grantland would find Simmons in a new role, or more accurately, an additional role. ESPN wanted him to keep up with his podcast and column, migrating that content to the new site. In addition, he was to serve as editor in chief.