NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Bill Simmons, pop icon, patriarch of mailbags, an unrepentant homer for his New England Patriots and all things Boston, is leaving ESPN.
The story, first reported by The New York Times, marks both a sad and an terrifically joyous day for news reporters around the country as well as his millions of fans built up over the past nearly 20 years.
At ESPN, owned by Walt Disney (DIS), Simmons gained national exposure as The Sports Guy, writing for ESPN.com's off-site Page 2, before becoming an Internet celebrity before Internet celebrities even existed. The Sports Guy moniker was his own, created back in the 1990s when he wrote about sports from his apartment in Boston.
Like most things, Simmons's departure from ESPN is about money and control. It appears that ESPN has just decided it's better off without having Simmons and his cast of characters, including his dad, Adam Carolla, J-Bug and perhaps the entire editorial staff of Grantland (a site owned by ESPN where Simmons is editor-in-chief).
Better than most, Simmons defined the Internet age using humor, pop culture references, YouTube links, gifs and a variety of different ways to entertain his fans and legions of readers (including yours truly) for close to fifteen years now and he's still going strong.
As a journalist, I've taken a lot of cues from Simmons in both writing style as well as trying to appeal to a wide audience when writing. It's not as easy to do what he does with tech as it is sports, but I've tried.
When I've mentioned Simmons in mailbags or insinuated about him on Twitter, the response I get is phenomenal. There are few out there that can capture this kind of attention.
Hopefully, I've captured one-tenth of one percent of his unique style, as I continue to find my way in the world of online journalism.
Judging by the instant reaction on Twitter (TWTR), it's clear I'm not alone in this sentiment, as tweets about Simmons have almost instantaneously become one of the top trending items of the day.
Here are just a few examples:
Marissa Mayer has my full support to replace Katie Couric with Bill Simmons— Eric Jackson (@ericjackson) May 8, 2015
And for that, I have but one thing to say to you, Bill -- These are my readers.