ESPN announced in September that they were going to suspend the publication of the popular sports and pop culture blog Grantland, effective immediately.

“After careful consideration, we have decided to direct our time and energy going forward to projects that we believe will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise,” ESPN said in a statement.

Since 2011, Grantland provided stellar journalism for those who craved more than just a game recap. The editor-in-chief, Bill Simmons, was an established writer and sports journalist prior to Grantland, but Simmons put his heart and soul into Grantland. This amount of passion caused trouble for Simmons and his blog.

Simmons already had a rap for being very opinionated, but on September 24, 2014, ESPN suspended Simmons for three weeks because of comments he made on his Grantland podcast.

Simmons accused Roger Goodell of lying about not seeing the tapes of Ray Rice’s domestic violence case. Security footage showed Rice dragging his already unconscious girlfriend into an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Goodell stated that the NFL had no knowledge of the situation and had not seen the tape. Simmons wasn’t buying it.

ESPN, however, didn’t feel the same way Simmons did due to the strong ties they had with the NFL.

Since making the comment, Simmons has said he regrets making the comments because of the ramifications they had on his peers.

“I stand by everything I said about [Goodell]. I thought he was lying. It was borne out to correct: The guy did lie,” Simmons said. “The mistake I made, and the thing I feel really badly about is that I had all these people counting on me. If I’m going to push the envelope like I did … you gotta know where the line is, because the last thing I want to do is put all of those people in a bad spot … We should’ve [asked ourselves], ‘Hey, is [publishing these comments] worth it?’”

As irresponsible as the decision may have been, Simmons wouldn’t have faced the repercussions he did if it weren’t for ESPN’s allegiance to the NFL. This is just one example of how limited mainstream sports journalists are when writing pieces.

The amount of corruption in something like the NFL’s handling of domestic violence disputes should be talked about, but can’t be talked about because of the risk of losing a profitable partner.

Since Rice’s dispute, Goodell has sworn harsher punishments on domestic violence cases.

The NFL initially “handled” the Rice case by suspending him for the first two games of the 2014 season.

Multiple domestic violence disputes in the NFL have been handled in a similar way, the latest example being Greg Hardy’s suspension. On May 13, 2014, Hardy was arrested after allegedly assaulting and threating his girlfriend’s life. Hardy was also accused of throwing his girlfriend into furniture and threatening her life.

Hardy was suspended 10 games originally, but in July 2015 the suspension was reduced to four games.

Then just earlier this month, it was announced that the charges against Hardy were expunged from his record. Pictures of the injuries Hardy’s girlfriend received were released that showed multiple bruises on her back and hand prints on her neck from being choked.

I guess four games and an expunged record was the new domestic violence policy Goodell was speaking of.

Was it so wrong of Simmons to speak his mind? After all, this is the stuff journalists should be talking about, right?

After Simmons suspension, the termination of Grantland was imminent. Simmons and his staff writers found out about his suspension through Twitter. Finally, on Sept. 30, ESPN announced their plans to terminate Grantland.

Simmons blamed ESPN’s lack of support for the downfall of the site.

“There were 20 F-Us,” he said. “They knew I was not coming back. He’s not coming back and we have to position this that when it all hits a head, we can blame Grantland, [the site] did not get enough traffic, he was difficult, and all the s—, that wasn’t true. Part of the reason we didn’t get traffic was that they didn’t promote the site. I remember the first week of May I sent an email to all the higher-ups. I said, ‘You guys realize you only led ESPN.com with Grantland once in April? Literally once. Do you care or not?’ We have no mobile presence at all, we don’t have an app, 46% of our traffic is coming through our main page which is absurd for a website. We are getting no help from other parts of the company. People seem to think ESPN was so helpful for us, and it was actually the opposite. Anyone else would have been helpful. And we had great writers. That’s what killed me.”

The decision was unpopular with sports fans and sports journalists alike.

Seth Meyers took to twitter, saying “.@Grantland33 introduced me to many great writers. Very sorry to see it go.”

ESPN LA radio host John Ireland also expressed his distaste for the decision through Twitter, tweeting, “I’m biased, maybe because they worked right across the hall from me, but I’m going to miss Grantland tremendously. Read it every day.”

Simmons reached a deal with HBO that will allow him to be more vocal when it comes to discussing subjects the same way John Oliver has since leaving Comedy Central, but it’s unfortunate that people will have to go out of their way to get real sports journalism.

Grantland offered a place for people who didn’t want the watered down sports journalism that so many sites already offered. Grantland was unique in its nature and it’s disappointing to see the site and so many talented writers go.

The same way ESPN pledges their allegiance to the NFL, I pledge mine to Grantland.

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