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Judges Spotlight October 29, 2014

5 Things You Should Know About Bill Simmons

You know him as a famed American sports columnist, author, and podcaster. But this year, Grantland's Bill Simmons also became a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). That means he'll be one of several new luminaries judging The 20th Annual Webby Awards. Here are 5 things you should know about his incredible career.

5 Things You Should Know About Bill Simmons

You know him as a famed American sports columnist, author, and podcaster. But this year, Grantland's Bill Simmons also became a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). That means he'll be one of several new luminaries judging The 20th Annual Webby Awards. Here are 5 things you should know about his incredible career.

1. He found his humble start on the Internet in '97

Once upon a time, Bill Simmons was a broke bartender in his beloved Boston, trying to find more work as a sportswriter as he approached the completion of his graduate degree in journalism. AOL’s “Digital City Boston” hosted his Website, bostonsportsguy.com. In his words, it was adorably early-Internet: “I would have done this sooner if I knew how simple the technology is today. Back in the days of the BSG site, I had to add every single HTML tag myself before posting whatever I wrote. Crazy.”

2. Soon enough, he was the most read sportswriter in America

The site grew quickly, both through AOL and word-of-mouth. By 2001, he was hired by ESPN to write guest features. His first column was immediately the site’s most popular piece that day, and he soon not only became ESPN.com’s most popular writer, but the most-read sportswriter in the US.

3. His podcast theme is by YouTube savant Ronald Jenkees

One of Simmons’s most popular outlets is his podcast, The B.S. Report, which opens with intense electronic music and the voice of a hokey-sounding guy introducing Simmons. This is Ronald Jenkees, the renowned, reclusive synth music savant from YouTube. He composed a track called “Derty” for the podcast in 2007, and it has opened the show ever since. (Bonus fact: The B.S. Report has hosted luminaries from Nate Silver to Barack Obama.)

4. He started Grantland, ESPN's longform site

Grantland is Simmons’s treehouse of sports fandom that hosts exhaustive, in-depth features, word-of-mouth retrospectives, savvy pop culture podcasts, and a full video network on YouTube. The name is an homage to the seminal sportswriter Grantland Rice, pictured above.

5. He tried to use Twitter to become an NBA general manager

Simmons, a fountain of sports opinions (usually involving Boston), decided in 2009 that it was time to put them to practical use. So he hopped on Twitter and lobbied to become the Minnesota Timberwolves’ GM. He even racked-up high-profile endorsements from the likes of Malcolm Gladwell. And though he didn’t get the gig, he still hasn’t let the issue drop.

Want to watch what happened at the 20th Annual Webby Awards? Watch the show on WebbyAwards.com and all the highlights now!

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