Dear ESPN: find Harris Wittels’ wrestling figures


Bill Simmons hosted Aziz Ansari on his podcast on May 11 ahead of Ansari’s second season of the masterful Master of None (more on that season soon). The entire 90 minutes is worth listening to and ranges from eating pasta in Italy, hosting Saturday Night Live, Kanye and Jay-Z, Dave Chappelle, and so much more. Around the 50 minute mark, Simmons brings up Harris Wittels – a former Grantland writer, who was also friends and coworkers with Ansari on Parks and Recreation as well as during the genesis of Master of None.

Wittels, famous for inventing the term humblebrag, passed away from a heroin overdose on July 28, 2015. The comedy world and his friends were shocked. You can hear how somber Ansari becomes while Simmons tells a story about the late comic. Ansari even jokes about how it’s weird when people get sad on a podcast and you can just hear the static.

Simmons tells Ansari how Wittels bequeath Grantland his wrestling figure collection as well as giving Simmons – a lifelong diehard Boston Red Sox fan – his personal baseball card collection.

The unfortunate news is that, while Simmons still has Wittels’ baseball cards, he has no clue what happened to the wrestling figures.

Here’s what Simmons had to say on the podcast episode with Ansari:

I think like two weeks [after he died] his brother-in-law emailed us and said that Harris had bequeathed all of his wrestling figures to Grantland. He gave us all of his wrestling figures. He also said… Harris wanted Bill to – you know do you want the baseball cards? And I’m like, yeah. So I have Harris’ baseball cards. The wrestling figures which we had at Grantland, I’m not sure because I got bounced.

Ever since Simmons was fired from ESPN in May 2015 after going on Dan Patrick’s radio show and lambasting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Simmons has never been a fan of Goodell and in 2014 was suspended by the Worldwide Leader in Sports for going off on the league’s mishandling of Ray Rice’s domestic abuse scandal.

You can read all about Simmons, the NFL commissioner who lacks testicular fortitude, and his ESPN ousting in depth at the Hollywood Reporter.

aziz and bill

The point is, knowing the lack of respect ESPN has for its writers and on-air talent, those wrestling figures probably have been lost forever because of the media company’s desire to distance itself from Simmons and Grantland.

I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit.

It would be safe to venture a guess that 90% of ESPN higher ups have no clue who Wittels was or that he was ever paid by the company. They do not know about his addiction and struggles with drugs or what those wrestling figures meant to him, his friends, his colleagues at Grantland, or Simmons himself.

Hopefully, they’re boxed up in an inconspicuous storage facility labeled “Grantland: do not touch” until they eventually do a 30 for 30 (a Simmons idea) about their own foray into a pop culture/sports website.

It’s sad to think that a squabble between a [failing] media giant and an outspoken writer has led to the disappearance of something so meaningful to an under recognized comic writer.

Please find Harris Wittels’ wrestling figures and return them to his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his fans. And ESPN, please don’t try to monetize this. Just do it quietly.


Get stoked for April’s Peak TV rush

April used to not have a lot going on for it, pop culturally speaking. It’s before the summer blockbuster month and it’s right near the tail end of the traditional network television cycle.

Thankfully, cable doesn’t care about the archaic calendar and realized April is the last month to premiere a show and air enough episodes that it would be eligible for September’s Emmys. Here’s a ranking of shows I’m stoked to be back from unbelievable excited to wickedly giddy. Continue reading “Get stoked for April’s Peak TV rush”

30 podcasts from 2016 you need to subscribe to

Podcasts are trendier than ever now. Which is a grand thing to say. There’s a lot out there – some top notch, some not so much – and trying to find the right one for you is tricky. Here are 30 I listen to that I suggest to a lot of people I meet. Most of them are the “mainstream” ones, because I haven’t done much of a deep dive. Chances are you’ve listened to most of these if you love podcasts, but if you haven’t listened to much, you should definitely check some out.

Continue reading “30 podcasts from 2016 you need to subscribe to”

25 shows from 2016 you need to watch

Whether it’s streaming, binging, or whatever, television shows are the best form of art right now. While everything at the megaplex is basically a superhero story, a young adult book adaption, or a remake, things on television are completely fresh. Here are 25 shows from this year you need to catch up on now. Spoiler alert: no Game of Thrones because I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t seen it. I do it to just infuriate my friends.

Continue reading “25 shows from 2016 you need to watch”

New shows to watch in October 2016

September brought a lot of new shows to watchAtlanta is the best series on television right now. This is Us might be the next great family drama that reduces us to tears every week. Luke Cage, premiering at the tail-end of the month with a review on this blog coming soon, was a nice way to cap off a terrific month of television.

What about October? Well, here are another 12 new shows premiering this month that might tickle your fancy. Some are highbrow, some are lowbrow. Some might even get canceled fairly quickly. But you should still check them out. Continue reading “New shows to watch in October 2016”

‘The Good Place,’ ‘Designated Survivor,’ ‘Pitch,’ ‘Speechless’ reviewed

Network television refuses to be left behind in the Peak TV world. These shows might not be complete Emmy bait, but they are four solid options to watch week after week with your loved ones. I’m glad we live in a world where we can choose between an absurd afterlife comedy or a Jack Ryan-worthy thriller plus we can watch a female play against the big boys of baseball and celebrate children with cerebral palsy. Check out my thoughts below.  Continue reading “‘The Good Place,’ ‘Designated Survivor,’ ‘Pitch,’ ‘Speechless’ reviewed”

‘This is Us’ proves cable dramas need explosive acting; not explosive CGI

Here is a confession that I should just get out of the way right now. I cried five minutes into NBC’s This is Us. Not a full fledged ugly cry. Just a little swelling of tears. I’m not sure what that says about me. That I’m not manly? That I appreciate cliched tropes? That this show is the new emotional pulse of broadcast television? Probably all three; but definitely the last.

Continue reading “‘This is Us’ proves cable dramas need explosive acting; not explosive CGI”