Bill Simmons built something special with Grantland ... so much so that four of its "highly-regarded" employees have left the ESPN website that he founded to join the sports personality, presumably at HBO or in some other capacity.

Journalist James Andrew Miller broke the news over the weekend.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports severed ties with Simmons in May, a couple of months before it was widely reported that ESPN would be tightening its belt and making more layoffs and firings in the coming months.

The four Grantland staffers quitting probably has more to do with Simmons' overall clout and influence than ESPN's financial state, but it's a part of an exodus that many thought would happen following his exit. That goes for ESPN itself, too.

"We completely expected turnover which is not at all unusual in this space ..." ESPN wrote in a statement to Miller over the weekend. "Though we have re-signed seven @Grantland33 staffers in recent weeks. The site's traffic continues to soar."

Still, the shots Simmons took at ESPN in the debut of his The Bill Simmons Podcast earlier this month, combined with snagging four employees, could be the beginning of the Grantland founder waging war on his former employer.

Remember, it took Simmons just two months to get a new deal — with HBO — after he was fired by ESPN. With a new talk show on deck and Podcast already underway, Simmons has re-asserted his platform and voice on the national scene.

Now, let's see what he does with the opportunity.

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