You try to believe that there’s a plan in this world, that good prevails and evil is punished.
And then you come across the story of an innocent soul like Jay Mariotti. On fellow ESPN-firee Jason Whitlock’s podcast this week, Mariotti finally told the tale of how AOL Fanhouse unfairly ruined his career, by firing him and causing ESPN to follow suit. It turns out that it wasn’t because he was arrested for domestic abuse, eventually pleading no contest to a misdemeanor battery count.
I had just done a three-year contract. You can do the math. I did a settlement with them, but they saved a lot of money in that transition. If I had stayed there, I’d still be there. I’m assuming I’d be working for the Sporting News and they’d be paying me a hefty penny. Instead they did a settlement with me and the next thing you know, they’re cutting deals with the Sporting News.
It’s a crying shame to see such a good guy get screwed over by Machiavellian corporations, who are willing to blow a wee bit of domestic abuse out of proportion just to save a bit of money. But it’s not the first time Mariotti has gotten the shaft. Three years ago, all of Chicago rejoiced when Jay left the Chicago Sun-Times… no longer would we be exposed to his daily slandering of the city’s sports figures, laden with hokey insults and veiled racism. But it turns out that Jay’s tendency to spend every day spreading insults and innuendo, paying no attention to what he’d said in the past or actual facts, wasn’t his fault either.
When you’re thrown into the pot as a columnist in Chicago, you have to become ultracompetitive because you’re working against the monolithic Tribune across the street. You have been trained to be the underdog and you’re trying to keep this paper alive. I don’think I was quite the same columnist maybe in Denver. I had my strong opinions about people like (Broncos quarterback John) Elway when he would whine. But in general I think Chicago brought out the competitor in me and all of a sudden you feel the need to write and write and write and keep this thing afloat. My old editors there were (Rick) Jaffe (now Fox Sports Interactive Media’s senior vice president and editor-in-chief) … who was the same way, I think, (and) Bill Adee (who’s now Chicago Tribune Media Group’s vice president of digital development and operations). The people I worked with at the Sun-Times were, ‘Let’s kick their ass because they’re soft over there.’ At one point, one of (the Tribune’s) sports editors said, ‘I wish I had the Sun-Times people. I wish I had their fire.’ … If you say I wrote too much, guilty as charged. Guilty as charged because in that city you have to make impact because the other paper is larger. So yeah. Remember there are editors there going: ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. Give us a column. Give us a column.’ There’s a publisher there saying: ‘You sell papers, dude. You can write any time you want.’ So they’re enabling that mindset that I had.
Here’s hoping that this poor Job-like figure can finally find a place in the big, mean world where he’s sheltered against the forces that have preyed on the worse demons of his nature.