Jay Mariotti spoke with Jason Whitlock for another 42 minutes today. I learned some things about Mariotti that I didn't know before. He started out as a regular sports columnist
for the Chicago Sun-Times in Cincinnati when he was just 25 years old, and in retrospect he can't believe that he had such a platform at that age, because "what does anyone know" at that age. I could relate to that. I learned that as a boy in Pittsburgh, he would walk to the corner store and buy the papers and read every sports section, and that he thinks that practice made him a better writer. I could relate to that, too. I learned that he considers Skip Bayless to be "dead-on" and to be the one guy who he'd "better read the paper" for in the morning, "'cause he's pretty good." I couldn't really relate to that.
But then, toward the end of this epic interview — the first stop on what is sure to be a long road to redemption — Mariotti started talking about this site, and about how it differed from the sports writing and reporting that he holds dear. The writing he read as a boy in Pittsburgh, I guess. And in listening to this, I think I learned something else about Mariotti: women are not a factor in what he holds dear. In August, we know, Mariotti got into a domestic dispute with his then-girlfriend and was charged with two counts of domestic violence with injury, two counts of domestic violence, one count of grand theft, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of vandalism. All charges but for one misdemeanor count were eventually dropped, of course, and Mariotti ended up pleading no contest. But I will never listen to or read Mariotti again without the lurking suspicion that he hit a woman and got away with it, and so when Whitlock asked him today about what frustrated him so about Deadspin content, I learned something else about Mariotti's view of sportswriting, and of women's place in it:
I'm not looking for guys in hot tubs. I don't care about guys in hot tubs unless it is affecting their performance and unless it affects the fan who is paying all this money and devoting all this heart and soul and energy into their sports team. That's when I start weighing in. But if it's a guy harmlessly having some fun — I just cannot, that's not gonna be the crux of what I do. That's the crux of what they do.
Right before this outburst, Whitlock had referenced a handful of Deadspin posts, among them the Favre story. Mariotti grudgingly allowed that the Favre story is newsworthy — because "the commissioner [felt] he had to investigate about a legendary quarterback" — but it's clear he had otherwise filed it under Guy Harmlessly Having Some Fun. Like, in a hot tub, for example. In Mariotti's view, it's OK for him to go after someone like Ozzie Guillen because he's "telling a pitcher to throw at a hitter," but a man's "harmless fun" is hallowed ground. It's so telling that he saw the Favre story through the lens of power and celebrity ("the commissioner ... a legendary quarterback") and not through the eyes of, say, the four female contract employees of NFL teams who'd received unwanted advances from that celebrity. Yesterday, Mariotti said over and over that the incident with his girlfriend and its aftermath had changed him, that he'd now think more deeply about criticizing others. He'd learned so much about victims, after all. Not women, of course, but hounded celebrities like himself.
Real Talk With Jason Whitlock [Fox Sports Radio]