In a tough economic market, you'll find many sports writers scaling back on their criticism for the sake of job security. Trying to garner attention through traditional shit-stirring isn't the best way to keep your self afloat right now — piss off the wrong source or anger enough readers and you may find yourself expendable. Chicago Sun-Times columnist and Mariotti-foil Rick Telander penned a column today about the WWL's acquisition of the BCS bowl games, but then veered into a somewhat dangerous territory of half-heartedly criticizing ESPN's steamrolling empire. He suggests the corporation has its tentacles around so many sportswriter's necks that there isn't anyone left to bitch about them besides the person they pay to do it, staff ombudsman Leanne Schreiber. Oh, and, so he says, "renegade bloggers", of course. Telander also mentions that he's worked for ESPN in the past and still pops up on "Rome Is Burning" every once in a while. So he doesn't exactly go after the network with knives out. No, instead he goes to the best source for truth (and bowel movement Facebook updates), Jason Whitlock:
''It's like if every political writer in the country was working for just the Obama campaign,'' former ESPN writer and commentator Jason Whitlock, now with Foxsports.com and the Kansas City Star, said when I asked him about the conundrum. Whitlock was basically fired from ESPN awhile back for being too critical of certain company aspects and individuals. ''I think ESPN is now more of an organization that needs to be covered, rather than one that covers organizations,'' Whitlock said.
Whether this little essay will have any long-term impact on Telander's ability to work for ESPN in the future has yet to be seen. ESPN is "looking into the essay" to see for sure, but I'd say for now that he will be allowed to sit on Jim Rome's couch in the near future. I will update when they make their final decision... UPDATE: ESPN says "no issues". Telander is still allowed on Jim Rome's couch. The ESPN Empire is Always Right [Chicago Sun-Times] Interview with Rick Telander [The Heckler] PHOTO: The Heckler