Jay Mariotti Breaks His Silence With Jason Whitlock

By Marcus Vanderberg Comment

After six months, Jay Mariotti finally broke his silence on Real Talk with Jason Whitlock.

The former AOL columnist and Around the Horn panelist spoke candidly on his personal troubles that halted his professional career.

On his critics taking great joy of his fall:

“As a critic, you’re never going to hear me complain about critics. As you pointed out a couple minutes ago, nobody really understands. What troubles me about some members of the media, my critics, is look at the bottom line. Go back and see our statements on this. Did anybody really look at my attorney’s statements after the fact? Were they rooting for the absolute worst?

What people don’t understand about the plea is it was a low-level misdemeanor. At first, this thing was advertised as a felony. It was never at that level. It was never accepted by the District Attorney. I don’t think people Jason … they wanted to see the initial headline and they aren’t going to necessary follow the ends and outs of the case. The fact of the matter is here I am. I’ve been living my life.”

On why he took a plea bargain:

“The only reason there was a plea bargain is because AOL at the time said that you’re coming back to work. You’re going to come back to work. Keep this out of a courtroom. We don’t want any trial. It’s now on a misdemeanor level. Go right ahead and plea and you will have your job back and you’ll be ready to go. Little did I know at the time, AOL behind-the-scenes was plotting with Arianna Huffington, was plotting with The Sporting News, and the next thing you know, they’re suggesting a settlement. If I had known what I know now about their business relationships at the time … the fact that they were cutting deals and they were going to eliminate the position of many sports writers, I would have probably gone on to court because I would have wanted to protect my name in its entirety.”

“Instead, I accepted a plea on what my boss at AOL was telling me and in the end, it turns out his bosses were plotting to get rid of the entire sports structure at AOL.”

On how The Sporting News merger had an impact on his job:

What was explained to me by Scott Ridge, my boss, and his boss, Kevin Lockland, was that chances are you’re going to be back here. As time went on in the process, after I was told to go ahead and plea, my attorney spoke with Scott about it. We came to the conclusion of let’s do it. Ridge is believable. Scott’s a great guy. He has bosses though that did not let anyone at the time know what was in the works for AOL and The Sporting News. Nobody knew at the time and I’ve since been told by people behind the scenes that indeed at the time, those talks were taking place.

On his departure from ESPN:

“I think ESPN, because the perception that AOL had to take action against Mariotti, I think they had to take the same. What are they going to do, turn around and go, ‘Come on our air even though they did this?’ AOL, Jason, never made a statement that set we are letting him go because of this episode. What they told me is basically, ‘Look, there’s a clause in your contract where we can part ways without cause and we’re going to do that.’ So there was never an explanation given to why. They didn’t tell me ‘Jay, this thing is too messy for us. We’re going to let you go.’ That never, ever came up and until I got a phone call on a Friday, it was my believe that after a plea on a Thursday, that we were going to be back at AOL.”

On what happened the night he was arrested:

“As we had pointed out in our statements, there was an argument that night. It was a lengthy argument. So many of the original charges in this, if you were watching closely, were thrown out. There’s a reason why charges are thrown out.”

“I wish I had gone home. You’ve got to be careful. I learned a lot from that night. In 27 years of marriage, I never had a problem. In subsequent relationships, I never had a problem. I never had a police record. I was a clean living guy. A family guy with two great daughters. How I was described that night is not me. But sometimes you get caught up in a system, in which you feel like a yo-yo, and in the end, you have to make a decision. I would have liked to seen, and so would have my attorney, how this would have gone in a court of law. But you also know what kind of media circus it would have been. I was blown away that TMZ was coming to my court appearances. It was to the point where I was told don’t show up. TMZ? Is it really that big? I was a little surprised by that.”