Hey, everyone, did you know SF Weekly has a new editor? Did you know they have a new sports columnist? Did you know they had a sports section? Did you know SF Weekly still existed? Well, they do. Their new editor has made a definitive statement about how his paper will be run. And it's a doozy.
That new editor is Mark Segal Kemp. He has hired Jay Mariotti to be the new face of their sports column.
For those unfamiliar with Mariotti, he used to write for AOL Fanhouse and made loud noises on ESPN programs such as Around the Horn. That was until he beat up his girlfriend and plead no contest to domestic violence charges. That's when both AOL and ESPN parted ways with him.
It has been a couple of years since all of this went down. In the meantime, Mariotti wrote an ebook called The System to tell ‘his side of the story'. But outside of that he has been keeping somewhat of a low profile. Though he made sure to keep everyone updated now and then that he was living in a $2 million LA beach house and could work whenever he wanted.
That time is apparently now.
Segal Kemp introduced Mariotti in a column he wrote Thursday is an astoundingly self-serving and aggrandizing piece - which begins with "I've told this story before, so stop me if you've heard it" (I bet you have) -- about how he used to work at Rolling Stone Magazine back in the 90s as a means to name drop Hunter S Thompson and then directly compare his work with that of Jay Mariotti.
Seriously, he did that.
For those unfamiliar with Hunter S Thompson, he was considered one of the great writers and journalists of our time. He was also an intriguing figure who famously wrote of his Vegas benders in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" -- among several other great works.
He was also a Raiders fan.
Thompson once wrote, "The massive Raider Nation is beyond doubt the sleaziest and rudest and most sinister mob of thugs and wackos ever assembled." A statement only a Raider fan could take as a compliment. And that's how it was meant.
Back to Segal Kemp and Mariotti - two men who have absolutely nothing in common with Hunter S Thompson.
Segal Kemp likes to use the word "gonzo". That's where he makes this flimsy connection to Thompson and the hiring of Mariotti. "Gonzo" is a word Thompson liked to use to describe his own journalistic style. Segal Kemp qualifies the Mariotti hiring as a means of taking SF Weekly and SF Examiner in a new direction -- aka "gonzo".
Here are some excerpts from his SF Weekly piece:
Gonzo was important. It could validate your worldview; make you wanna holler, throw up both your hands; make you squirm, shudder, be totally and completely outraged. All in one article. Maybe even in one paragraph or sentence.
I told the story about Thompson not because we plan to return to some old ideas about gonzo journalism, but because we're going to try to dust off the spirit of gonzo now and then and do things that haven't been done in a while — maybe never. Because if there was one thing about gonzo journalism in its prime, it's that it was never boring. Thompson was a mess, but he was never dull.
Which leads me to the guy on the cover of this issue: sports writer Jay Mariotti. He's a friggin' lightning rod, hated by some, loved by others. He's become a pariah in some quarters, and a cause célèbre to those who think he's been treated unfairly.
Beginning this week, Mariotti will be bringing his own special kind of sports gonzo to SF Weekly occasionally, and to our sister publication, the Examiner, more than occasionally.
We think you're going to read him, whether you like him or not.
In my experience with Raiders fans, there may be a bit of truth to the idea that they will read such things whether they like it or not. Sometimes it seems Raiders fans are even drawn to the negative to justify their belief that the Raiders are hated by the media.
I don't see that being the case here.
They say the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Therefore, you have to earn the hatred of Raiders fans. You have to occasionally be someone that makes them think by saying something of value before they will bother to waste their energy despising you.
Comparing Jay F—king Mariotti to Hunter S Thompson doesn't make anyone think. It makes everyone dismiss you before you have said a single word.
Segal Kemp hadn't even gotten to the good stuff yet. I have no words to describe what this is:
Here's the deal: Of course we know about Mariotti's troubled legal history. We know he was accused of domestic violence and that he pleaded "no contest" and got probation for it. But we didn't bring Mariotti here to write about domestic violence. We brought him here to write about sports. And he's a terrific sports writer.
I have no idea what happened between Mariotti and his former girlfriend, and neither do you, unless you are him or her. No web story has given me any more insight on what happened than what court documents already say (although lots of stories have given me great insight on the writers of the stories). It's no secret that in the digital age we try and convict people online and not in the legal system. Mariotti says he's not guilty. He'll tell you why.
No, SERIOUSLY, he said that.
Ah, yes. the "you don't know me" defense. It works so well on Jerry Springer, so clearly: Fail proof.
You don't have to watch The Shawshank Redemption to know that most people convicted of crimes either flat out deny it or think they were justified in their actions and are therefore not guilty.
This seems not unlike the Greg Hardy situation. Hardy was convicted of domestic violence last July. He appealed the ruling and when it was set to go to trial once again, his former girlfriend was uncooperative -- which usually means she was paid to go away - and the case was dismissed (same thing happened with Rolando McClain).
Hardy's conviction was plenty to have him placed on the Commissioner's Exempt list for all but the opening game of last season.
He was a free agent this offseason and most NFL teams were staying well away from him. Then the Raiders name came up in connection with him and within a few hours of the report, Mark Davis made it very clear the Raiders were in no way interested in signing Hardy.
Davis has long made a strong and very public stance against anyone who commits an act of domestic violence. And the Raiders work closely with the Biletnikoff Foundation which was started by Raiders Hall of Fame wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff in honor of his daughter Tracey who was murdered in an act of domestic violence at the hands of her boyfriend.
The mission of the Biletnikoff foundation is as follows:
"To Commemorate Tracey's Life And Her Untimely Death And To Enable Young People To Realize Their Full Potential Through The Support Of Community And Education Programs That Effectively Address The Related Problems Of Substance Abuse And Gender Violence."
Mark Davis doesn't want players on his team who beat up women, do you think he wants one hanging around and perhaps trying to lend his supposedly "maverick voice" to Raiders coverage? That's not for me to answer. But Fred Biletnikoff can often be seen around Raiders headquarters and at games. That could get a bit awkward.
There is nothing that isn't awkward and slimy about what Mark Segal Kemp said in his stroke piece about Mariotti. A piece he sends home with a string of words that should make your stomach turn.
Is it bold to bring Mariotti to this company because he was accused of some shitty crimes? No, that's not what's bold about it. . . What's bold is that, in spite of this, we decided to bring to the Bay Area's sports scene an excellent writer with a voice that's singular in ways not unlike maverick voices from the past, such as Hunter S. Thompson's.
Then he asks you to read Mariotti's first story (I won't be linking to that story here, sorry), saying "Tell us what you think. Fire away. Seriously. We can take it. We'll likely be lobbing more lightning bolts your way."
Which leaves you feeling like you played right into his bony hands just by reading it, let alone covering it as I did here.
I need a shower.