This could be his big break…
Word that former Kansas City Star sports scribe Jason Whitlock will be riding herd over his own ESPN sports blog with the stated mission of developing and bringing along new, younger voices (writers) poses a two huge questions.
Could this be Whitlock’s long awaited ticket to a healthy six-figure paycheck? And can he handle the role of being a mentor to up-and-coming, young, African American sportswriter wannabes?
“Pretty bizarre to set Jason up as mentor/role model, unless he’s matured some,” said one former Whitlock editor.
After all, his explosive and unpredictable personality aside, Whitlock didn’t exactly set any standards for being level headed during his time in KC. Quite the opposite.
However – wonder of wonders – I stumbled onto Whitlock’s appearance on fellow new ESPN hire Keith Olbermann‘s new show on ESPN2 show last night.
Whitlock’s mission; to discuss the media treatment of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and the team’s quarterback situation. And at the end of the segment, Olbermann noted that Whitlock was his new show’s very first guest.
That’s definitely a huge step up from blogging in the shadows at Fox.
The $64 million question being, is this an indicator that ESPN has bigger things in store for the big guy? We’ll see.
Meanwhile, a few impressions from my viewing of the show.
Starting with the fact that Whitlock seemed very tentative and reserved and didn’t really bring it like the Jason of old. Far from it.
“Most of the things that have been written about me, a lot of it has been not true,” Whitlock offered – as a minor condemnation of print sportswriters getting stuff wrong – which Olbermann had strongly insinuated where the Jets quarterback controversy was concerned.
Then there’s the matter of Whitlock’s appearance.
I don’t want to join that crowd (if I’m not already in it) of writers who’ve gotten Jason wrong, but the two physical impressions that jumped out to me were as follows:
First, he seemed far older and less brash and young Jason-like than I remember him from three years ago and before. And second – whoa, baby! – when the camera panned back and to the side he looked as big as a house.
Whitlock may not have been making bank these past three years but he’s clearly been eating well. Too well. And now that he’s starting to get older, he needs to rein it in if he wants to be around long enough to mentor all those future Jason Whitlock’s.
Lucky he was sitting down, I don’t know how well Whitlock would have fared if he had to try and stand the entire time. Maybe it was the television camera, but I don’t think so. I’m thinking 300 pounds or maybe more – maybe a lot more.
My advice; now that he’s probably getting a better paycheck, Jason needs to break up with Ollie Gates and hit the veggies. Happens to us all, but, whoa, when it comes to decent health, size matters.
Then there’s the matter of what passes for Whitlock’s “fashion sense” or as Craig Glazer recently put it, “his chunky monkey” wardrobe.
Check out what Larry Brown of Larry Brown Sports.com wrote:
“Whitlock captured more attention for what he was wearing than anything he was saying. He had on what appeared to be a denim jacket that had a matching beige collar and elbow pads. And if the jacket wasn’t enough of a statement to tell you that Whitlock is bringing back old school fashion, his small hoop earring certainly was.
“Come on, Whitlock, don’t you know that taking fashion tips from Michael Jordan is always a bad idea?”