It has been nine years since Jay Mariotti was a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and more than half a decade since he appeared regularly on ESPN’s Around the Horn, but he’s still hanging around the fringe of public consciousness, clawing for attention where he can get it.

Late Monday night, Mariotti, who now hosts a podcast called Unmuted, took a shot at SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt, calling his show a “debacle.”

Van Pelt, who’s not afraid of a little Twitter beef, fired back an hour later.

Mariotti responded with a crack about Van Pelt’s baldness, and the feud was on. It was a pretty typical Twitter scuffle, complete with personal attacks, name-calling, sarcasm and an odd break into third-person pronouns.

Mariotti, apparently forgetting who initiated the back-and-forth, criticized Van Pelt for interacting with him instead of worrying about the terrorist attack in England.

And then back to some A-grade pettiness.

It looked at that point like the exchange might be over, until 10 minutes later when Mariotti came back threatening a lawsuit against Van Pelt and ESPN over a “defamatory tweet.”

We can’t be 100 percent sure what so-called defamation Mariotti is referring to, but it’s probably the tweet from last September, in which Van Pelt alludes to Mariotti’s alleged history of domestic violence. Mariotti pleaded no contest in 2011 to charges of stalking and assault after an alleged incident with his ex-girlfriend.

We at Awful Announcing are not lawyers (in case you didn’t realize), but we know enough to question whether Mariotti, a public figure, could prove actual malice on Van Pelt’s part and enough to know that even if he did force ESPN into a settlement, he certainly would not “own” the network.

In other words, Mariotti is probably just blowing smoke. Even after all these years, he’s still pretty good at that.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.