Jay Mariotti and the Chicago Tribune are denying an Internet report that has the controversial sports columnist joining the newspaper next month.
The report surfaced on the Sports by Brooks "celebrity gossip" Web site and was soon picked up by the Romenesko media blog. Yet Tribune spokeswoman Kate Mersman issued a terse, "This is not true," when asked about it Monday.
Mariotti, while allowing that "the Tribune and I have had discussions about various projects," quickly added, "but we have not finalized it." He referred to the item as a "silly blog report."
Still, reports that Mariotti, who quit the Sun-Times a year ago insisting that newspapers were "dying," would swing to the Trib first surfaced almost a year ago and were apparently shot down by a noncompete clause in Mariotti's old deal with the Sun-Times.
"My noncompete clause at the Sun-Times expires in late August," Mariotti added Monday.
Yet Mike Kellams, associate managing editor for sports at the Tribune, said there are no plans to bring Mariotti onboard. "Not as far as I know," he said.
The sports writer continues to appear on ESPN's round-table discussion program "Around the Horn."