CHICAGO
09/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Jay Mariotti Leaving Chicago Sun-Times

Sports columnist Jay Mariotti resigned from the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday after 17 years as the paper's resident lightning rod.

"They accepted it,'' Mariotti said of his resignation in the Chicago Tribune. "It was my call entirely.''

A contrarian capable of summoning outrage at the drop of a dime, Mariotti is famous for his prolific output and fights with colleagues and column subjects.

Mariotti signed a three-year contract extension in June. Sun-Times Editor Michael Cooke said at the time, "We are excited to continue working with Jay, and for him to continue to pull no punches when it comes to his exceptional sports commentary."

The Sun-Times posted a notice of Mariotti's departure on its website Tuesday night, which said only that Mariotti is leaving "to pursue other opportunities."

However, Mariotti, who will continue as a panelist on ESPN's "Around the Horn," told the Tribune he is talking with a number of web sites and ready to abandon newspapers:

"I'm a competitor and I get the sense this marketplace doesn't compete,'' he said. "Everyone is hanging on for dear life at both papers. I think probably the days of high stakes competition in Chicago are over.

"To see what's happened in this business...I don't want to go down with it.''

Mariotti's resignation came the same day Sun-Times management informed the union of another round of planned newsroom cuts. It's not yet known whether the salary room created by Mariotti's departure will allow the paper to keep any of the three columnists threatened by the new round of layoffs.