Tonight is a very special night for me. One that I guess you could say I have patiently waited for since Nov. 5, 2010 (aka the day my show on Versus got the Sopranos treatment). I wasn’t on the show much at the end, anyway, but its cancellation hurt nonetheless.
To paraphrase the great Dwayne Johnson, “Finally, the Sterg has come back to television.”
And damn it feels good.
When I was approached by the people at Fuel TV to come on board for Hometown Throwdown, I was beyond elated. This was nearly a month before my GMA interview, and it came after almost six months of whirlwind drama that I would like to forget as much my father would the 2003 Orange Bowl.
I wanted my first jobs back on TV to be with good people and with a product I could truly get behind, and after speaking with the producer, I knew this show was the perfect place for me.
The concept? Everyday, average Joes getting what could possibly be their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to beat the living $#!% out of another man without the threat of jail time.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good underdog story.
So on March 31, I flew out to Minneapolis and then hitched a plane smaller than my personal preference to LaCrosse, Wisconsin. That’s right: the belly of the beast.
I was so used to pouring my heart out in my blog that having to be radio silent these past few months has been absolute torture for me. I was finally able to sit down for lunch with a good friend I had lost touch with. There were plenty of questions—the stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor with GMA and, more importantly...a better look at who I really am when I’m finally able to “put all seriousness aside.”
Friend: How did it feel when you finally got a chance to speak on Good Morning America?
I’m happy with it as a whole because it was a sense of relief. I still received criticism about it because people thought I was trying to keep this unfortunate situation in the limelight, but I had never been given an opportunity to say my piece.
It wasn’t about whether or not people cared enough to hear my side of the story. I cared enough about how it was affecting my career (and, more importantly, my family) that I felt that I had to get my side out there.
I'm not expecting pity from anyone. I just want them to have the facts. One day this will all just be a blip. I understand that it’s going to be a question in every single interview I give until I decide not to be in this industry anymore. I’m OK with that; I understand that. I just hope that people get to know “me” in the next couple of years.
This situation shouldn’t and doesn’t define me. And me talking about it openly and honestly with respect to all parties shows that I'm not just the girl in those photos that keep running over and over again in local papers.
Yeah, Jenn…but…I’ve seen the pictures in the papers. Why on earth were you wearing that (when you worked for the Jets)?
The funny part is my employer gave my wardrobe to me. Do people actually think I woke up that day and decided to wear those outfits? Ridiculous.
Sure, I had dressed sexy in college, but this was different. This was a job. This was a uniform of sorts. Cheerleaders don’t pick out their outfits. They are standard issue.
My wardrobe was the same kind of situation. Besides, anyone who has been to New York (or, more importantly, a game at the Meadowlands) knows you can’t wear a midriff shirt past Oct. 1 anyway. Most of the time I was wearing a puffy jacket and legwarmers. I looked like something from a 1980s dance video.
And, now I bet you are wondering what happened to all that Jets gear. I obviously can't wear any of that clothing anymore, so I boxed it all up and sent it to a ranch that takes care of abused and abandoned children.
I actually received a photo of one of the boys wearing my Jets sweatshirt with a huge grin and a big thumbs up. Seeing that made part of me feel really good. The other part of me, however, is embarrassed.
"Great...I’m the size of a nine-year-old boy."
How have other women in the business treated you?
If you look at the pictures that are out there from two years ago, I don’t know if I would have had sympathy for myself back then...
So I don’t expect these women to either.
They are out there hustling and trying to make names for themselves in a male-dominated world. I was looking for a career in sports and a way to make people laugh (sometimes even at my own expense). It was never my career goal to break down the X’s and O’s.
I think some women out there “get that.” I’ve exchanged numerous messages with a few of them, namely Sports Business Journal’s Liz Mullen.
I think at first she took offense to my career choices until I explained myself and my rationale to her. And now, while we may not see eye to eye on everything, we can agree that at the end of the day I’m still a human being with rights and feelings.
And I deserve to be able to go to work in an environment I feel welcome and safe in just like everyone else.
While working for Versus, you ripped ESPN’s Michelle Beadle on air. Would you take that back today?
I was voted most likely to be suspended on my show with Versus after I dropped the words “ass” and “mouth” in the same sentence during the first five minutes of the very first show. That right there is all me.
I have opinions, and I never said anyone had to agree with them. But there are other situations (like this particular case) that are not of my choosing. There are situations that come up when you have a job. There are certain things asked of you. I didn’t necessarily agree with these choices, but they weren’t mine to make.
Believe me: It’s nothing personal, and I absolutely regret it. There’s enough girl-on-girl crime out there that I certainly never wanted to add to the mix. But unfortunately, what’s done is done.
I’ll say this, though: I had the utmost respect for Michelle Beadle then, and I have the utmost respect for her now.
Was it difficult to stay quiet?
I think in our society, silence is often perceived as guilt. I knew I’d have to speak eventually. I just didn’t know when.
I didn’t want to be any more of a distraction during the season than the situation already was. The people advising me at the time didn’t want me to speak, so I did some writing on my own to keep my sanity. Your mind starts messing with you and playing tricks on you when you have nothing to do.
People started making all these false assumptions about me and my character. In February, I was under so much stress and anxiety that I developed an ulcer. There just came a point where I had had enough. I needed to tell my side of the story for my own sanity and for the sake of my family, who was tired of simply saying “no comment.”
I also realized that in order to start over, I had to part ways with my management team. We had different goals in mind for my future, and I knew I had to do something about it. So I broke free and finally put my side of the story out there. I’m definitely more cautious, though, especially with people I don’t have a rapport with.
I’ve always been known as the TMI (Too Much Information) Girl, but I’m just brutally honest. I know now that I need to pull back a little. I have to evaluate people I want to trust and, more importantly, who I trust with my personal information.
Are you a happy person now?
I’ve climbed off the ledge, if that is what you are asking.
Look, the last couple of months have been brutal to say the least. I’m just a fun-loving sports fan. That part has never been feigned.
I also love to joke around. That’s been the hardest part about this whole scenario—not being able to be myself. I can’t make inappropriate jokes. I can’t be critical of anyone. I’ve had to be someone I’m not for a long time, so getting back to the “old me” (the sometimes “not-so-PC” me)—I think it can be a little shocking at first to those who don’t really know my personality.
I think the GMA interview was a good way to get my story out there, but it was certainly not the best way to get to know me. It was a serious sitdown and hopefully not something I will have to do ever again.
But it's not like you can just jump back in to full-blown “sarcastic jerk” mode. You’ve got to ease people back into the “snark.” And some subjects you just have to understand are “off limits,” even if someone just left it on a tee for me to hit out of the park with a gruesome one-liner.
I know, even in working with a new publicist, there has been an adjustment period. I envision the poor guy popping Xanax and hyperventilating into a paper bag every time his phone alerts him that I have tweeted something. But he’s starting to get used to it. He did flip out over a tweet I wrote about “Tiger Woods pulling out (of the Masters).”
I just told him, “Relax, everyone knows Tiger pulls out, otherwise, he’d have cubs.” I also take the opportunity to remind him that I tweet only about one of every five things that run though my brain, and the rest gets caught in my “too politically incorrect” sieve I have to have on my life at the current moment. That’s just a typical day-to-day discussion with him.
I’m able to make fun of myself again, which is good because I was tired of letting everyone else have all the fun. I’ve said my piece, and if people want to know, they can Google it. I’m not going on a “World Apology Tour in a city near you” to keep defending myself.
Ready to get back to red carpet and partying?
I’ve been under house arrest for the past six months. I’m not a drinker, but I do enjoy getting out and socializing with people. What has killed me the most is not being able to go to sporting events or enjoying sporting events.
I was putting electrical tape at the bottom of my TV (so I couldn’t see the crawl) just to try to escape the BS that was being said about me. So yeah. I am ready to get back to going to the Indy 500 or a Rays game.
Are you going to take your clothes off (on camera) again?
(Inner monologue: Clearly he’s a male.)
I don’t think so. I did that when I was 21 years old, and I haven’t really done it since. I’ve posed for an occasional Maxim shoot here and there, but that’s bikinis and articles of clothing made from recycled dental floss.
People think those Playboy pictures are new when actually they’re five years old. I don’t even look like that anymore, especially since the giant implants were taken out.
I don’t necessarily see posing nude as something for my career. And I love food way too much to be a model. I love dessert. I like to cook. Besides, when have you ever heard of a 5’2" "model"? Child, please.
That’s the real me. Obscure references, WWE quotes and an unapologetic “just one of the guys” mentality. And that’s exactly the version of me the good people of Wisconsin were introduced to.
I won’t lie, my stomach was completely destroyed before I went out to do interviews the first night, but once I started interacting with the fighters and the crowd, all that seemed to go away.
The only time things got a little weird was when someone in the dark rafters started screaming “Brett Favre’s penis” at me. But I just grabbed the mic from the announcer and said:
“Relax, buddy. By the way, your seats suck.”
The crowd really enjoyed this interaction, and it sent them into laughter. Besides, I'd reached my “dick joke recipient” quota for the year. So let’s come up with some new material, shall we?
The trip to LaCrosse was exactly what I needed to get my groove back. And I’m so happy to be able to share it with you in these two specials on Fuel TV. Now, obviously I can’t tell you who wins, but I can tell you one thing...
I’ll be rooting for the underdog.