It did not take long to confirm the reason Bart Scott left WFAN for ESPN when his contract with the former expired on Dec. 31.
Come 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day, there he was on the nationally televised news and discussion show “Get Up!’’
“I felt like I had unfinished business on television,” Scott, an analyst on CBS’ “The NFL Today” from 2014-16, said Monday after recording promotional spots for ESPN in Manhattan.
“I wanted to be able to work my way back, and who has more platforms for sports than ESPN? I just thought it would be natural for me to come back so I could try and show my growth.”
In addition to at least 30 “Get Up!” appearances and some on “First Take,” Scott will be heard on ESPN New York radio from 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays starting Jan. 20 alongside Alan Hahn.
The combination of radio and TV was a no-brainer for the former Jets linebacker, given his aspirations, which include finding his way onto ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” panel.
But while television was his main motivation, it was not the only one.
He said he was displeased with how WFAN handled the firing of his former partner, Chris Carlin, last September, as well as by WFAN’s initial contract offer, which he said was non-guaranteed.
“I didn’t like the way it went down,” he said of Carlin, who now hosts an evening show on ESPN New York. “I’ve been fired before. I know what that’s all about, but to me it’s the way you do things, not always what you do.
“And it just rubbed me the wrong way that after the show, they just let him go . . . There’s empathy and grace in everything you do.”
He said he never considered agreeing to a non-guaranteed contract.
“I’ve seen my spot get rearranged [when Mike Francesa returned in May 2018] and I’ve seen my partner get fired after work,” he said. “I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that played a role in it.
“But the biggest piece of this whole thing was the fact I wanted to do TV . . . All I wanted was a home to grow and someone to believe in me.”
Scott confirmed that WFAN sought to keep him with a more acceptable contract offer but added, “That was super-late in the game. I was checked out.”
WFAN continued to put him on the air deep into December. “I mean, every day going over there, I was surprised I was still on the air,” he said.
But he was happy to do it, in part because when Carlin left, he said, “Me and Maggie [Gray] were like, ‘You know what: ‘We’re going to finish first for Chris.’ We wanted to show that this show could have worked as constituted.”
Scott and Gray did finish first among men 25-54 in the autumn ratings book.
Scott said he never had a personal problem with Francesa and told him when he returned that he understood why he did so 4 1⁄2 months after initially leaving the station.
“I wasn’t mad,” Scott said. “It’s a powerful thing. That’s why athletes always come back.”
He said he also is unconcerned about the murky contractual status that helped delay his original ESPN New York debut from Jan. 2. The company line was that he simply needed a break. “I am kind of mentally fried,” he said.
What if the 2 1⁄2-week delay hurts the ratings for the winter book down the road?
“I’ve been behind and caught people before,” Scott said. “I’m not worried about that.”
Despite it all, Scott left WFAN grateful for how it helped him develop his voice, become more conversational and, yes, learn more about baseball.
“I hate to admit it, but I kind of like baseball now,” he said. “I was forced to, but I kind of get it . . . I was kind of learning on the job there, and they threw my feet in the fire. It was good, because it forced me to learn.”
Now he will start over with Hahn, a former Newsday sportswriter who has covered both hockey and basketball.
Scott, 39, is financially secure — “If I just want to sit on my [butt] for the next 40 years or however long I’m on this Earth, I can do that,” he said — but he still has an athlete’s thirst for challenges.
“We get to do it in a huge market under a microscope, which is great, because if we knock it out of the park, it’s going to be magnified,” Scott said. “If we don’t, then it’s going to be scrutinized. That’s the beauty of it.”