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On Monday, Andrew Marchand reported that ESPN brass sought to recruit Mike Francesa for a “Mike and the Mad Dog” reunion with Chris Russo on Stephen A. Smith’s “First Take” program. On his BetRivers podcast on Tuesday, Francesa confirmed some of the details.
“I know there was a story written yesterday. The story had a lot of — I wouldn’t say it was 100% accurate, but it had a lot of truth to it. I’m gonna tell you exactly what happened,” Francesa said, as covered by Barrett Sports Media. “They called me last year and wanted me to surprised Dog and Stephen A. on ‘First Take’. Dog has been doing the show once a week with Stephen A. They wanted me to surprise them and go on. I was a little leery of surprising anyone. I felt better if they knew about it.”
Francesa said he agreed to do it before getting sick.
“We went back and forth trying to find a date. We agreed on a date and I had a bad cold…so I passed on that day. Think it was in March. Said we’d get back to ’em. We never got back to each other again, and that’s where it’s been.”
Francesa was of the belief it would be a one-off as opposed to a regular engagement, and that from his perspective there have been no talks about it for at least the last six months.
“I don’t know how it got out,” he said. “It didn’t get out from me. But it is true that there was conversations. They did ask me to do it. They did not talk to me about any offer to do it on a permanent basis or anything like that. It was — as far as I knew — a one time thing. That was my understanding at the time. We haven’t discussed it since last April, maybe May.”
Marchand’s report stated that ESPN “hopes to revive previous talks.”
“Mike and the Mad Dog” was a ratings juggernaut in WFAN’s afternoon drive from 1989 until 2008, when Russo left for SiriusXM.