Mike Francesa confirms ESPN wanted ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ reunion

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On Monday, Andrew Marchand reported that ESPN’s brass was looking to sign Mike Francesa for a “Mike and the Mad Dog” reunion with Chris Russo on Stephen A. Smith’s “First Take” program. On her 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. I’ll tell you exactly what happened,” Francesa said, covered by Barrett Sports Media. “They called me last year and wanted me to surprise Dog and Stephen A. on ‘First Take’. Dog did the show once a week with Stephen A. They wanted me to surprise them and go on. I was a little wary of surprising anyone, I would feel better if they knew.

Francesa said he agreed to do it before he got sick.

“We went back and forth trying to find a date. We agreed on a date and I had a bad cold…so I died that day. I think it was in March. I said we’d get back to them. We never saw each other again, and that’s when it happened.

Mike Francesa confirmed that ESPN approached him about a "Mike and the mad dog" reunion on "First take."
Mike Francesa confirmed ESPN approached him about a “Mike and the Mad Dog” reunion on “First Take.”
Cindy Ord

Francesa thought it would be a one-time engagement as opposed to a regular engagement, and that from her perspective, there hadn’t been any discussions about it for at least six months.

“I don’t know how it happened,” he said. “It didn’t come out of me. But it is true that there have been conversations. They asked me to do it. They didn’t tell me about any offer to do it on a permanent basis or anything like that. It was – as far as I know – a unique thing. That was my understanding at the time. We haven’t discussed it since last April, maybe May.

Marchand’s report said ESPN “hopes to revive previous discussions.”

“Mike and the Mad Dog” was a ratings juggernaut in WFAN’s afternoon reader from 1989 until 2008, when Russo left for SiriusXM.