Mike and the Mad Dog

It’s official: you have two weeks to prepare yourself for the Mike and the Mad Dog reunion on Stephen A. Smith’s First Take.

After Smith confirmed to Howard Stern that he plans on bringing Mike Francesa to First Take soon, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo accidentally revealed the reunion is officially scheduled for Feb. 1.

“Did anybody catch the reunion we’re going to have on February 1?” Russo casually said during his Thursday afternoon radio show. “Did everybody see that? Stevie did say it on Howard, didn’t he?”

Whoops. Stephen A. Smith did not say that with Howard this week. Smith shared his admiration for the former WFAN duo and told Stern that he planned on bringing them both in studio soon, but a date was never mentioned. The Mike and the Mad Dog reunion on First Take had been rumored since Smith first floated the idea last August.

“I believe that’s official. I shouldn’t spill it myself,” Russo added. But it was too late, he spilt it. “It sounds like the big guy will return and we’ll have the three of us in there. I can tell you this, no other people, the three of us for two hours. Think about that. You talk about me being a fraud, Mike hated ESPN for 100 years!”

The “no other people” factor is another big reveal by Russo. Ever since Smith booted Max Kellerman from First Take in 2021, the debate show has morphed into a roundtable setting with a rotating cast of co-hosts. For the last year, Russo has fit into that cast of co-hosts every Wednesday, where the Radio Hall-of-Famer sits on First Take as ex-athletes take their turns in attempting to expose him on-air.

To Russo’s credit, he checks his ego at the door and keeps returning to ESPN for more. But checking an ego is not in Francesa’s repertoire. Surely there will be enough fireworks on Feb. 1 as Francesa, Russo and Smith yell at each other for two hours, but keeping other ESPN personalities off the show will also protect the Sports Pope from getting exposed.

Mike and the Mad Dog reuniting on ESPN is a stunning turn of events that no one would have predicted prior to Russo’s surprise rebirth on the network. For years, Francesa and Russo battled ESPN Radio and bashed the network for banning its talent from joining their WFAN show. Now Francesa will join Russo in pushing that venom aside to sit on one of ESPN’s biggest studio shows.


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com