Stephen A. Smith wants Mike Francesa on First Take

Stephen A. Smith already recruited one half of Mike and the Mad Dog to First Take. Now, he has big goals: luring Mike Francesa to his ESPN show.

Wednesday morning was Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s weekly guest appearance on First Take. And as Smith chastised Russo for complaining about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, he began rolling through Dog’s list of career accolades, which includes helping to pioneer the sports radio industry alongside Mike Francesa.

But the mere mention of Francesa’s name had Smith a little giddy, derailing him from his larger point about Russo and Rodgers.

“You are one of the pioneers if not THE pioneer with Mike Francesa,” Smith told Russo. “Who, by the way, I got to get him on this show one day too, with you. You understand what I’m saying? I mean it would be my honor to have Mike Francesa too.”

The proposal garnered a big grin from Russo. “You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him,” Russo said with a laugh.

“I AIN’T SCARED!” Smith replied before displaying a rare sense of humility. “I’m never gonna beat him, but I’ll try, damn it.”

The idea of Francesa joining Russo and Smith for an episode of First Take is not crazy. At the Barrett Sports Media summit earlier this year, Francesa admitted he met with Smith about joining his WFAN afternoon show after Russo left Mike and the Mad Dog to launch his own channel on SiriusXM in 2008. Francesa ultimately went on to host WFAN’s afternoon show by himself from 2008-17, and again from 2018-19. After bypassing a potential opportunity at WFAN, Smith’s stardom proceeded to skyrocket when he joined Skip Bayless on First Take in 2012 during his rebirth at ESPN.

Currently, the 68-year-old Francesa is largely retired from the sports media scene, hosting a short podcast for the BetRivers Network a couple times each week. And the BetRivers Network would be wise to get Francesa on First Take as a way of promoting his podcast.

After years of listening to Mike and the Mad Dog battle with ESPN Radio and the network for banning its talent from appearing on WFAN, it would be a stunning turn of events to watch them both sitting on the Worldwide Leader’s most prominent debate show.

[First Take]

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