With Mike Francesa making his return to WFAN, it’s time to take a look back at some of his career highlights. Going back to his days at CBS Sports in the 1980s, through his efforts to get on New York sports radio and then co-hosting his “numba won” show with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo to eventually hosting solo, there’s been no shortage of material for the Sports Pope.
When he announced his departure from WFAN in 2016, Francesa went on a prolonged farewell tour. Who knew his farewell would lead him right back to where he began his radio career?
Hired by CBS Sports as a behind-the-scenes researcher for college football, college basketball and The NFL Today.
Hired by WFAN to be a weekend host discussing college football and basketball. Due to positive reviews, he becomes a fill-in host on weekday shows.
Becomes a part of WFAN’s weekday lineup by co-hosting a midday show with Ed Coleman.
In March on Don Imus’ morning show, Francesa makes a prediction that Seton Hall would make the NCAA Tournament Final Four. Imus bets that if Seton Hall makes it, he would give Francesa a Porsche, which never materializes, but the Sports Pope was effectively born during this period.
In addition, Francesa begins to make on-air appearances on CBS and is eventually named a studio analyst on college football and basketball.
September 5 — WFAN teams Francesa with Chris Russo, later to be named “Mike and the Mad Dog,” to fill the afternoon drive slot from 3-7 p.m.
Their show would become the number one show in afternoon drive. WFAN would eventually expand the show to run from 1-6:30 p.m.
Francesa resigns from CBS before the Final Four after the network requests him to be a sideline reporter for the event.
Francesa and Russo were criticized over comments they made over the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Some listeners said they blamed Israel and wanted Jewish Americans to declare loyalty to the United States. Both Francesa and Russo denied they made those comments.
YES begins a TV simulcast of Mike and the Mad Dog that would not only be aired in the New York area, but nationwide thanks to DirecTV’s sports tier.
Russo announces that he will leave WFAN for Sirius Satellite Radio. After a brief search for a co-host, Francesa will go solo for his show for the rest of his first WFAN run.
In the midst of his steroids controversy, former Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez paid a visit to Francesa for a bizarre interview.
YES announces that it will no longer simulcast Francesa’s show.
Francesa would not be off TV for long. Fox Sports 1 (now FS1) announces it will simulcast his show giving him a national platform. However, the relationship would deteriorate rather quickly.
In January, Francesa announces that he will leave WFAN at the end of his contract in 2017.
Two months later, Francesa has a three-hour reunion with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo.
In March, Francesa and Russo reunite on MLB Network and both take shots at the show that replaced him.
April 24— Francesa announces that he will return to WFAN.