During his ESPN Radio show Keyshawn, JWill, and Max, Keyshawn Johnson recently broke into a surprising Chris Russo impression. To perform his parody of Russo, Johnson spoke at a rapid pace and in a higher pitched voice. The sound and cadence resembled a cartoon version of Russo, whose unique on-air style can often resemble a cartoon version of a sports host. By Johnson’s request, First Take later aired the impression to be judged by Mad Dog himself.
“It wasn’t far off,” Smith said after admitting he would have assumed “there’s no way in hell” Johnson can offer a good Russo impression.
“It wasn’t far off at all,” Russo agreed before adding, “Hopefully not too antagonistic, there’s an edge you don’t want to go past.”
In New York, many radio hosts and sportscasters believe they can pull off a Chris Russo impression. Even Stephen A. Smith will attempt to mimic his First Take partner voice every so often. Russo should be used to it by now; his unique sound and animated personality attracts frequent audio caricatures of himself. But no one does it better than WFAN’s Gregg Giannotti, who can often make it seem like the legendary host is still gracing New York’s terrestrial airwaves.
Johnson’s impression may have surprised First Take, but the former wide receiver might have Russo’s voice ingrained in his head. Johnson played for the New York Jets from 1996-99, right at the time that Mike and the Mad Dog were at the center of the New York sports scene. Even if he wasn’t an avid WFAN listener, it would have been hard to be an NFL star in New York without knowing who Mike Francesa and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo were.