WFAN's Mike Francesa long has resisted cooperating with ESPN in any way. But on Wednesday he announced during an interview with Bill Simmons that he has agreed to participate in a "30 for 30" documentary on the old "Mike and the Mad Dog" show, as has his former partner, Chris Russo.
The timing was a bit awkward because Simmons is one of the founders of the "30 for 30" project in 2009 and recently left ESPN -- which was what freed him to be on Francesa's show in the first place.
Simmons, who has been doing a podcast and is preparing for a new show on HBO that will launch in the spring, is a longtime fan of Francesa and of Russo and has been eager since leaving ESPN to be on with Francesa.
During the interview, Simmons urged Francesa and Russo to get back together. Francesa echoed recent comments by Russo that he would not necessarily be opposed to doing so, but he pointed out the huge financial obstacles to something such as that happening. Paying both men to be on the same show would be a challenge for any station. Francesa is under contract at WFAN through the end of 2017. Russo hosts a show on SiriusXM.
Simmons also revealed that shortly after Russo left Francesa in the summer of 2008, Francesa called Simmons about being a potential new co-host, one of only two people Francesa said he reached out to. But Simmons had recently re-signed with ESPN and had to take a pass. Francesa never did add a new co-host for his afternoon drive time show.
In the 35-minute interview, Simmons reiterated some of the points he has made on podcasts about the end of his time with ESPN, including an assertion that the NFL played a part in forcing him out because of his criticism of the league and of commissioner Roger Goodell.