Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Mike Francesa gets quite a few things off his chest

(Credit: Watchdog)

Well, my friends, I officially have lost all sense of reason and proportion.

I just spent hours transcribing all 23 minutes of Mike Francesa's rant on WFAN in response to slights and perceived slights over the past month in the wake of his breakup with Chris Russo.

The raw text is interesting, but begs for explanation and interpretation, like stuff in the margins of prayer books that translates ancient, cryptic texts into plain, modern English.

Maybe I'll get to that tomorrow. Right now my fingers need a long rest.

So enjoy Mike unfiltered by clicking below."I have not often talked about any part of it. I haven’t shared any of it with the audience. I haven’t talked about it at all. Believe it or not, while Dog has been on this whirlwind promotional tour, as everyone has seen, and he’s done 1,000 interviews, some of them even against this program, with old friends and foes alike, which is fine, not one person, not one person, and this has kind of amazed us, not one person has asked my opinion or has asked to do an interview with me about any part of what happened, not one. No one has asked me a question.

"I have to be fair. [Richard] Sandomir from the Times has asked me two questions. One was did I listen to Dog’s show yesterday, which I had to inform him I had a show against it, which made it pretty hard. And Best of Newsday has asked a couple of questions. He asked me a few questions as things unfolded. But I have sat here in amazement that as this thing has unfolded over the last month, not one person has asked me to do an interview, or has asked my side of the story, which is fine. But I have to sit here and I have to say that I’ve talked to the people here a lot and with some friends of mine that it did amaze me that in all the media not one person wanted to ask me what I thought about it or my side of the story. Not one.

"Now I understand that I have never been a media darling when it comes to getting great treatment, and I probably deserve a lot of that. People think I’m tough, they think I don’t court favor that well. Let’s be honest. I don’t have a lot of guys in the media, critics, who I’m buddy-buddy with, as Dog let’s say is with [the Daily News' Bob] Raissman, so no one has ever written one word about my side of the story. What I worry about it is that our side of the story never gets out to you at all. Our side never has gotten out.

"I don’t care what the media writes. They can say whatever they want. They can have any opinion they want. They usually do. The question is, does the audience have any idea what’s going on because of the way it’s been depicted?

"Frankly, I have taken a beating here for a month. And I said I never was going to say a word, not one, until the whole cycle was complete, and now the cycle is complete, because the promotional tour is over and Dog has begun his show, and the best to him. No ill feeling. I hope he does well. But as I said, not one time did anybody ask me my opinion of the breakup, just his. My opinion of the show or what happened or anything else, and frankly, I took the worst of it, which is fine. But really the worst of it.

"When the thing started in the summertime it was depicted that I was leaving and that I was the guy who was an ingrate and the guy who was bailing out on FAN after all these years when things weren’t going well and going to do TV and then that didn’t turn out to be the case. No one even asked me if I was leaving. Then it didn’t turn out to be the case. And then the story was that I ran him out. So it went from me being a guy who was an ingrate because I was leaving to me being the bad guy because I ran him out, neither of which was the truth.

"I wasn’t leaving, and I didn’t run him out. Never did. Dog chose to leave, which was fine. He wanted to leave, and again, he has every right to do that. The way it was depicted was ridiculous. I sat here and watched the interviews that went on and commentary and things I read. I read that I was jealous about how much money Dog made, which was never the truth. It mentioned what my salary was and what Dog’s new salary was and how irate I was when no one knew what Dog’s salary was or had any idea.

"You learn a lesson, folks. I hope you don’t get your information from the newspapers, because the stuff that has been written during this time about me has been so wrong. It has never been even remotely accurate, I mean not even in the ballpark accurate. Stuff about me being jealous and irate about things like that is just totally ridiculous. I didn’t do anything with him except be supportive. And I am not worried about anything financially. I’m not here to talk about my salary. I’ve never done that in 20 years. But I will say that it’s not anything that anybody has to worry about, nor is it anything . . . Let me just put it this way, OK: It wasn’t an issue, OK. Let me put it that way. It was not a factor. It was not startling to me. It did not affect me in any way. It was not an issue.

"To read the things I read and the way I was depicted was just comical. And I sat there as my family read this stuff and saw how I threw these tantrums, which wasn’t true, and in interviews Dog did I got knocked for being a bad guy, for being an egomaniac and for being impossible to work with and called all these names. I never uttered a word during the whole cycle of this thing, which went on for a month, whether it was [David] Letterman attacking me, whether it was my old boss [Sirius CEO Mel] Karmazin attacking me, like I didn’t make him enough money in 18 years he was here. I don’t want to get on him very much. I think Mel better dig in and worry about the fact his [Sirius] stock is 70 cents a share. It was five bucks when he started there. It’s up to 74 [cents]. I want to be accurate. It’s up to 74.

"I was a little surprised by stuff like that, for no reason. Because all I did was come to work. That was it. I just came to work. I didn’t have anything to do with that. I didn’t have anything to do with the move. And I came here all summer and as always, came in, did a show and told you the truth. I told you things weren’t good. I told you we were at a crossroads, and anything I uttered to you all summer was 100 percent accurate and honest. I didn’t know where it was going. I didn’t know what was going to happen. And obviously we all know what happened. I didn’t conceal anything from you. And I never led you astray.

"When I came back to do that show at Yankee Stadium [June 27] I sat and told you, 'Folks, things are not good.' I told you the show was at a crossroad. Now I’ve sat here and said nothing. And I don’t like to take the program and not do what we do, which is sports. But if I don’t use this forum, I don’t have one. I don’t have someone doing the bidding for me, because like I said, I’m not going to be a guy who’s going to court favor with the media.

"Most of them, they’re not in love with me and they’d rather see me fall on my head, which I understand. I’ve been here doing this a long time. But what I can’t deal with is a guy like Raissman, who, listen, he’s been Dog’s guy for 20 years. I mean basically they’re inseparable. They live together now, I think, the last two months. Raissman is the worst culprit, because he has never, during the time that he has written all this stuff about the breakup of ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ has never, ever called me once for a comment, not once. All he’s done is attack and attack and attack and the attacks are to attack me and make Dog look good, which is his prerogative.

"But when he called up to get the information about the fact that what I’ve done over 20 years on solo shows, which I’ve done one for 20 years on Sunday morning and Dog who’s done one for 20 years on Saturday morning, and he was given the information, well, the information didn’t suit him because my numbers, and that’s just the way it is, are very, very good, and Dog’s are less than that, substantially less than that, and he didn’t write it. He refused to write it. He was given the numbers and he refused to write it, and he’s just pounded away.

"So I’ve sat here, and like I said, I don’t want to make it about me, I really don’t. And I know I’m accused of being an egomaniac all the time so I should make it about me, because I get accused of being one anyway, so I should make it about me anyway, but I try not to make it about me and instead make it about sports, which is what I love. But I don’t like the fact, and my friends are saying to me, 'Hey, you have to fight back,' and I say, 'I’m going to sit back and wait and let this whole thing unfold.' But I took a beating, everywhere, every story. I was the villain, I was the bad guy, I was the reason. I was this, I was that, I was the bad guy.

"Chris is always the guy who played the fan, the guy who was more lovable because I played the tough guy. I understand that. That’s fine. What’s great about the audience is the audience sees through and knows what the truth is. And they know if you’re telling them the truth, and I’ve always tried to tell them the truth. I don’t court favor. I don’t go asking guys in the media or critics to do my bidding for me, so I get pounded, which is fine, but it comes to a point where you can’t take it anymore. Where you say, this is ridiculous.

"A perfect example is Raissman, who is Dog’s guy. I’ve got him pounding me here since this whole thing started about how, 'Oh, FAN’s business is going to go down the drain and Francesa can’t carry a show by myself.' I can’t carry a show by myself? I’ve done a show on Sunday morning for 21 years by myself that has never finished behind a conventional station in 21 years. I’ve finished behind a few of those church stations, those religious stations that do gospel music on Sunday morning or sermons on Sunday morning, especially the Spanish-speaking ones, which do astronomical ratings. I’ve finished behind a couple of those.

"I’ve never finished behind a conventional station on Sunday morning in 21 years and my ratings are double Dog’s by myself. But I can’t carry a show and he can. Now, I never said he couldn’t. And I take umbrage with someone who says he couldn’t. But for him to write that I couldn’t and Dog can is outrageous.

"He did write one word about ‘Mike’d Up’ once. He wrote that ‘Mike’d Up’ would be a colossal failure the first time I did the show and that there was no room on Sunday night for that kind of show. And I just finished my 250th show at NBC and you can go check and ask NBC about it. That show has record ratings thanks to you the public. For 250 shows it’s been No. 1. It has driven CBS’s show off the air, by their own admission, and it has been a show they’ve tried to copy in other cities because it has been so successful.

"I don’t want to sit here and talk about the fact I did that. But you know what, why should I sit here and get beat up day after day by a guy who dislikes me and just likes Dog? Just be fair. Be a little bit fair.

"I’m going to add some voices to this show. You know why? Because I’m here for the next 5½ years and I think that’s the best show. And I’m trying to handpick them. I’ve almost hired two people. It hasn’t worked out yet. I’m talking to a lot more. You know why? I want to give somebody good an opportunity. You know why? This is a great piece of real estate. We’ve built something. Dog and I built something special here. It’s a great piece of real estate.

"Hopefully the person I pick is here with me for the next 5½ years, because God willing I’m going to be here, and is here long after I’m gone. I’m looking for someone to be that. I want to take my time and be sure it’s right, because I don’t want to change again. I mean, I did 19 years with one person. It was great. We had our ups. We had our downs. We had more great times than bad times. We both did really well. But I got tired after a month of being the villain when I didn’t say one word. I never did an interview. I never fought back. And I took a beating to the point where it hurt my family. They were upset about things that were written and said when they knew they weren’t true. To the point where stuff my wife did in private even got in the newspaper, when she did a nice gesture and that’s even in the newspaper to make me look bad. And that’s just wrong.

"For someone to sit there and say I can’t do a show by myself, while Dog can, look at the numbers. Folks, in this town, and again, if I don’t say it, no one will, there are only three shows that are No. 1 in sports. I have all three. ‘Mike’d Up’ is No. 1. ‘The NFL Now’ is No. 1. ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ has been No. 1 for 20 years. That’s it. No one else has a show. Dog had half of one. I have three. That’s it. No one else comes close. There’s not one person. Now, that makes me an egomaniac for saying that, but you know what, that’s fact. You could look it up. Those are facts. So that’s why it’s laughable that anyone is going to be jealous of their salary, because my salary is much higher than anybody else’s in this town, by a lot. But it’s because I have three No. 1 shows. I’ve earned that. I’ve been doing this for 22, 23 years.

"I have great relationships with sponsors. They’ve known me a long time. I own a piece of ‘The NFL Now.’ I have a great relationship with NBC. I have a long-term contract there. I have a long-term contract here. And the idea that someone is going to attack what we’re doing here and I’m just going to let them do it and say things like, 'Oh, business is bad at FAN.' Well you know what? Business isn’t bad at FAN. And business isn’t bad on this show. We never lost a sponsor, not one, since the change.

"I have three outlets right now bidding to simulcast this show for five years – three. And YES is one of them. We’ll see what happens. That’s business. YES has been great. They’ve been a great partner. MSG is wonderful. We have another that wants to bid, too. We have three outlets that want to simulcast the show next year – three.

"We have not lost a sponsor, we have not lost a listener, we have not lost anything. I wish Dog well, I really do, I hope he does great. Why do I care if he does great? I hope he does great. I wish him well. I worked with him for 19 years. I have no animosity toward him. But I sit here and I became the bad guy and I’m getting attacked, day after day.

"Now Raissman attacks me because he doesn’t like me very much. He never has, and he thinks he’s boosting Dog. 'Hey, Mike can’t carry a show, listen to Dog, Dog can carry a show.' Although the ratings suggest that over 20 years I’ve carried the solo shows better than Dog. That doesn’t mean Dog can’t do it, but how can you say I can’t do it when my ratings are double Dog’s for 20 years? And I also have a Sunday night show that is unbelievably, if you let me say, successful.

"Everyone in this town, every critic, wrote that show wouldn’t work. Every one of them, and they’ve never written another word about it since. The only guys who’ve written about that show are the guys who aren’t sports critics, just TV critics who’ve written about that show. The sports guys haven’t written a word, except to knock it. Which is fine, I live that every day.

"I’m not going to get any good publicity from those guys, which is fine. If they’re fair. If they’re not, fine. I can live with that. But what I don’t like is when they say that business is bad, or they say I threw a tantrum or say things that hurt my family, it’s wrong.

"And then you don’t get the information. And the relationship I have is with the audience. Sometimes the media tries to be the conduit for that. But the good thing I do is I get to talk directly to the audience. And the audience is why I’m here. I’m only here because of you. I laugh through the years when people say, 'Oh, Mike doesn’t like the audience.' Why? Because I’m tough on a caller I don’t like the audience? I love the audience. I try to be always respectful to the audience and I’ve never looked the audience in the eye and lied, not one minute.

"And during this whole thing not once did I say anything that wasn’t totally true. Not once. Not one minute, not one sentence. Everything I told you was the truth. And I never painted a rosy picture. Just go back and listen. But this idea that if I don’t bring people onto the show the show is going to collapse, you know what, the show is not going to collapse. I’m going to try to put together the best show because I want to. I have nothing to prove here. These guys let me do whatever I want. I’ve earned that. They trust my judgment. And why not? They’ve made me a lot of money, I’ve made them a lot of money. That’s how it works.

"But when you’ve got guys who have an agenda like Raissman, and I understand he loves Dog, so he’s going to try to pump him up during this time when there’s a split. He’s come after me hard the last month. But he’s come after me with nothing but stuff he can’t back up. He can say he doesn’t like my show. That’s his prerogative not to like it.

"But he can’t say it’s not successful and he can’t say I can’t do it because I’ve done it for 20 years and I’ve done it in three spots, and let him find a guy in this town who’s done it in any category in the ratings on radio and TV. There’s none except the three I’ve mentioned, and they’re all mine. Half was Dog’s and he did a great job in the biggest one of all. But there’s three and they’re all mine, and I’m proud of them because of the relationship I have with the audience because the audience responds to me. And that’s all I have, because the audience responds to me. They always have. They have for a long time. And the sponsors respond to that. That’s how it works.

"So I don’t need the middleman. But I hate to have to come here and do this myself because if I don’t do this it doesn’t get done. Because not one person, think about it, you had the breakup of a show that was 20 years the No. 1 show in New York, and a show that was covered like a team, and when the show broke up I had two people ask me maybe three questions over one month.

"Not one person asked me to do an interview, not one person asked my side of the story, not one person, not one time, nowhere. Come do a sitdown interview. Come do one on TV, come do one on radio, come do one in the print, come do one in the magazine. Not one person asked to hear my side of the story. Not one. And I was getting pounded. I got pounded on network TV. I got made fun of on network TV. My family had to see that. I was called all kinds of names. I was told I was the reason for the breakup. I was called jealous.

"Hate to say it, but more power to Dog for what he signed for and everything he got. That wasn’t going to rock my world. I hate to tell you, that’s just the way it is. I hate to say it, because I never wanted to have to say it, but you know what, I’ve been called all these names and said all this stuff that just is not accurate. Those folks have not come within two football fields of my salary yet in their stories. Which is not their business. But why write it like you know it when you don’t have a clue.

"Here’s all you need to know about Raissman: When I went out to Jets camp to do a show, I got Favre on. I worked hard to get Favre on that day. I spent hours behind the scenes to get Favre on that day, because I knew the audience would expect me to have Favre on that day. Hours to get Favre on that day. It took me hours of negotiation.

"I got him on and all Raissman did was knock me, and said I bullied the Jets to get him on. I had Mangini and Favre together doing an interview, the only one you’ll see, ever in this town that someone would get them to sit down together and do an interview. Then I get knocked, and he wanted to know why SNY, which he gets paid by, couldn’t get a one-on-one with Favre. Now how is that objective reporting?

"And how is it objective reporting when during the biggest story that he would handle this year he did not call me once? Or the fact that he took all these numbers from FAN, and when they all played against his view of what would happen, meaning pro Dog and anti-Mike, he dropped them?

"Now I’m not going to sit here and read them to you. But you can look them up. They’re public record. I’m not trying to run Dog down. I’m trying to tell you, those are facts. And business is very good, and I can sit here and do this by myself for as long as I want, whether someone likes it or not. And I’m not going to, because I don’t want to. But you know what, enough’s enough. During this whole thing all I did was come to work, and I got hammered.

"Back after this."

Add new comment

advertisement | advertise on am New York

Neil Best on Twitter

advertisement | advertise on am New York