Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Mike Francesa says weight is 'fair game, absolutely'
In a blog promo that accompanied my Sunday newspaper column, I promised to post 7,500-plus words from my interview with Mike Francesa last week.
Well, I've decided to (partially) renege, in the interests of clarity and sanity. But I'll still share most of it over the next day or two.
Let's start with this: I asked Francesa how he reacts to the harsh public criticism he often takes, from newspapers (including in my column) to blogs to message boards and beyond, including unkind remarks about his weight.
Click below to read what he said."Im going to be totally honest about this: I think Im tougher than most; I really do," he said.
"I dont react often to criticism, and I get criticized plenty, which I understand. Listen, Im a big target, a big target. Ive been very successful, I do well, and I am very cocky about what I do, so I understand that I am a great target. People want to see me fail. I understand all that, and God bless them.
The only time Im ever, ever offended by it is if its totally inaccurate where no one ever checked. Or if it has to do with my family, which I think is totally out of bounds. If someone wants to make an enemy, mention my wife or mention my kids. Other than that, if you say something about me, how I performed on the air, I have no problem with that.
What about when the criticism gets personal, including jokes about appearance? (Francesa remains overweight, but said he has lost 70 pounds since his peak about 18 months ago.)
I dont care about that. That doesnt bother me. That never offends me. Thats who I am. Even for the kids out there, and I always think of the bloggers as young kids, thats fine, let them have their fun.
"Some of them are talented, some arent. Thats the way life is. Some are clever, some arent. Some are mean-spirited, some arent. But make it about me. Thats the only thing I ever say.
"Im fair game, and my weight is fair game, absolutely. Appearance is fair game. Were in the public eye. Im on TV, so appearance is fair game. I dont think thats unfair.
"Now, I dont think you should do that to a woman. But for guys, I think were fair game. For women, I think you have to be gentlemanly about it. Im old school on that. When it comes to women and kids, Im old school. Thats just the way I am.
"Weight isnt my issue, otherwise I wouldnt have spent my adult life fat. So weight isnt my issue.