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

Mike Francesa says weight is 'fair game, absolutely'

wfan_mike_f.htmIn 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."I’m going to be totally honest about this: I think I’m tougher than most; I really do," he said.

"I don’t react often to criticism, and I get criticized plenty, which I understand. Listen, I’m a big target, a big target. I’ve 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 I’m ever, ever offended by it is if it’s 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 don’t care about that. That doesn’t bother me. That never offends me. That’s who I am. Even for the kids out there, and I always think of the bloggers as young kids, that’s fine, let them have their fun.

"Some of them are talented, some aren’t. That’s the way life is. Some are clever, some aren’t. Some are mean-spirited, some aren’t. But make it about me. That’s the only thing I ever say.

"I’m fair game, and my weight is fair game, absolutely. Appearance is fair game. We’re in the public eye. I’m on TV, so appearance is fair game. I don’t think that’s unfair.

"Now, I don’t think you should do that to a woman. But for guys, I think we’re fair game. For women, I think you have to be gentlemanly about it. I’m old school on that. When it comes to women and kids, I’m old school. That’s just the way I am.

"Weight isn’t my issue, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent my adult life fat. So weight isn’t my issue.’’

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