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

Chris Russo confirms recent feud with Mike Francesa

(Credit: Watchdog)

Click below for the complete transcript of Chris Russo's opening monologue on WFAN this afternoon, in which he confirms that he and Mike Francesa feuded for much of the spring, reiterates that both hosts are under contract and confirms again that he never will forgive me for my negative review of his book two years ago.

(A clarification: I did not review his first book because I was not a sports media critic at the time.)All right, let me get this out of the way, quickly, because if we’re going to dwell on this for the next 5½ hours, we can’t do that. Not enough people care. It’s not that important. In the middle of making sure a 2-year-old doesn’t walk into the deep end of the New Canaan Field Club pool and trying to make sure [my son] ate his chicken nuggets and [my daughter] had her grilled cheese, and I try to lament me losing a tennis match 3-3 in the third set, missing overhead after overhead against [my opponent], Neil Best gives me a call on Saturday night, quarter to six.

First thing he tells me, "I hear the show is breaking up, can you comment?" It was the first I’ve ever heard of that, and Neil, who I like, nice guy, although he did trash my book, which drives me nuts, the "Mad Dog Hall of Fame" book, killed it, killed it, after he didn’t praise the first one. Killed it. But that’s neither here nor there.

I said, "Neil, that’s news to me," and I basically gave Neil Best of Newsday the quote that you’ve read and it still sticks, and that’s the basis of these four or five minutes here, and that’s the fact that I have a contract here at WFAN that runs for an extended period of time. It’s not up on July 2. It’s not up on Labor Day. And it’s not up on my birthday, it’s not up Christmas time, it’s not up at the Super Bowl. It’s not even up at the Final Four.

So this idea that somehow our program that we’ve had fun having done it for 19, 20 years, is on the verge of being dismantled caught me totally by surprise, totally by surprise. Now obviously when you are in this position you have negotiations that have to take place for both sides, Mike included, and sometimes there’s always a hiccup along the way, so people start to think, oh, boy, Chris isn’t rushing to do this or Mike’s not rushing to do that, and then everybody jumps to conclusions, looking to find issues between the two of us as the trigger point of why the show no longer will be the case.

And in this case that trigger point happens to be the quote unquote deteriorating relationship that supposedly Mike and I have been undergoing here for the better part of three or four months, which is not entirely accurate, and let me set the record straight on that. From Easter through May 9, Friday, Molly Russo’s birthday, Easter, right around that period, to May 9, Mike and I were having a lot of issues. If you’re a listener, I don’t have to tell you. Whether it’s Yankee Stadium, good or bad, whether it was David Ortiz-Manny Ramirez, whether it was Don Nelson Hall of Fame, not Hall of Fame, Shaq with Phoenix, Yunel Escobar with the Braves, you name it, we were fighting like cats and dogs.

Hey, our show, I have to take a good part of that responsibility. We were fighting like cats and dogs. The tolerance level of each other, Mike to me, me to Mike, was low. When that tolerance level is low like it is with your wife or your kids, you’re going to have some issues. So from that period to May 9, issues. After I took Sal LaCotta to Lake Compounce on that Sunday, Mother’s Day, with four little kids, Mark Chernoff, our program director calls me up and says, "Listen, can we talk tomorrow? Let’s get this straightened out."

After some initial balking by yours truly, I said, you know what, absolutely. We came down the next day, Mark brought us into his office, Mike and I. I apologized for acting like an idiot at times, Mike did the same thing. Next thing you know we’re back on the same page. So, although we had the occasional skirmish since, I can think of that show at the Belmont with the Manny Ramirez-Youkilis fight, and all those kinds of things, although we’ve had the occasional skirmishes – Spurs, we had a lot of fights on the Spurs – although we had occasional skirmishes, from May 11 or 12 to last Wednesday, I don’t think there was really any problem.

Now was it as good as it may have been in the heyday as far as relationships are concerned? No, because we were killing each other for six weeks. It’s going to take a little while to get back to the same page. So that’s No. 1. Deteriorating relationship? I don’t feel that. Maybe before May 12 I did, but I certainly didn’t feel that from May 12 on. So this theory that, ah, now I know why! They’re leaving! They hate each other! I don’t buy that. Nineteen, 20 years, you’re going to have your issues occasionally. You have to get through those issues.

Now listen, I mean, does that mean Mike’s going to sign a 20-year contract extension with WFAN? Probably not. Does that mean that Christopher Russo is going to sign a 20-year contract extension with WFAN? Probably not. Do I want to work 20 more years doing this? Probably not, probably not. But does that mean that last Wednesday was our last ever show together? That’s a little strong. That’s a little strong. That’s taking a big leap.

And, you know, Neil Best thinks he has something and he’s a good reporter and I like Neil. Again, I would never talk to him about anything like this because for whatever the reason, this is a guy who killed my book. That’s sensitive to authors, and don’t forget, I’m John Grisham. That’s sensitive.

I’ve talked to him about it, but I don’t forget that. He went out of his way to bury that book, same day I was on the Today show. C’mon. But listen, Neil thinks he has something, so he’s going to track me down in the middle of a weekend and he’s going to track Mike down in the middle of a weekend and he’s going to write something. But unless WFAN is going to pull the plug on yours truly, and that’s their right, you are renting their equipment, I don’t see how in the world this show is up by July 10. What’s the date I’m hearing now? July 11 or 12? I don’t see where that’s coming from.

Again, we are under contract. WFAN and Mike and Chris are not stupid. WFAN needs us. You know, everyone is replaceable. We’ve learned that. But they’d like to have us on. We have been doing it for 19, 20 years, and I’m not stupid. This is a great job. I need FAN. Again, that doesn’t mean tomorrow or the next day or whenever that I’m going to put my signature or Mike on a 20-year contract extension. You play it out and see what happens. But I have been here for 20 years. Twenty years. I’ve signed a million contracts with the radio station and I’ve never had an issue of walking out before one was completed.

And this one has a long way to go on it. OK. Can I get my parking spot back now, please? Can I get that back? And Neil is in a tough spot now because Neil is trying to come up with something and he’s put himself out there and I don’t know what he’s going to come up with exactly. He can write all the stories he wants, he can call me 30,000 times. And again, I like him. Good man. Good worker. Works hard. But I don’t know what he’s got exactly. What? That Mike and I are splitting up. Says who? Tell FAN that.

Contracts. Contracts. Contracts. You abide by contracts. Mine’s got a long, long way to go, not to mention that quote unquote non-compete clause following it. You’re never going to get rid of me here. OK, we get that out of the way.

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