After a four-month retirement, Mike Francesa says it's time for him to go back to WFAN.
1. Only a man nicknamed the Sports Pope would try to pull this off. Legendary WFAN radio host Mike Francesa, who hung up his microphone in December after announcing his retirement 19 months earlier, has gone on the record Tuesday to say it’s time he returns to the New York radio station and it looks like that's what's going to happen.
“This is for those who started this campaign in recent days,” Francesa told Newsday’s Neil Best. “I didn’t decide to go back to WFAN until I was told I better not go back. For those behind it, that was the moment I decided to return. I will do everything to work WFAN into an integral part of the project. It is time to return to WFAN.”
Obviously, this bizarre statement leads to a lot of questions.
First and foremost, what campaign and who started it? I have no answers to that one, but hopefully we find out because if that statement is true, then this really becomes an insane story. You’d have a 64-year-old radio host who was making $3-4 million a year come out of his four-month retirement only because he was told he better not go back to a job. Wild stuff.
According to the Daily News, the show that replaced Francesa, hosted by Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, will still be around, just in a different time slot.
This should make for a pretty awkward work environment at WFAN.
Think about it. Mike knew he was leaving WFAN for 19 months. He did his last show in December. He said due to contractual reasons, he couldn’t announce his next gigs until April 1. April 1 came and Mike had no gigs, no announcement.
I was told by a source that Mike was offered a three-day-a-week job at Sirius (Monday and Fridays with his old partner, Chris Russo, and a Sunday morning NFL show). Mike turned it down because of the money. Mike also hired an agent during this process. For years and years, Mike did not have an agent. Still, April 1 came and Mike had nothing. New York City has only one other all-sports station besides WFAN — ESPN New York. Mike has said numerous times over the years that he’d never work there. He’s had a longstanding feud with ESPN because the network banned its people from appearing on his show. That left Mike with few options.
Now he says, after being away for four months, “it’s time” he goes back to WFAN. It's almost as if Mike knew he shouldn't have left the station, but he had already made a big announcement and a farewell tour was planned and he couldn't back out of it, so he had to leave no matter what.
And now he's supposedly back. The question is, will he reveal any details of the "campaign" he brought up or was that just made up to blunt the criticism he will receive for ending his retirement after four months and bumping the show that replaced him?
Best, along with New York Post reporter Andrew Marchand, who broke the story about Francesa plotting a return to WFAN and joined a brand new episode of the SI Media Podcast to discuss the entire Francesa/WFAN saga, beginning at the 51-minute mark. Listen below or download the podcast on iTunes.
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IN CLOSING: All this Mike Francesa stuff is useless without some form of a Mike and the Mad Dog reunion.