What if I told you, for 19 years, sports fans were treated to the unmatched chemistry and hard hitting interviews of Mike Francesa and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo on New York’s WFAN? Following the premiere of ESPN’s upcoming 30 for 30: Mike and the Mad Dog at the Tribeca Film Festival, the duo is hinting at a possible reunion in the realm of sports talk. Entertainment Weekly spoke to Francesa and Russo about the film and chances at a return to partnership.
That’s not to say that the split in 2008 wasn’t mutual. Since then, the duo has reunited a handful of times on one another’s shows. Last year’s Radio City Music Hall reunion featured a who’s who of New York sports figures, with Mike Coughlin, Joe Torre, Mark Messier, and others dropping in to talk. That event might have played a role along with the 30 for 30 screening.
Francesa has had his own show on WFAN since 2008, but with his contract’s expiration in December of this year the Mike’d Up host doesn’t know what comes next. “It’s a good time to leave, there’s nothing else to do that I haven’t done. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I want to do something. And I have to admit, the other day, [Russo] did this thing where he talked about it, where he did this interview. And it’s been brought up a lot since Radio City, and to be honest with you, I don’t know what’s going to happen, in all seriousness. But would I listen if something was brought up about Mike and the Mad Dog, or Mike and the Mad Dog 2.0? Yeah, why not? I think it would be fun. I really do.”
The pair’s sometimes hostile nature towards one another is the key concept behind the upcoming ESPN documentary, directed by Daniel H. Forer (Free Spirits, Touched by an Angel) chronicles the two from their beginning in the late 80s to the eventual 2008 break up. One such argument regarding a remote trip that led to six months of not speaking features prominently. With their role as pioneers on WFAN, New York’s first all-sports station, it can be assumed that their contributions toward what is now a billion dollar enterprise will also be highlighted.
Nothing is set in stone regarding a regular program together, but Francesa and Russo are at least warmed up to the idea. Russo told Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gray “I wouldn’t rule it out… if Mike wanted to orchestrate some sort of renewal you know… I would do it.” He also told Entertainment Weekly “…you miss the give-and-take of the serious sports discussion,” when asked about his memories of the show.
ESPN’s Mike and the Mad Dog debuts July 15.