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Mikey, this is a turnoff

I am sick.

It is a work-related disability, but alas, self-induced lunacy is not covered by insurance.

Like a taste tester at a Peeps factory, I overindulged in an otherwise harmless treat, and it soon turned my mind to sticky, marshmallow goo.

The first step in addressing a problem is recognizing it, and this is it:

I listen to "Mike and the Mad Dog" way too much, often all 5½ numbing hours of it.

It seemed like a good idea at first, what with me being a media critic and it being an addiction for many middle-aged men who haven't yet migrated to that confusing new Internet thing.

I know because at least one person complains to me about the show's inanity and insanity almost every day - on the phone, in e-mails or on youth soccer sidelines.

So I in turn complain about Mike Francesa and Chris Russo in print. It's a way to spread the voice of the people and, sure, it's an ego boost to be ripped back on the air at times, most recently Friday!

I overdid it, though. Two fellow media scribes had warned me about this occupational hazard, as did my wife, but I wouldn't listen to them and instead kept listening to, well, you know.

Now, though, with the Super Bowl over and the February blahs at hand, it is time to take stock.

I'm done. It's over.

Listening too much is unfair, not only to you, to me and to therapists whom I might employ in the future but to Francesa and Russo themselves.

The show is best consumed in small doses: in the car while running an errand or changing a diaper or making a Fluffernutter.

Bottom line: It is impossible not to sound like an idiot when you deliver opinionated blabber 27½ hours a week, just as it's impossible not to turn into an idiot if you listen to others do so.

So let's just stipulate some of the timeless verities of the show and be done with it:

Francesa will interrupt guests during interviews. He always will sound as if he knows what he is talking about, and some of the time he will. He will lose patience with callers who don't agree with him.

Russo will make up his own pronunciations for common words and names. He will be clueless about the world around him. He will pick incoherent fights (see Cashman, Brian; and Fainaru-Wada, Mark).

They will agree with each other too often, cozy up to guests they ripped minutes earlier, make inaccurate predictions and boast about the money and connections that distance them from mere commoners.

To which I say: So what?

Are you sure you want sober voices of reason on your radio? Two words: Richard Neer.

Still, as I said, I'm done, and that includes monitoring the message board at, where housebound agoraphobes, as Imus might say, obsessively chart the boys' quirks and foibles.

Oh, I still will report news that comes out of the show, whether an explosive interview with Tom Pecora or M&MD's latest tush-kicking of Dan Patrick in the ratings.

No more gratuitous critiques, though. If you want to publicize your gripes with them, try another media critic. Or start a blog. Or buy an ad. Or call the show and have Francesa dismiss you as a moron.

By all means, though, keep listening. In a vast continent of impossible-to-listen-to radio yakkers, there is something about these jesters that works.

Just keep two things in mind:

Never, ever assume what is said - about history, culture, media or even sports - is based in fact.

And never, ever listen for 5½ hours a day.

Super Bowl stuff

Peyton Manning, the NFL's busiest endorser as it is, passed up the traditional Disney World commercial. It instead went to coach Tony Dungy and running back Dominic Rhodes, who at least got a consolation prize for the MVP award some thought he deserved over Manning ... The Colts did a good job of dousing Dungy with ice water with 20 seconds left but whiffed with a second bucket full of sticky Gatorade. Who was that man in the suit who bore the orange brunt of it? It was Dan Edwards, the Jaguars' VP of communications, who was next to Dungy preparing to escort him through the postgame maze of media duties ... Fans without the connections or money to score Super Bowl tickets enjoyed the sight of thousands of empty seats late in the game as people who had forked over big bucks dodged the rain. It made for a strange atmosphere during the trophy presentation. Even the confetti left early, dragged to the ground by the soppy weather ... A leftover favorite wacky moment from the pregame marathon: ESPN's Chris Berman asked analysts to name their most memorable celebrity- sighting of the week. Mike Ditka bizarrely cited Eli Grba. In case you haven't been studying your Baseball Encyclopedia, he pitched for the Yankees and Angels from 1959-63. Berman doubled over laughing. No one else on the panel had any idea what Ditka was talking about. That's Iron Mike.

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