Getting to know Mike Francesa
Francesa was born on March 20, 1954 in Long Beach. He attended Maria Regina High School High School in Uniondale (now known as Kellenberg) and graduated from St. John's University where he majored in communications and athletic administration.
Before joining WFAN, Francesa spent six years at "College & Pro Football Newsweekly" and seven years as a researcher and studio analyst at CBS Sports. Francesa left CBS in 1993.
Francesa joined WFAN in August 1987 as a part-time weekend host shortly after the station launched. WFAN was the first 24-hour all sports radio station.
In 1989, Francesa paired with fellow Long Island native Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo to form "Mike and the Mad Dog." Their first show was Sept. 5 from 3-7 p.m. Although their relationship was tumultuous at times, they set the standard for sports talk radio in New York. One particular battle took place in 1992 while Francesa was on vacation. A solo Mad Dog had Francesa's name taken out of the show's opening jingle.
Francesa a movie star? Not quite, but he did appear with good friend Bill Parcells in a commercial for a New Jersey restaurant called Manny's. Francesa and Parcells began a business partnership in 1991 and owned a few horses. Click here to see the commerical
"Mike and the Mad Dog" were one of the first radio teams to spend a week at "radio row" leading up to the Super Bowl. Their first Super Bowl was in 1990 when the 49ers defeated the Denver Broncos.
Francesa is an avid horseracing fan and owner. He is known to be a successful handicapper, too. In 2001, Francesa earned more than $70,000 for Don Imus' charity at Belmont picking horses as part of a promotion on WFAN.
"Mike and the Mad Dog" shared the same studio with the "Imus in the Morning" show in WFAN's old Astoria headquarters. Imus was a big fan of their show and often had Francesa and Russo on his show. He dubbed them "Fatso and Fruit Loops."
According to Francesa, he was a finalist for the "Monday Night Football" opening that eventually went to Dennis Miller in 2000. ABC did confirm that Francesa was in the running for the position.
After 19 years together, "Mike and the Mad Dog" called it quits on Aug. 14, 2008. After one of their many feuds, Russo decided not to renew his contract and soon signed with Sirius XM Radio. Francesa remained with WFAN, signed a new deal and renamed the show "Mike'd Up: Francesa on the FAN."
During the years, Francesa has had many memorable on-air feuds with notable sports figures and athletes. One of the more recent feuds was with Tiki Barber when Francesa called his broadcasting career a failure. In 2002, Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey had a weekly spot on WFAN but would call late or completely miss his spot with "Mike and the Mad Dog." Shockey predicted Francesa would have a heart attack. "I'll be here in New York doing what I do long after he is forgotten in this town," Francesa said of the situation.