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Mike Francesa: 'I was never asleep'

WFAN long-time radio host Mike Francesa on June

WFAN long-time radio host Mike Francesa on June 19, 2012. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Mike Francesa, perky and seemingly well-rested, opened his show on WFAN on Thursday with his version of a widely viewed video that appeared to show him nodding off on the air Monday.

"I was never asleep," he said. "I promise you."

Francesa, 58, acknowledged that he did close his eyes during a phone discussion with the station's Yankees reporter, Sweeny Murti, after having not slept the night before.

He said he spent the previous night tending to his son, Jack, who suffered an exercise-induced asthma attack. He said he also had had a long day and night Sunday, the first full day of the NFL season.

"I was exhausted," he said. "I've done that many times through the years. Twenty-five years, I can tell you, not just when my kids were born. Many times. I mean, Dog [Chris Russo] and I did 25 hours in a row. There were many nights where I've come in here and not slept all night and done a show.

"Maybe I have to never try that again at this stage because I was exhausted late in the show. But I can promise you this: I did close my eyes during the Sweeny interview for a minute and it was on TV and that's become this big bone of contention because I guess everything we do on this show does.

"But I can promise you as you can go listen to the interview, I was never asleep. I promise you. And I promise I'll never close my eyes again nor will I come in without sleeping because my wife says you can't do that anymore."

On the video from his YES simulcast, Francesa is seen lowering his head as Murti speaks, then suddenly jolts upward with his eyes wide open, seemingly disoriented. That led to a widespread assumption he had nodded off.

Francesa said he was inclined to ignore the ensuing Internet frenzy, saying, "It's nobody's business," but that his wife and Mark Chernoff, WFAN's operations manager, convinced him to discuss the matter on the air.

"Since it now has become a story, that is what happened," he said. "I promise you I will come in having gotten my rest, but you can't help it as a parent. It happens. And we've had two or three of those over the summer. He gets these attacks at night once in a while."

Francesa said he had appointments before the show Tuesday that he could have canceled to get some sleep but did not.

Francesa ended his account of the incident by saying, "Enough on this nonsense. Let's get back to doing what we do, which is not talking about this nonsense, but talking about sports and what we do and I think we do better than anybody else."

New York Sports