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Mike Francesa says his WFAN departure after 2017 is not a negotiating move

Mike Francesa talks with guest host Bill Simmons

Mike Francesa talks with guest host Bill Simmons (not pictured) during Francesa's show at the WFAN studios in Manhattan on Monday, May 16, 2016. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Mike Francesa said many people still do not believe he will leave WFAN when his contract expires at the end of 2017, but he said on Monday he has had no second thoughts and already is in the early stages of planning his final year.

“[Don] Imus was quoted the other day as saying it’s not going to happen and guys have written stories saying that it’s a negotiating ploy,” he said before a show on which Bill Simmons joined him as guest co-host. “It’s not a negotiating ploy. We have not negotiated. We’re not negotiating. I never even considered anything from that standpoint.

“I am leaving on that date. Nothing has changed there. And I think the company has completely come to grips with that now. I think they understand that.”

Francesa first said more than three years ago that he would leave WFAN when his contract expires at the end of 2017, but it was not until he said it to Fox’s Katie Nolan four months ago that most people believed he would follow through.

Even though Francesa said “everything seems normal now,” he anticipated that after he returns from his summer vacation the approaching end of his time at the station will start to hit home.

Already there have been preliminary discussions with management about how to handle 2017, including several on-location shows from venues that wanted to book one last visit.

“Once I hit January it’s going to feel very different,” he said. “Once I realize I’m doing everything for the last time. I’m going to the Super Bowl next year; I’ve already agreed to do that. That’s one thing they asked me to do and I already said yes.”

The trick is acknowledging the final lap without overdoing it. Most of the time, the shows will remain focused on current events.

“I hear a lot from fans wherever I go,” he said. “They say, ‘Oh, don’t leave, don’t leave.’ I tell them, ‘I’ve got 18 months.’ I’ve tried to downplay that end of it a lot, not to talk about it. I know there’s going to be a lot of it the last year, but the last year we’ll deal with it.

“I’m not going to dwell on it. I think we’ll do a normal show. There might be a couple of stops that we make that will be considered . . . There are already some [remotes] on the map booked that we’re going to do, but it’s not like we’re going to do a stop every week.”

There has been no indication what the station will do for a replacement. Francesa does not expect to have any input, but he reiterated what he has said before – that first dibs should go to the midday team of Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno.

“Once Dog [Chris Russo] took himself out of it, which he has, I think the midday guys should get the first crack,” he said. “It’s not my place, and I don’t know what Joe’s future is. Joe’s older than I am, so he might have a different plan.

“But I think Evan, obviously, has earned that right. I don’t expect to have anything to say on how they’re going to do it. I don’t expect to, nor do I think I deserve it.”

New York Sports