Mike Francesa has said for more than a decade that he does not listen to his counterparts on WFAN’s morning program, but he listened long enough on Tuesday to inspire an angry phone call to co-hosts Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti.
The shocking, seven-minute call at around 8:50 a.m. began with Francesa confirming it was indeed him on the phone – producer Al Dukes was not initially certain – then saying, “How much misinformation can you guys give out in five minutes?”
At one point, Francesa shouted at Giannotti, “You do your show, I’ll do mine. OK? But if you’re going to quote me, quote me correctly. You spend enough time talking about me and spend enough time imitating me. At least get it right.”
In November, Francesa said on the air that the morning show “stinks” and that Giannotti is “short on ability,” which led Giannotti to fire back on his own show the next day.
Francesa, who has been hard on the Giants since they drafted quarterback Daniel Jones in the first round on Thursday, took issue with how Esiason and Giannotti characterized his relationship with the team and his take on their draft.
Before Francesa called in, Giannotti had talked about how Francesa’s alleged relationship with general manager Dave Gettleman seemed to have gone sour in recent days, and Esiason had called Francesa’s remarks on the shooting of sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine “idiotic.”
When Francesa came on, he said he does not know Gettleman personally, and said the Giants were upset with him last week for his characterization of Eli Manning’s decision no longer to appear weekly on Francesa’s show during the season.
Francesa said he was told that Manning thought it might be embarrassing to come on if he were not the starting quarterback at some point during the season.
Francesa said that contrary to Giannotti’s assertion, he was not mad at Gettleman for keeping information from him, but rather that he simply disagreed with the Giants’ decision to draft Jones while keeping Manning on the roster.
He seemed even more upset that Esiason and Giannotti thought he was jumping to conclusions about the circumstances surrounding the shooting that injured Ballentine and killed his friend.
“About the young player who was shot, you didn’t say that I opened up my comment with, ‘This could happen to any player on any team in any organization in any sport or anywhere in life, and if it turns out that he was in the wrong place or was doing something wrong, the Giants will look embarrassed because they made such an issue of character.’ I said ‘if.’ I said we have no facts and I’ve been trying to get facts.
“That’s how I opened it up. How about you guys mention that before killing me for what I said?”
When asked why he would bring up the negative scenario at all, Francesa said, “What I said was the Giants went out and stressed that we were bringing in the right guys. ‘We didn’t have the right guys before.’ I said this could be very iffy if it proves that this kid was doing something wrong or was in the wrong place ... I said ‘if.’ We have no information. That’s how I opened it up.”
Giannotti noted that he and Esiason had quoted Francesa correctly, to which Francesa said, “Yeah, except you took it completely out of context. Why don’t you say the whole thing? ... The way you said it you made it look like I completely slaughtered him and said there wasn’t a chance that they didn’t do anything wrong, which I said exactly at the open.”
After Francesa hung up, Giannotti said that the call was a good thing, in that such discussions are the right way to handle a sports talk radio dispute.
Francesa did not discuss the call to the morning show when his afternoon show began but did so when a caller brought it up about a half-hour in. He said he was listening to the morning show while he was driving his son and believed that he heard two “utter lies” from Esiason and Giannotti.
“There was not one bit of truth in anything they said,” he told the caller.
When the caller wondered why Francesa did not open his show with the subject, he said, “Bob, you let me run the show. You want your own show, go get one, then you can do your show your way . . . I don’t need controversy to sell my show. I don’t need fake, trumped-up arguments between shows to sell my show. I don’t do that. So I don’t care about that stuff . . . I’m not going to open my show talking about me. I’m not going to do that. It’s just not who I am.”
Francesa said he was pleased to learn that Ballentine and his friend, Dwane Simmons, appeared to be innocent bystanders in the shooting that killed Simmons over the weekend, adding the most important thing now is mourning Simmons’ death.