You would think that being the host of the most popular sports radio show in Market No. 1 – as well as the country, per a radio trade publication poll - you would have no issues securing big-name guests.
That is unless you’re Mike Francesa, who as far as ESPN is concerned is Public Enemy No. 1.
The Worldwide Leader has an apparent edict against ESPN-affiliated personalities appearing not just on Francesa’s afternoon drive WFAN/New York radio show, “Mike’s On”, but the station itself. This according to Francesa himself.
This goes beyond the temporary ban of Jets players appearing on his show. We’re talking visible sports figures.
And this week, perhaps one of the most visible sports figures of the 20th century, Bill Parcells – a pal of Francesa’s – has signed on to do a weekly segment on ESPN 98.7/New York’s “The Michael Kay Show” on Thursday afternoons during football season.
Which means the Big Tuna is now part of the Big Ban against WFAN.
“That is something they started about six or seven years ago,” Francesa claims. “They are steadfast about it, even people that I’m close friends with like [ESPN NBA analysts] Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. They are forbidden from being on my show. That’s how far ESPN has taken it.”
Yes, we can all picture ESPN president George Bodenheimer instructing all Worldwide Leader all talent to steer clear of Mike Francesa.
I don’t think it’s that stringent. Remember that oral history of WFAN that Grantland published last month? Did you know Grantland is an ESPN property? Anyway, they approached Francesa numerous times to contribute to their piece, but he turned down each and every request.
So is there really a ban imposed on Mike Francesa by ESPN?
Or could it be the latest in a long line of hallucinations by Mike Francesa?
At any rate, enjoy hearing Bill Parcells’ appearance on Francesa’s WFAN 25th anniversary show earlier this summer – because his presence on the show may very well be a mirage going forward.
Breen… JVG… Et tu, Tuna?