Mike Francesa may have as many loyal listeners as he does critics. If one thing is certain, the Sports Pope will go down as a New York legend.

New York’s “Numbah One” has had a career filled with many things such as accolades, controversy, eruptions and the best radio partnership the city has ever seen. If you were to ask the Sports Pope himself, he might tell you differently–ratings, longevity, paychecks, uhkay? Opinions will vary on the longtime talk show host but it’s hard to debate that Mike Francesa was nothing short of a New York icon.

When Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo started 30 years ago, they had no idea they would produce the best talk radio many of us had ever heard. The north and south shores of Long Island collided to give us accents thick enough that only folks in the tri-state area could truly appreciate, but dialogue that all fans could connect with.

When Mike and the Mad Dog split in 2008, the show’s direction was cloudy. Almost a decade later, it’s no secret that WFAN has survived if not thrived. Just ask Michael Kay about the ratings.

Mike’s heard of loyal listeners, who sometimes go by the alias Mongo Nation, will enter a cold, strange world during the afternoon drive of December 18th. Life after Francesa will be a strange one, especially when the stark realization that he won’t be taking to the airwaves at one o’clock next week.

Francesa wasn’t perfect, but don’t tell him that because he’ll probably ask to compare resumes. “What do you do for a living?” was the question most commonly asked to those who went the insult route–if you come at the king, you best not miss.

The Sports Pope provided instant entertainment without even knowing it. There was nothing quite like hearing a caller spew something completely ridiculous just to have Mike refer to the Mongo as a clown. “You waited an hour just to be a fool?” Oh Mike, ignorance is truly bliss.

The Mongos–whether Mike likes to admit it or not–gave the show an element of surprise unmatched elsewhere in the radio industry. There is a reason why Twitter accounts like @OrdioMongo and @BackAftaThis and many others (who are must follows, if you don’t already) are so popular.

What the audience might miss most about New York’s top show is the cold open on Monday afternoons. Ben McAdoo benched Eli Manning? The Mets got swept by a last place team at home? Kyle Orton has the game of his life against the Jets? You best believe Mount Francesa was going to erupt.

Those rants, that passion–is an ability that only few hosts have. The way Mike can express frustration and simultaneously connect with the common fan is one of the most notable aspects of the show. Francesa manages to eloquently put into words what the common fan is thinking–something that won’t easily be replaced.

For as much knowledge and genuine insight that Francesa has provided over the years, the mistakes are internet gold. “I nevah said that” is a phrase we’ve all heard. A lot.

The above clip is just one of what seems like an infinite number of instances where Francesa denies what he previously said. This is  probably because he’s not on Twitter and doesn’t realize Mongo Nation is here to document his miscues. However, it’s instances like these that only add to the charm of the show.

Although the FAN will never be the same, there is no denying that Francesa has cemented himself as a radio legend. His partnership with Russo led to unprecedented success while his unique following has led to the creation of an annual event at Irving Plaza called Francesacon.

The incendiary meltdowns, heckling callers and Long Island grit that Francesa brought to the show made it one that New York city may never equal.

Pour out a little Diet Coke for the King. Back afta this.

Central jersey born and bred. Monmouth University alumnus. Sports are not games, rather ways of life. Twitter: @Gcam92 Contact: G.Cambareri123@gmail.com