mike francesa
Peter Ackermann | Asbury Park Press

Mike Francesa praises “First Take” host Stephen A. Smith.

Mike Francesa doesn’t throw around praise very often. Unless it’s for Mickey Mantle, John Beilein, or the bread at Shake Shack, Mike could take it or leave it, okay?

But the retired WFAN host took to Twitter to give Stephen A. SmithChris “Mad Dog” Russo‘s new sparring partner on Wednesdays — a vote of approval. According to Francesa, “[Smith] would have been a very wise choice,” to replace Mad Dog.

Love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny the parallels between Smith’s “First Take” and “Mike and the Mad Dog.” It’s about two big personalities locking horns on the biggest sports topics of the day.

Of course, on television, the topics tend to be more ridiculous and the debates always seem a little more over the top. But that might just be my recency bias creeping in. Francesa and Mad Dog could muck it up with each other on basically any topic. Who could forget their heated argument about going to the bathroom in Yankee Stadium?

Francesa’s tweet is a behind-the-scenes detail about the breakup of “Mike and the Mad Dog” but it’s also a vote of confidence for Smith.

“First Take” on Wednesdays has become must-see television and it’s due almost entirely to the chemistry between Mad Dog and SAS. Like I said earlier this week, these two are at their best when they have a worthy opponent.

Even if you don’t like Mad Dog and Smith, it’s hard to change the channel. In fact, hate-watching or hate-listening to a program is nothing new for Mad Dog.


NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.