The best deal in sports television — albeit one that will end soon — is CBS’ contract to air SEC football games. The network pays $50 million annually for the best conference’s best games. It’s highway robbery.

Enter ESPN, which is now getting the steal of the century with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo’s weekly stipend to co-host “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith. Russo told Howard Stern he is getting paid $10,000 each Wednesday, and he is under contract to do 40 appearances (wonder what a podcast costs?).

That has to be the best $400,000 the worldwide leader has ever spent. They probably make their money back within the first 15 minutes of each telecast. Russo is trending on Twitter every week like clockwork, followed by an avalanche of content everywhere you turn. America cannot get enough of Russo. Hopefully the distinguished voters of the Radio Hall of Fame are paying attention to the WFAN legend’s hot streak.

OK, onto Russo’s latest top-5 rankings. The best quarterback-tight end duos in NFL history, in honor of Rob Gronkowski’s latest retirement.

Let’s get this straight. Tom Brady is the best quarterback in history. We think Gronkowski is the best tight end in league history, but we will concede there are arguments otherwise. Still … No. 5? That’s a bad job by you, Doggie. Very poorly produced.

I’m OK with Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow Sr. being at the top. I don’t agree with it, but I can live with it. I can also deal with John Mackey and Johnny Unitas being ahead of Brady and Gronkowski. But get out of here with Kenny Stabler and Dave Casper.

First Russo leaves Boston off his top-5 sports cities. Now he’s screwing Brady and Gronkowski. I’m all for trolling Beantown, but you need to keep some integrity in your sports debating. This is serious stuff.

James Kratch can be reached at


James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.