Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo set the internet ablaze Wednesday when he revealed ESPN cuts him a $10,000 check for each of his weekly “First Take” appearances.
WFAN morning show co-host Boomer Esiason thinks that’s a bargain.
“That maniac has already elevated that show,” Esiason said Thursday. “He should be paid triple that. He should be paid what (new Monday Night Football analyst) Troy Aikman is making. Because he’s actually brought some flavor alongside Stephen A. Smith, someone that can finally go along with him that’s as loony as he is.”
Russo let his weekly rate slip during an interview with Howard Stern on Sirius XM. Russo said he is committed to do 40 appearances. So the WFAN legend and Radio Hall of Fame nominee will make $400,000 total as part of his his current agreement with ESPN.
Co-host Gregg Giannotti broached the subject during the 9 a.m. hour, joking that ESPN executives must be livid with Russo for revealing his salary. Giannotti said the information — and the possible fallout with other employees it could create — must be an “unneeded hassle” for the network.
“Anyone who has ever been around Chris says the same thing that you just did: ‘What are you doing?’” Esiason said.
Russo has experienced a career renaissance of sorts since landing the ESPN gig. His pairing with Smith has proven wildly entertaining and popular. It has also introduced him to a national audience that was not as familiar with his halcyon days with Mike Francesa.
Russo is trending on Twitter within minutes of each weekly broadcast beginning. And he and Smith go viral with their rants regularly. From an engagement and exposure standpoint alone, Russo is almost assuredly well worth the $10,000 he is paid each week by ESPN. He’d probably even be worth $30,000 every Wednesday if they’d give it to him.
“He’s an entertainer,” Esiason said. “That’s what he gets paid.”
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]