We never disputed Joe Benigno’s status as a WFAN legend. But he has his place in the station’s pantheon for a reason, and no one would have argued he was a true ‘FAN immortal.

That all said: Boy, has this unexpected Benigno run been a lot of fun. You figured he was gone to the golf course for good when he retired in 2020. And then he returned last year to work weekends and occasional shifts and now, despite still being semi-retired and thanks in large part to the star-crossed Jets, he has become one of WFAN’s real bright spots. We would even argue he is more entertaining now than he was as a full-time voice.

Benigno shoving Tiki Barber into a locker the other day was the best thing the current afternoon drive program has done. Which is not saying much, but still. Benigno’s apparent buddy-cop routine with Jets coach Robert Saleh has so much potential. His rants are superb as always. And this 70th birthday photo!

This belongs in the Smithsonian. The “HOPE” sign is just too perfect.

We always said that Mike Francesa’s best purpose in retirement was to be New York sports’ Tom Brokaw — present when he was needed. We were a bit off, because his podcast has developed into a good product and we are getting just the right amount of the big guy each week. There is room for more Francesa than we initially thought.  And now we are getting the exact right amount of Benigno, too. He’s like New York sports’ Bob Hope now. That’s not a perfect comparison, but you get what we mean.  Back after this.

Mets’ Brandon Nimmo officially the best Wyoming player in MLB history
We have more details about Yankees’ shadowy third-party audit
Shohei Ohtani free agency: Mets, not Yankees, among 5 contenders
Jets do something to instill belief they won’t let Zach Wilson torpedo them
Nets’ Ben Simmons is fully healthy, ready to be ‘unleashed’ this season

James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

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.