Mike and the Mad Dog Talk Their Radio Exploits, Epic Battles, and ESPN’s ’30 for 30’ Series

Mike and the Mad Dog
 ESPN Films

As Mike “Sports Pope” Francesa puts it, he and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo “were at the epicenter of anything important that happened in sports.”

Now their radio exploits and epic battles are the subject of the latest film in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Unsurprisingly, they were more than willing to talk about it.

Mens Fitness: Were you happy with the film?

Mad Dog: They did a helluva job showing our up­-and­-down relationship and the impact we’ve had on sports broadcasting. But, then, it’s about me, so I’m a little biased.
Mike: It was fine. I’ve always had an acrimonious relationship with ESPN.

How accurately do you think it characterized your relationship?

Mad Dog: If I saw it again, I’d find more to complain about. I wanted more of the warts and stuff, but it showed our dynamic well.
Mike: You’re never gonna capture our relationship in a one­-hour documentary.

Was it hard to watch other broadcasters talk about how ridiculous your fights were?

Mad Dog: We fought over jingles and missed flights and whatever else. That’s who we were.
Mike: They captured our trials and tribu­lations, but it’s more important that they caught the amount of success we had being a transformative influence on sports.

What were your favorite moments in the film?

Mad Dog: The ones that showed us really clicking together, and how close Mike was to my father. My dad loved him.
Mike: It’s more about the big picture for me. There was no event that occurred in this city that we weren’t in the middle of. We had the best seat in the house for 20 years.

How do you think you guys affected the way sports are covered today?

Mad Dog: We proved you could make a living as a sports station. We proved that if you can attract men ages 18 to 49, you can have a huge impact. That didn’t occur before us. If we’d failed, the concept would have failed.
Mike: I used to say sports never reaches a saturation point, but recently I’ve seen the beginning signs that that might finally be happening. And even we can’t help that.

Mike and the Mad Dog premieres on ESPN on July 13 at 8 p.m. ET.