Then, there is the case of ESPN’s “Sports Guy,” Bill Simmons. The two have been mutual admirers for some time. In a fawning 2006 column Simmons called Mike and the Mad Dog “my favorite radio show ever.” Francesa, in turn, views Simmons as incredibly witty and when Russo left the show in 2008, he even called Simmons to gauge his interest in co-hosting. Since then, Francesa has watched Simmons’s role at ESPN expand from writer and editor to serving as host of his own podcast – The BS Report – and appearing on ESPN’s NBA pregame show, NBA Shootaround. Francesa does not seem to approve.
“When you find something you’re good at, stick with it,” Francesa says – voicing a personal philosophy that runs counter to Simmons’s recent career developments.
“I think what happens in our business is that people get to a certain level, and then they’re like, ‘OK. I have to go prove I can do this now.’ Why? Why can’t you just stay there and do it really well? When you do something well, why can’t you stay there, and perfect it, and prove that you can do it really well?”
In response to a direct question about Simmons, Francesa shares an experience from his own career, illustrating a fundamental difference between the two iconic personalities. “A year-and-a-half into Mike and the Mad Dog, I got offered an enormous TV deal to leave, and I turned it down. It was the best decision I ever made. I could’ve left. But understanding where you belong, and understanding where you’re supposed to be and what you’re good at – I never entertained another serious offer. But I had a very serious offer that was wide in scope, and was a very big opportunity. And I turned it down.”
[Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle, Newsday]