WFAN Needs to Cut Ties With Francesa

Published on: 27th September, 2013


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Francesa sleeping during on-air set with Sweeny Murti  | read this item

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New York — The latest controversy surrounding Mike Francesa, the afternoon drive-time talk show host for New York’s leading sports radio station, seems to be part of a continuing series of negative events for the 5 million dollar per year veteran.

The newest issue involves Carl Banks, the former Pro Bowl linebacker for the New York Giants, who expressed disappointment to Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News that Francesa had attributed the word, quit, to Banks’ post-game comments of how the Giants played in their putrid 38-0 loss to Carolina last Sunday.

Banks did not pull any punches after watching that debacle.

He implored the Giants to “be tired of getting your butts whipped” and said they “are totally accepting this beatdown.” Banks expressed similar opinions during other radio appearances this week, including his regular one on WFAN’s “Benigno and Roberts Show.”

But, nowhere in Banks’ comments did the word, quit, appear.

Yet for Francesa, Banks words were not strong enough. Why else would Francesa claim Banks said the Giants “quit?” Why else would he attribute a word to him that he never used? Was Francesa throwing his voice, playing ventriloquist to a Banks puppet?

 “Mike went on the radio and told Eli (Manning) that I said the team quit. I never said that. I know the difference,” Banks told Raissman. “If I thought they quit I would have said they quit. I said they didn’t show enough fight.”

Francesa, in his regularly scheduled Monday interview with Eli Manning, brought up Banks’ commentary, saying: “He thought the Giant team quit in the second half. What are your thoughts about that?”

Banks is "disappointed" with Francesa of WFAN

Banks is “disappointed” with Francesa of WFAN

The former Giants linebacker was listening to the interview. He called the studio. “I told him (Francesa’s producer), when Mike was on the air, to let Mike know those aren’t my words. The producer said they could check it because they had the transcript (of Banks’ Benigno/Roberts interview),” Banks said. “But he (Francesa) continued to go on and never corrected it. He just took the opportunity to throw it (the quit accusation) out there.”

Banks said Tara Sullivan, sports columnist for The Record, did the same thing. During a Coughlin press conference, she told the coach Banks had said the Giants “quit.” When Sullivan found out Banks never said the Giants “quit,” she apologized to Banks via Twitter (“…. Shouldn’t have used the word ‘quit’ when describing his comments”).

“I told her, ‘Don’t apologize to me. Tell Tom Coughlin that it wasn’t what I said.’ I can walk in that building (the Giants practice facility) and know everything I said I own,” Banks told Raissman. “I didn’t speak French. I didn’t speak any other language. I didn’t need a translator or interpreter.”

Banks said he wasn’t angry over people attaching comments to him that he never made. In this business we eventually find out it’s an occupational hazard.

Now, on Friday afternoon’s show, Francesa is defending his use of the word, quit, as an accurate depiction of how Banks described the Giants performance in Carolina.

“He said everything that means quit,” Francesa said. “Even if he didn’t say the actual word, his descriptions of the Giants effort said quit, loudly and clearly.”

Francesa has been a lightning rod for a few years now, with as many sports radio listeners seemingly disliking his style as those who do. Despite his dominance in ratings in the New York market, listeners and fellow media types seem to enjoy tweaking the host, who has developed a reputation for being less than respectful of his listeners opinions as well as media colleagues. His ratings success may be based on a paucity of competition from ESPN radio, the only other sports talk station in New York.

Last year, during an on-air chat with Sweeny Murti, the FAN’s beat reporter for the Yankees, Francesa fell asleep while Murti was speaking. Had a producer not screamed in Francesa’s earpiece to wake up, it would have been a long snooze for Francesa, leaving Murti to talk to no one.

Two major league teams in the market Francesa serves, the Mets and the Jets, will not speak to Francesa on-air unless, in the case of Mets manager Terry Collins, they are contractually committed to do so. Darrelle Revis, then the star cornerback for the Jets, hung up on Francesa during a live interview in October, 2011.

Francesa, who has been highly critical of the Jets under coach Rex Ryan, said Revis “mugged” Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall during a game before intercepting a pass and returning it 100 yards for a touchdown.

“I didn’t mug Brandon Marshall. No, no, no,” Revis said.

But Francesa refused to relent. He kept badgering Revis, saying it was a penalty. After several minutes of back and forth, Revis became agitated.

“You[‘re] good at interviewing,” Revis said. “I’m good at what I do. Just leave it at that. … That’s your opinion. Have you ever been out on that field?”

Francesa then pointed out former NFL coach and “Monday Night Football” analyst Jon Gruden said Revis committed pass interference on the play during the game.

“I don’t care who said it,” Revis said. “Jon Gruden, you, whoever. I don’t care.”

At this point, Jets public relations director Jared Winley came on the line and told Revis to stop.

“This is why no one wants to get interviewed by you,” Revis said.

This is evidently an opinion many players and sports executives share about Francesa. If the $5 million man cannot get access to the teams in his own market, it appears the only reason to turn him on is if one is interested in listening to his decidedly non-expert opinions, without the benefit of having access to the people he is paid to cover.

Francesa sleeping during on-air set with Sweeny Murti

Francesa sleeping during on-air set with Sweeny Murti

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