Mike Francesa in ESPN's "Mike and the Mad Dog"

Mike Francesa in ESPN's "Mike and the Mad Dog"

ESPN/ESPN

In September 1989 WFAN in New York tried an experiment. Station management paired Mike Francesa, a working class know-it-all, with Chris Russo, a hyperactive loose cannon. Both men had sports knowledge oozing from their pores, and before anyone knew what hit, Mike and the Mad Dog were born. Their oil and water alchemy yielded gold. Their show redefined what sports radio could be - informed, passionate, local - and spawned imitators in every corner of the country.

Now, nine years after they parted ways, Francesa and Russo have claimed the current stamp of sports immortality. They have their own 30 For 30 documentary on ESPN. Premiering Thursday night, Mike and the Mad Dog shows how two dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers grew as big as the star athletes they covered, and paved the way for other sports radio stations to follow (including Dallas' own The Ticket). They were a great team, and like so many teams that find success, they yanked themselves apart with their own egos. But boy, did they have fun along the way.

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