ESPN personality Paul Finebaum was thrilled to have Stephen A. Smith back on “First Take” after a lengthy absence – though, the reasons had less to do with Smith and more to do with one of his replacements.
Smith returned to the program this week after missing the show for two months following shoulder surgery, and while Finebaum debated him about Nick Saban, he suddenly launched into a rant against Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who filled in for Smith a number of times during his absence.
“See, I don’t want to insult people who have been here in his absence, like Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo,” Finebaum said. “But if I saw Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo one more time on my screen, I was going to go crazy. I don’t like that guy on my screen. I want Stephen A. Smith on this show every day.”
Smith defended Russo’s honor – to a point.
“Well, I love ‘Mad Dog’ Russo, so I’m not going to be as harsh about him as you,” Smith responded. “But I will say this about Christopher ‘Mad Dog’ Russo. I love you, bro. But he’s not Stephen A.”
While some appreciated Russo’s brash debate style, he also clashed with other guests on occasion. He got into a heated argument with ex-NFLer Ryan Clark, who told the radio veteran to “stop screaming at me” and “lower your voice” during a debate about Cooper Kupp.
Another ex-NFL player, Domonique Foxworth, sharply told Russo he’s “not no damn Kevin Durant,” when he compared their contract situations.
“You have a certain amount of value … your value is not that. You are not LeBron James,” Foxworth said.
Russo, who has spent over three decades in sports radio, rose in notoriety while hosting “Mike and the Mad Dog” with Mike Francesa on WFAN from 1989 to 2008. Since then, he has started his own “Mad Dog Radio” network on SiriusXM and hosts the show, “High Heat,” on MLB Network.