Keidel: The Revis Reaction

By Jason Keidel
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It was the chat that went viral, that pinballed through the new media and its infinite social networks: two alphas who collided but never conceded. I watched the interview twice, listened to it thrice, and neither was nice.

To qualify myself, to shed my shill status, I will say I’ve met Mike Francesa once – before I joined WFAN. Indeed, I interviewed Mike for amNew York (a subsidiary of Newsday), a free paper you see bulging from those red boxes on every corner, buttressed against other rags stiff-arming extinction.

I expected ten minutes of Mike’s time, yet he gave me an hour. He answered every question and more. Forgive the platitude, but he treated me like a son.

And that was the last I ever heard from him. I clipped a personal note to the newspaper that ran my profile on him. I called him, “Facebooked” him, and tried to reach him through his former producer. My goal was to get my foot into the famous, WFAN door. And I never got a response. So you could argue that my beef with him is greater than all of yours. Combined.

Did he big-time me? Perhaps But it’s not his job to get me a job. And I made it here without him, with help from some very kind people who are too humble to want their names plastered to this piece. So I have no dog in this hunt. I don’t, however, see any major malfeasance in the infamous tête-à-tête you witnessed on Friday.

Should Mike have let it go after the third time he told Darrelle Revis it was a penalty? Perhaps. Should Revis have answered the question more candidly? Probably. Should the PR minion not have ordered the cornerback to hang up? Clearly.

Mike should have acknowledged that Brandon Marshall stumbled into Revis, thus initiating the contact, and Revis should have admitted he tugged on Marshall’s jersey. And then both should have moved on. Unfortunately (and famously) they didn’t, which led to Revis making the silly assertion that Mike can’t judge the play because he never played in the NFL. So, by extension, you and I are not allowed an opinion, either. This is the default defense of many athletes backed into a corner. Most great players bristle at anyone who questions their genius. Perhaps it’s part of what makes them great.

This radio combat was catnip to those who dislike Mike. “He finally got a taste of his own medicine!” you bellowed, along with gratuitous references to his weight. Many of you see him as a surly radio boss whose tongue whips the first caller to question his opinion. Many of you have cringed while he pounds the magic button on the screen to his left after John Q Public says something Mike decides is dumb.

You may find it a faulty caveat, but Mike doesn’t consider callers his audience. Once your voice makes it to his studio, he considers you part of the show, subject to the bylaws of his logic. He makes a distinction between the callers and his overall audience, whom he cherishes. You may believe it or not. I do.

And now it’s time to tell the truth. You still listen. If all your bold declarations that you’ve forever turned the dial since Dog left are true, then how did you hear the interview? And why did the article on this site get more hits and comments than any in its young history? And why does Mike’s audience tower over the competition?

Both men are at the top of their profession, unwilling – if not unequipped – to have their authority questioned. Revis was raised in the galling poverty of Aliquippa, PA, brilliantly described in Sports Illustrated by S.L. Price.  Revis makes a living fueled by those memories and the obdurate arrogance that he can’t be beat. On a lesser level, so does Francesa. No matter the vocation, few men surrender the Pole Position. Call it a draw.

To paraphrase the advertising mantra: all publicity is good publicity. Which means we tune in to watch celebrities, teams, and talk radio hosts fail as much as succeed. (How else do you explain the obsession with Lindsay Lohan?) The Revis Reaction was a perfect pretext to sound off on Francesa. Fine. Just stop pretending you don’t tune in.

We know Mike loves tweaking the Jets and their fans, which has helped create the friction between the franchise and Francesa, and will have you speed dialing the polarizing host, telling him to eat his words after Revis (who had another interception) and his Jets beat the favored Chargers. It should be entertaining. He is, after all, an entertainer. And, no matter your take, you can’t say you weren’t entertained.

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One Comment

  1. Jon says:

    Brandon Marshall initiated the contact by trying to throw his shoulder in Revis to get some separation. Revis braced himself and may have gotten a way with a little bit of a tug on Marshall’s Jersey but Had Matt Moore thrown the ball inside it would have been a touchdown. Marshall broke inside and was expecting the ball there.Could there have been a PI call, yeah but it’s also a call that could have gone either way. Revis made a great play on the ball and had a great return. I am sure if Jon Gruden never called it a missed PI call, Francesca who know nothing about sports outside of the Yankees wouldn’t even had questioned Revis about the play.

  2. Kurt Spitzner says:

    I find Craig Carton to be very entertaining regardless of what he may or may not really be like in person,and he is a perfect sidekick to Boomer who is okay but not nearly as funny.When I drive I wish to be entertained,PERIOD,and there’s different ways to skin a cat.

  3. Kurt Spitzner says:


    1. You are annoying says:

      Oh my GOD… the Caps Lock key is on the left side of the keyboard… USE IT

      1. Kurt Spitzner says:


        1. You are annoying says:

          I’m a fool am I? Well, you’re a STOOL!

          1. Kurt Spitzner says:

            Take away the S and there YOU go!Still nothing to say?How unusual!

          2. Kurt Spitzner says:

            And you a TOOL!

  4. chess_player says:

    If you don’t like him, then don’t listen. It’s very easy.

    1. JK says:

      Amazingly easy, chess. Yet my inbox is bulging with invectives from folks who claim they never listen to him. Sure.

  5. chess_player says:

    I live in Mass and love all the NE teams but I love listening to WFAN. I find that the personalities know their sports and offer some insights.

  6. Moe says:

    Mike was probably guilty of belaboring the interference/lack of interference dispute on the call, but you can’t continue to blame and berate him for questioning Revis on it. That’s what a journalist is supposed to do. He did it to Jeter when Jeter pretended he was hit by a pitch; he did it to Justin Tuck when the Giants were the beneficiariers of a gift “non-call” in the Cardinal game.. . The folks who are upset are just people who have taken the Jets “side” in the Jets vs. Francesca ongoing dispute, and simply want a host who cheerleads for their favorite team, rather than providing objective analysis.

    1. JK says:

      I agree with much of your assessment, Moe. We sing things through the prism of bias. Those who like Mike take his side, and the reverse.

  7. Pete says:

    Maybe Francesa should think about how he treated Cory Lidle just prior to Lidle’s terrible death.

  8. Pete says:

    As the writer points out, Marshall basically stumbled into Reavis, and Reavis more or less grabbed onto his jersey to stabilize his balance? Is that PI? I don’t know the rules well enough, but the way Mike described the incident, he grossly exaggerated the nature of Reavis’s contact with Marshall. Francesa wasn’t playing around either, he was being sarcastic and baiting him.

  9. Craig S says:

    Francesa was really not at fault here. He uses the same style with nearly every athlete he interviews. He’s often playful and tries to add a little humor. However, not everyone has the same sense of humor. For every Charles Barkley, there is a Revis.

    The only real error was made by the Jet employee who intervened. Without him, the interview would not have been newsworth.

  10. JK says:

    I don’t think Russo is doing too well in his new digs. I don’t wish it so, but he and Mike were best when brothers.

  11. Bob says:

    Mikey! You can have your opinion but give the man respect. You were your typical arogant self and kept egging Reves on. The PR guy broke the PR 101 rule of handling an interview, but you screwed up and your actions were not only unprofessional but also made you and The WFAN team look very bad. You have to lose sleep at night knowing an entire football organization has shunned you. Also, learn how to read an ad spot. Laughable!

    1. JK says:

      I respect your view, Bob, but do you think Revis is clear of fault here?

  12. A says:

    Why does anyone listen to this guy, like every other sports radio personality if you don’t listen (and their comments mean nothing to the teams they are talking about) they will have to get real jobs and move out of fantasy land.

    1. JK says:

      I’m not sure I understand, A. Are you saying Mike is like all radio personalities? If so, it sounds like you denounce the entire profession. I’m not being sarcastic; I honestly want to know your opinion (and your real name).

  13. Robert Richardson says:

    Man JK, once again you encapsulate that moment. Mike is the only sports talk host I can listen to year round (meaning that I pay attention to sports only during the baseball and football seasons). He is the only radio sports personality who’s opinion I value. My opinion of him range from megalomaniac to humble host. You summed up the confrontation succinctly as to alpha dogs going at it. I find it ironic that as much as today’s J-E-T-S collectively talk so much trash that a company man would interject himself into that fray and hang up the phone.

    1. JK says:

      I appreciate that, Robert. Hey, I understand why the masses might be irked when Mike snarls at a caller. He told me personally that he makes a salient distinction between callers and listeners. And you have every right to disbelieve him, though I don’t. But he knows sports.

    2. Robert Richardson says:

      I need to say that I value all the WFAN talk show hosts. I really love the station and could never get into tuning in elsewhere!

      1. JK says:

        I like the disparate personalities. You couldn’t ask for more different hosts. Forgive the cliche, but there’s something for everyone.

        1. Pete says:

          You are right!

          Craig Carton: self-absorbed, insecure frat boy. Everything has to be about him.
          Joe Benigno: emotional maturity of a 7-year old.
          Evan Roberts: the ultimate Monday-morning quarterback.
          Mike Francesa: knowledgeable, but also arrogant.
          Steve Sommers: sometimes entertaining, but little substance or original insight.
          Tony Paige: reads USA today sports section every day. That’s his whole show.
          Lori Rubinson: A voice that rivals nails on chalkboard. Horrendous.
          Richard Neer: balanced opinions.
          Ed Randall: best host on WFAN.

          1. JMS says:

            i’ve been listening to talk radio for many years and craig carton is the most annoying, self absorbed half wit to ever hit the airwaves. I have no idea how that guy keeps his job or maintains an audience. he can barely speak english and has the elocution/diction skills of a deaf mute. I get that some of the former athletes don’t have any formal soeech trainig but what’s this guy’s excuse? too bad b/c i like boomer esiaison.

  14. Pete says:

    This was the last straw for me as a Jets fan. I enjoy Francesa’s show, but since I know for a fact what will happen every day from now until the Football season ends (he will make up ways to badmouth the Jets), I cannot listen. I will go to 1050 during the afternoons until Jets season ends. Michael Kay won’t constantly badmouth the Jets. And I know for a fact he’ll have Jet interviews, which Mike damn sure won’t anymore (and he shouldn’t)

    Mikes actions were clearly examples of him just trolling his GUEST. If he had Revis on Tuesday, it would be fine to talk about the play since it just happened. But he had him on FRIDAY, talk about the UPCOMING game, not the preceding game.

    And by the way, MANY people (including Fox Sports Rules analyst Mike Pereira) thought it was NOT Pass Interference.

    1. JK says:

      I very much respect your opinion, Pete, but I find Kay nauseating, his signature calls (Free Baseball! Bonus Cantos! And, of course, the regurgitated classic, “Bernie Williams records all three outs in center field this inning, thus tying the Major-League record”), on eternal loop.

      Upon first blush, I thought it was clear pass interference. I’m not as sure anymore, and thrilled I needn’t make that call.

      Thanks for reading and responding, sir.

  15. Brian says:

    Francesa is a bully. I don’t understand how the Jets Mets Yankees Giants Knicks and Nets have not made him Manager Genreral Manager, He seems to know more about their jobs then they do. We all know he is never wrong. Thats why i don’t listen to Wfan in the afternoons anymore. At least Mad Dog contained him.

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