Top Ten Reasons Sports Networks Should Stay Away From Rob Parker

ESPN has severed ties with Rob Parker, whose last take on “First Take” was debating whether or not Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “a cornball brother” who is “not down with the cause.”

There will be no next take for Rob Parker.

The “First Take” analyst, who had been serving a month-long suspension for openly wondering if Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “a brother or… a cornball brother,” is officially on a permanent sabbatical from ESPN.

The thirty-day suspension was retroactive to the day Parker uttered those remarks on ESPN2’s “First Take,” December 13. Which means he would have been eligible to return to the Worldwide Leader’s airwaves as soon as next week, perhaps in time for the new Saturday edition of “First Take” that ESPN had named him host of.

Now, because of his last “Take” – his boneheaded RGIII ultimatum – Parker won’t be working for the weekend.

“Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew,” ESPN public relations wiz Mike Soltys disclosed via Twitter, regarding Parker’s contract, which he noted “expired at year end.”

Incidentally, on the first Sunday of the new year, who popped up on the NBC affiliate in Detroit but Rob Parker, maintaining that he didn’t intend for any “backlash” to happen, adding: “We are willing to tackle a lot of stuff that most shows won’t touch or even discuss. I think it’s important and that we’ve done it in a good way.”

See, there’s a reason that, say, Steve Mariucci isn’t breaking down RGIII’s strengths and weaknesses while throwing in that he “may be a Republican,” and that could doom him come November.

In other words, people “won’t touch” it for a reason.

And to go there and proclaim you’ve “done it in a good way”?

If I were George Bodenheimer or John Skipper, I’d break Parker off right then and there, rather than let him finish out the suspension.

But as Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand stresses, ESPN’s decision to ax Parker was made well before his Sunday sitdown in his old stomping grounds surfaced.

Whatever the case… not to pat myself on the keyboard here, but if you read my post on the day Parker’s suspension was made public, December 20, I argued that there could be a possibility that ESPN fire Parker at the end of the suspension. Okay, so he served 85% of it. But the fact of the matter is, he never appeared again on ESPN after his ill-advised RGIII take.

And I would be surprised if he appears on any sports television network in any meaningful role again.

Face it: Rob Parker is damaged goods. Who would want him?

And with that – and with apologies to David Letterman – I give you the top ten reasons, in the form of ten sports networks, or networks with a large sports operation, that will not dare “touch” Parker, as he himself would say.

ABC isn’t on the list, because Disney owns them, as they do ESPN. But here are some others that should have no use for his act:

10. The Golf Channel. Rob Parker probably believes it’s not dark enough for him.

9. NHL Network. The league may have just resolved its four-month-long lockout (you probably would never have known it if you were watching NHLN, unfortunately), but even egotist extraordinaire Gary Bettman isn’t crazy enough to hire Parker even in a “man-on-the-ice interview” role. Also, see Golf Channel.

8. MLB Network. Given Parker’s barbershop experience, they could appoint him as their resident “hair expert” – you know how some baseball players tend to stand out due to their kooky hairstyles. I’m sure there’s at least one MLBN employee that would welcome the move to bring Rob on board.

7. Fuel TV. Believe it or not, there may actually be a use for Parker at this channel, which specializes in MMA and other action sports. And as you may have noticed, many popular cable networks, in an effort to stay relevant when it comes to the bottom line, have been delving into the realm of reality TV. I’ve got the perfect reality show pilot for Rob Parker on Fuel: Viewers watch three crazy fights between couples or groups of people, and then have to figure out which fight was completely staged by Parker! Clearly, he has experience in this field. It would be perfect! Alas, Fuel’s days are numbered as it will eventually become Fox Sports 2 to Fox Sports 1.

6. SPEED. Features the kind of “racing” that Parker isn’t interested in. Also is slated to be blown up in favor of the aforementioned Fox Sports 2 this summer. As for the Fox network itself…

5. Fox. They already have a race baiter on their payroll. Next.

4. MSG Network. They already have a race baiter on their payroll. Next.

3. NBC. Their MSNBC unit canned Don Imus on the heels of his infamous “nappy headed ho’s” line to describe the mostly African-American Rutgers women’s basketball team.

2. CBS. Their WFAN radio canned Don Imus on the heels of his infamous “nappy headed ho’s” line to describe the mostly African-American Rutgers women’s basketball team, hours after MSNBC dropped him.

1. NFL Network. Not only did Rob Parker do a disservice to Robert Griffin III back on December 13 by suggesting he is “not down with the cause” and not the type of “brother” you would want to hang out with, he also did a disservice to the entity that signs RGIII’s paychecks: the National Football League. To hire Parker in any capacity in Culver City – poll taker, social media administrator, janitor – would be the worst move since the idea to hire replacement referees – and we all know how well that went. And you know who else would be ticked off about such a hire by NFLN: Football fans. Parker’s RGIII tirade was a detriment to them, as well. Any level-headed football follower could care less about whether or not Griffin wears braids, or any of the other “issues” Parker felt he had to “tackle”, while at the same time “[not] trying to slam the kid.”

The very next television outlet that hires Rob Parker for on-air work will be committing a slam on human nature.

Looks like he has to fix his Twitter handle now…

Rob Parker Suspended For One Month, Could Still Be Fired By ESPN

Radio hosts Opie and Anthony, currently at SiriusXM Satellite Radio, were fired by CBS Radio following a long suspension for a lewd stunt involving a Catholic church. The same fate might await Rob Parker for his “holier than RGIII” comments on “First Take”; ESPN has suspended him for one month.

Exactly one week after Rob Parker openly uttered on “First Take” that he suspected Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III might be “a cornball brother” and is “not really down with the cause,” while at the same time, Griffin actually is a “brother” because he dons braids, ESPN formally announced the personality’s suspension.

You may recall that, within 24 hours, the Worldwide Leader had confirmed Parker was suspended “indefinitely”. That “indefinitely” has now been redefined to a thirty-day suspension.

It’s very likely that the month-long suspension is retroactive to December 14, the day he was initially banished temporarily from ESPN’s air. Otherwise, if it’s effective today (December 20), that means that Parker will be eligible to return to “First Take” on Monday, January 21 – or Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The network’s imposing of a thirty-day suspension of Parker comes just one day after he issued an apology through his Twitter account. (And no, all of those tweets and retweets supporting his “cornball brother” perspective have not been taken down.)

That’s two month-long suspensions the Worldwide Leader has doled out this year alone. Back in February, ESPN anchor Max Bretos was suspended for a month for using the term “chink in the armor” during a discussion about Jeremy Lin, then with the New York Knicks, during a segment on ESPNews.

And even though Bretos still remains employed by ESPN (which I don’t have a problem with, by the way), when ESPN says that they’ve “decided to suspend Rob Parker for 30 days”, do not think that the only thing that could happen is Parker serving his suspension and then returning in mid-January and things are hunky dory once again.

Because there still lies the possibility that ESPN ultimately give Parker a permanent vacation in a month from now. As Parker tweeted out his half-assed apology, sources believed that there was a 3 in 4 chance that Parker would be sent packing by the Worldwide Leader for his divisive comments about RGIII.

Remember, ESPN is still conducting a review, and might come across something that hasn’t reared its ugly head yet.

Or worse: The Washington Redskins might advance to the NFC Championship Game.

A number of things could happen that could lead ESPN to fire Parker upon serving out his suspension.

Let’s not forget, it’s possible to be terminated either during or following a suspension.

Ten years ago, radio shock jocks Opie and Anthony had seen their show go into reruns about a week after a “Sex For Sam” contest, which encouraged two listeners to fornicate in a pew inside the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, before CBS Radio finally cancelled the show. Neither Opie nor Anthony issued an apology; then again, this is what they do (and it is admittedly entertaining, usually).

Five years ago, Don Imus, who did issue an apology after receiving backlash for his “nappy headed ho’s” comment was given a two-week suspension by CBS; once sponsors started dropping like flies, CBS changed their tune and pulled the plug on “Imus In The Morning” within three days.

And just a couple of months ago, Columbus sports radio host Scott “The Torg” Torgerson was suspended by Dispatch Media Group/WBNS-FM “97.1 The Fan” after tweeting his desire for an ESPN employee, Desmond Howard, to “die or get fired” so that “College GameDay” can be viewable to him. After one week, “The Fan” fired “The Torg.”

So let’s not rule out the possibility of Rob Parker being fired for his attack on Robert Griffin III. It could still happen.

And just in time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

As Dr. King himself once said: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concerns of dedicated individuals.”

Translated: The passionate concerns of many individuals (bloggers and viewers, but mostly, bloggers) led to tireless exertions (ESPN’s “review”) and a subsequent effort for human progress (with “human” in this case being “First Take”). Yet, if ESPN sees itself struggling after suffering from a loss of advertising revenue, the obvious sacrifice would be to terminate Rob Parker.

And that would be justice for all.

(Irony: If you attempt to watch one version of Parker’s RGIII comments on YouTube, you will see the following message: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy against spam, scams and commercially deceptive content.” Ain’t that the truth: “First Take” might be the biggest scam going.)

The Odd Couple: Dave Ramsey Moving To Sports Radio In Nashville

Nashville-based financial-oriented radio host Dave Ramsey has named sports radio station 102.5 The Game his new flagship station in the market. But could his show that preaches “debt is dumb, cash is king” conflict with regular sports talk?

Coming up next on Nashville sports radio: moneyball.

Dave Ramsey, the nationally syndicated radio host known for doling out financial advice to listeners, has been heard for two decades in his home market of Nashville on WWTN-FM (99.7 WTN).

But that era is about to come to an end, as Ramsey was unable to reach an agreement with WWTN’s owner, Cumulus Media, for the show to continue airing on the station. It was “a simple renewal agreement,” according to Ramsey.

Finding a new flagship station in the Music City wouldn’t prove to be so simple. There’s only one other major talk station, Clear Channel’s WLAC/1510 AM, but they’re usually carrying the syndicated shows of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity – programs that are both nationally distributed by Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks unit – while Ramsey is hosting his live show from 1-4 PM local time (2-5 PM Eastern).

Fortunately, Ramsey was able to find a new outlet in the market for his financial talk show: an upstart sports radio station, WPRT (102.5 The Game).

That’s right. Within hours, you might hear discussion about Jake Locker and Lockheed Martin on the same radio station.

Such an arrangement is not unheard of. For years, WFAN in New York was the hub of the previous incarnation of Don Imus’ syndicated radio show, which is usually heavy on political content. And in a recent example, and a very extreme one at that, San Francisco-based conservative firebrand Michael Savage, following successful runs at KSFO and KNEW, had started calling KTRB/”XTRA Sports 860″ his home in early 2010 (the station would drop him by year’s end and switch to its current ESPN Deportes format).

But this development with Dave Ramsey literally mirrors the premise of the old 1970’s sitcom “The Odd Couple”: a man “with nowhere else to go” moves in with his friend, who’s a sports columnist for a local newspaper.

In this case, Ramsey is bringing his radio program, which is effectively being tossed out by station owner Cumulus (no doubt, so they can clear all three hours of their new answer to Limbaugh, Mike Huckabee) and moving in with the new sports station on the block.

Ironically, the leading sports station in Nashville, WGFX/”104.5 The Zone”, is also owned by Cumulus.

And what makes this scenario interesting is that one man, George Plaster – considered the dean of Nashville sports radio – has worked for all three of the aforementioned stations. He co-hosted “Sports Night” on WWTN, but left the station in 2003, not too long after Cumulus purchased it from Gaylord Entertainment Company, which operates the Grand Ole Opry. That same year, he would help launch the market’s first FM sports station, The Zone. At the time, the station was owned by Citadel Communications. And last year, Cumulus acquired Citadel, which did not make Plaster a happy camper. So he left and assisted in putting a Zone competitor on the air in The Game, owned by The Cromwell Group, an independent radio company headed by Bud Walters.

So 2013 will be just like 2003 in that Plaster will once again be co-hosting “Sports Night” right after Ramsey’s show (it currently airs from 3-6 PM local time; in 2013, he will be doing a 3 PM hour for regional affiliates of the show; there will be a new local hour on 102.5 at 6 PM, though it reportedly will be hosted solely by co-host Willy Daunic).

But could Plaster view Cromwell’s move of bringing Ramsey in as somewhat of a slap in the face, now that his current all-sports station will be breaking format for a few hours a day, and during a prime listening period in the afternoon when many people might be tuned in at work?

And will listeners who would rather hear talk about the Titans’ starting free safety be turned off by Ramsey’s callers documenting how they became debt-free?

We may not know the answers to these questions until possibly around this time next year. The Nashville metropolitan area only has two major sports franchises: There’s the Predators, whose radio rights are held by The Game, and who would be in action, had the NHL lockout been resolved. And, of course, there’s the Titans, whose games are heard locally on The Zone – but discussion about the team and the NFL in general might account for a great deal of the content on local sports radio. And don’t forget about college football, including the Tennessee Volunteers and the MTSU Blue Raiders. So with the Titans likely missing the playoffs, and absolutely nothing going on sports-wise in the Music City, this gives Ramsey a good starting point on The Game. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on how many of his loyal listeners follow him over to his new flagship, and perhaps sample the rest of the station’s offerings.

But most of all, it will be interesting to see how Dave Ramsey’s ratings on a sports talk station will hold up once the NFL season is back in full swing.

If the Titans are playing well – or if they’re not playing well, as is the case this year – you’re going to have a lot of angry listeners who care more about the School of Hard Knocks than they do Financial Peace University.

They’d rather talk about Dave Ragone, not so much Dave Ramsey.

The Game might risk losing listeners to The Zone… yeah, I can see why Plaster might be miffed about having Ramsey on board.

But lest Plaster forget that when The Zone first started its sports format back in 2003, they gave the late morning slot to Hallerin Hilton Hill, a person described as a motivational speaker and a Grammy-winning songwriter. Not quite the pedigree you expect from someone you’re offering a show on a sports radio station to, now, is it?

And besides, Ramsey and Plaster have both worked at the same station in the past, and they now share a common goal: sticking it to Cumulus. (Okay, so Ramsey admits he’s not that vindictive – “there are a lot of great people at WWTN and we’ll miss them,” he says.)

Time will tell if the melding of hosts breaking down X’s and O’s and Ramsey breaking down dollar signs will work in Nashville. Remember, it worked for Imus for years – to the point that his show was actually being syndicated to other sports radio stations as an alternative (this, of course, was long before the modern-day era of five national sports radio networks; Imus probably wouldn’t survive in it even if he hadn’t made that fateful Rutgers remark back in 2007).

After all, if Felix Unger could coexist with Oscar Madison for all those years…

Frank Isola Wants To See "Thick" Women At "12/12/12 Concert"

A tweet sent by Frank Isola, Knicks beat reporter for the New York Daily News, from the “12/12/12 Concert” at Madison Square Garden may have been reminiscent of an infamous comment made by Don Imus.

I’m sure as you were watching the “12/12/12 Concert For Sandy Relief” (and how could you avoid it, it was on dozens of channels), you were also plugged into social networking to gauge the reaction of others in your circle that were watching the show.

And in many a big event, there’s usually going to be at least one person on Twitter that might take things a bit out of hand.

Some of the most biting commentary on the concert came from New York Daily News basketball columnist Frank Isola, who at times appears on TNT and NBA TV as well as the regional sports network SNY.

The cause of the concert aside – benefit for victims of Hurricane Sandy – such big events were made for being criticized on Twitter.

But one of the tweets I read from Isola, who actually attended the concert in person, may have been a little over the line.

I’m not talking about the one where he observed that “this crowd is whiter than a Rangers game.” (He followed that up with a belief that “some of the concert proceeds should go to teaching everyone in the audience some rhythm” – which likely explains the previous tweet.)

It’s a tweet that he posted just after a Bruce Springsteen set (with special guest, fellow New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi) at the event had wrapped up: “Let’s get a real New Jersey legend on the stage: J.R. Smith. Can you imagine how hot (and thick) his backup singers and dancers would be. Wow.”

Isola, of course, is referring to J.R. Smith, the guard on the New York Knicks team that he covers for the Daily News.

The same J.R. Smith that tweeted a photo of a female companion’s rear end during a hotel stay this past spring – and was subsequently fined for it by NBA commissioner David Stern.

It’s one thing if you’re going to make a reference to that little affair.

But if you’re using a term like “thick” – a term commonly used in the African-American community – to describe women, that’s when you start playing with fire.

Need I remind anyone what happened before the dawning of Twitter, when Don Imus described female basketball players – mostly African-American – during the national championship game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers in the NCAA Women’s Final Four as “nappy headed hos”?

While Imus had a visual to work with, it’s clear to see which direction Isola is going, especially if you factor in Smith and his “booty photo”.

Of course, Imus ended up being fired from WFAN/Westwood One and MSNBC, but he eventually landed a new radio/TV gig with Cumulus Media (nee ABC Radio/Citadel) and Fox Business Network. And just this week, Cumulus extended their contract with the I-Man.

Isola might have some explaining to do. It may not take a beer summit to fix it.

Chicken Comment Intended For Jimmy Johnson, Says Buckethead Bradshaw

 

Do you buy Terry Bradshaw’s spin move that he was referring to Jimmy Johnson when he said over a highlight of a Reggie Bush touchdown that “he was chasing a bucket of chicken”? Let us know in the comments below.

The day after his “Reggie Bush ran like he was chasing that bucket of chicken” remark on Fox went viral, Terry Bradshaw, like any right-minded individual in such a predicament, felt remorse.

He then proceeded to cover it up with perhaps the biggest spin job of all time.

I mean, this couldn’t possibly be fishier if Howie Long was running after a bucket of Long John Silver’s.

First off, his reaction: “I don’t know how to react, except to apologize for something I didn’t know I said.”

Let’s review the speech one more time.

As Dolphins running back Reggie Bush takes it to the house, TB says:

“Look at this, Jimmy, like he was chasing that bucket of chicken that the wind was blowing the other day.”

You could hear Bradshaw clearly speaking in the direction of “Fox NFL Sunday” colleague Jimmy Johnson, asking him to check out the video of Bush running like, well, whatever the hell he just said.

Here’s his mea culpa – are you ready for this? Bradshaw claims he didn’t realize that, while he was talking to Johnson, he said the word “he,” which, if an NFL player is being shown on the screen, viewers would see the player and hear Bradshaw say “he” and put two and two together.

Not so, he insists – I’m sorry; not so, Bradshaw insists.

Bradshaw meant to use the word “you” in that controversial sentence, as opposed to the word “he.”

You know, so it could sound even more demeaning to African-Americans.

“Look at this, Jimmy, like you was chasing that bucket of chicken that the wind was blowing the other day.”

Way to lay an egg there, Chicken Little.

Had Bradshaw originally said on the air, “… like he were chasing that bucket of chicken…”, then it might be believable.

But let’s get to the meat and potatoes of why Bradshaw really said what he said.

“His big thing is chicken,” he said on Monday. “Kentucky Fried Chicken. He won’t share it with anybody.”

Sorry, I’m not buying what he’s selling here – even if he throws in an order of the Colonel’s Crispy Strips.

And I know I’m not alone in being skeptical about Bradshaw’s explanation.

Ask the two African-Americans on the set – Curt Menefee and Michael Strahan – if they accept that cole slaw from TB. You mean to tell me, 24 hours after their obvious shocked responses, all suddenly happens to be well because it’s a bit revolving around one of the other hosts on the set?

“I’ve been in this business way too long, and am way too smart to make that kind of slip.”

Bradshaw started his vaunted broadcasting career immediately after he retired from the NFL in 1983. Yes, 1983, the same year, as I previously wrote, that Howard Cosell made those comments about Alvin Garrett. “That little monkey gets loose, doesn’t he?”

I don’t recall Cosell going to the media that Tuesday, explaining that he usually frequents the Bronx Zoo with Don Meredith.

You mean to tell me you were just starting out in sports broadcasting in 1983, Terry, and you were not watching “Monday Night Football” like millions of people did back then?

Nor do you remember what Don Imus said on his old Westwood One/MSNBC radio simulcast – the one you’ve appeared on several times.

And now you’re going to orchestrate this whole obsession that Jimmy Johnson has with fried chicken, and even have Curt Menefee as well as a couple of network spokespeople (“his entire commentary was directed towards Jimmy Johnson”; “his comment was directed at a studio mate and no one else”) on the take?

Maybe Jimmy does chow down on a four-piece bucket every Sunday. I mean, I’m not there, so I wouldn’t know. But I would like to know the location of the Kentucky Fried Chicken that Fox has been ordering from (at 9 AM in the morning local time, mind you) and asking for the “JJ Special”.

“I’ve been upset today,” said Bradshaw on Monday.

As he should be.

“I don’t think like that. I think strictly about what’s happening on the field.”

Was that not Reggie Bush on the field in a highlight that played underneath Terry’s chicken analogy?

“It’s not me. I’m shocked.”

I’m shocked, Terry, that you would go to great lengths to cover up this slip of the tongue with such a bizarre story – which, again, could be true… but given the course of events, sounds a bit contrived.

“I can’t believe I said it.”

Loser loser chicken dinner.

Terry Bradshaw Channels Don Imus, Suggests Reggie Bush Ran "Like He Was Chasing A Bucket Of Chicken"

 

Fox should suspend Terry Bradshaw for likening a Reggie Bush touchdown run to him “chasing a bucket of chicken.”

1983. As Washington Redskins wideout Alvin Garrett barreled through the Dallas Cowboys defense during “Monday Night Football,” Howard Cosell remarked to viewers, “That little monkey gets loose, doesn’t he?”

2012. During the “Visa Halftime Report” on Fox, as a highlight of Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush barreling through the Indianpolis Colts defense plays, Terry Bradshaw said: “Look at this, Jimmy [Johnson], like he was chasing that bucket of chicken that the wind was blowing the other day.”

At that moment, Curt Menefee, an African-American, openly wondered: “What are we gonna do with him?”

How about a suspension? What “TB” said during that pre-recorded clip of an African-American NFL player in action was no different than what Cosell said over an African-American NFL player live.

And it’s just as bad as what Don Imus said about the Rutgers women’s basketball team five years ago – a statement that cost him his nationally syndicated and televised radio show.

Cosell couldn’t live down the guilt of those Garrett remarks, which is what led to him leaving the “MNF” booth after that season.

I’m not saying Terry Bradshaw is finished as a “Fox NFL Sunday” commentator.

But he just needs to learn a lesson from this, that’s all.

Did Mike Francesa Actually Cancel The New York City Marathon?

The biggest critic of the New York City Marathon being run in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was WFAN/YES Network host Mike Francesa. Which is why many are attributing its eventual cancellation to his irate on-air rants, including one former NYC marathon runner, who says Francesa “never ran more than ten steps in the last thirty years.”

As Superstorm Sandy (nee Hurricane Sandy) swept into the Northeast, paralyzing millions of residents in terms of their power, their gas tanks, their living quarters, or worse, many events were either canceled or postponed, from campaign stops for both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as the number of days until the election shrinks into the single digits, to an all-important Google event. (And really, who doesn’t like them some Google?)

In addition, there were several sporting events, particularly in the New York area, that were affected by Sandy: what was supposed to be the first major sporting event in Brooklyn in 55 years on Thursday night, a crosstown matchup between the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets (nee the New Jersey Nets), will actually be a Barclays Center opener on Saturday night vs. the Toronto Raptors. The Knicks’ home opener at Madison Square Gardem on Friday night went on as scheduled, and the Giants’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is a go for Sunday afternoon, despite the Steelers’ inability to stay in the New York area the night before the game, or some means of transportation not being restored this weekend, which could serve as an inconvenience to fans attending the game.

But there was one annual event that was scheduled to take place this weekend. It’s an event that has encapsulated all five boroughs of New York City since 1970: the New York City Marathon. Originally a single race, but split into two races for male and female participants in just its second year of existence, the marathon, like so many other landmarks in sports, have fallen victim to corporate sponsorship, having been known as the ING New York City marathon since 2003.

Three days before the 43rd edition of the marathon (42nd for the ladies) was scheduled to run, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was adamant that it would not be sidelined by Sandy, insisting “it’s a great event for New York.”

Which is true – but only if New York itself is in great shape.

Especially the borough of Staten Island, where the annual trot of thousands begins.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s steadfast stance on the marathon despite post-Sandy conditions did not sit well with Mike Francesa, the Mayor of sports in New York City (not to be confused with the Mayor of sports in San Antonio, Mike Taylor).

As WFAN added an FM simulcast, the station’s popular afternoon drive host did not mince words, spending a great deal of his program on Thursday and Friday bashing Bloomberg.

Some choice quotes:

“The fact that the marathon is still going on is mind-boggling… You have people with no power. (In) Staten Island, they’re still recovering bodies. It’s ridiculous. They’re trying to kick people who are displaced out of hotels for runners. Thank God there are some runners now who are not running in protest.

“How can you do this? And if the idea is to show that New York is above it, and to make the mayor look good, knock it off… Instead of putting people on a marathon, put them in places where they can help. Have people orchestrate to get more workers in here… We’ve got a crisis, this is not getting better… We’re not making a lot of progress.

“If Bloomberg’s ego is so big that he wants to show the world we can do this on his watch, you know what? You want to show us something on your watch? Get the power on… The city is still dark and you’re running a marathon. His legacy will be that he approved a marathon through a city that was dark, and they’re digging out bodies. Someone’s got to get to him, whack him on the side of the head and tell him, ‘Hey, mayor, listen, I know you’re bright and I know you think you’re a genius, but this is a bad decision.’

“This will be something that the mayor will regret forever if he doesn’t change his mind.”

Listen to the open of his November 1 broadcast and the entire hour of his November 2 broadcast below:

At just after 5 PM on Friday afternoon, or less than 48 hours before an estimated 45,000 runners were set to go, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the event had been canceled. In a statement, he argued that while resources used in the citywide recovery of Hurricane Sandy would not be diverted in any way by the running of the citywide marathon, “it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division… We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event – even one as meaningful as this – to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track.

“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it.”

Social networking played a heavy hand in this decision. Millions of Americans, led by angry residents of New York City, some of which are still without power or shelter, took to Twitter to oppose Bloomberg’s original intention of running the marathon in Sandy-battered boroughs like Brooklyn. This was also the case on Facebook, where even the page of the marathon’s corporate sponsor, ING, had felt the wrath of incensed people.

There were also plenty of incensed folks checking in on websites such as Barstool Sports.

But certainly, the most incensed of them all was WFAN and YES Network personality Mike Francesa.

In fact, some believe his ire for Bloomberg in the wake of his original plan, his rants that were heard on 50,000 watts on the AM dial (and later 6,200 watts on the FM dial) and multiplied across the world via streaming, and of course, television, were so effective that people are giving him credit for single-handedly canceling the running of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon.

And it’s not just the expected callers that praised Francesa for putting a kibosh on the race. This was the vibe on Twitter in the 5 PM hour, moments after the race was called off:

Likewise, folks on Facebook believe the radio host was partly, if not fully, responsible for the cancellation of the marathon. Folks like Russel Harvey, a past NYC marathon participant who labeled Francesa “a fathead who blabs on the radio, and never ran more than ten steps in the last thirty years, and that was probably [able] to catch a cab.” He added that calling off the marathon “defeats the beauty and ideal of the sport” of running, and vowed: “If I were still living in [New York], I would run the course, on my own, and I encourage everyone who had intended to run on Sunday to do just that.”

So, was it indeed possible for a “radio fathead” to have major influence in the cancellation of the New York City Marathon? Consider the time it was officially called off: after 5 PM on a Friday afternoon, usually considered a “news dump” in terms of relevance of information. Yet it’s also considered peak listenership in afternoon drive programs, such as Francesa’s.

And note how Bloomberg labeled the outrage against the running of the marathon “divisive.” The definition of the word is as follows: “Tending to cause disagreement of hostility between people.” Well, Francesa was doing that on the air for twenty years with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. And there have been many other radio hosts, be it sports talk or political talk, that have been referred to as “divisive” – including Francesa’s former WFAN colleague Don Imus by then-Senator Barack Obama. (Of course, what Imus said five years ago that earned those remarks from Obama were a different sense of divisiveness.)

Whether or not Mike Francesa wants to claim responsibility for the 43rd running of the New York City Marathon being canceled, you can’t help but think he had at least a little pull in the decision.

Looks like that new FM signal for WFAN is working wonders.