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So Mike & Mike Have Hated Each Other's Guts for a While Now

SIMultiple ESPN staffers, including current and former employees who have had roles with the show, told SI.com last week that the once-warm relationship between partners Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic has turned icy over the last year, prompting a number of ESPNers to predict that the show will conclude long before this December’s contractual end. The sources said Greenberg and Golic are not talking to each other off the set—and hardly at all before the show or during commercial breaks. …

“It’s really a poisonous atmosphere right now,” said one longtime ESPNer who has worked on the show. “Most of us don’t see the show lasting through its contractual end [which is believed to be the end of December]. But I give both these guys immense credit because when the light comes on, you would not know what’s going on. They are pros on air.”

“They are marvelous actors on set,” said another ESPN on-air staffer, who speaks to both Greenberg and Golic. “But they barely even make eye contact with each other these days.”

“They virtually ignore each other off air,” said a third ESPN staffer who has previously worked on the show and said such tension has existed since late last year.

There’s no reason to be shocked by this news. Co-hosts that can’t stand the sight of each other is a sports radio tradition as time honored as old callers who want more bunting, “long time listener, first time caller” and ads for fat loss. When ESPN decides to break up Greenberg and Golic about 15 years or so after all the old guard guys like Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann started bitching that the show was an abomination and exactly the kind of hokey, cornball bullshit they were mocking on SportsCenter, you know something nasty had to be going on between the two.

But let’s slow our roll with this “immense credit” crap. Let’s not start sucking Mike and Mike’s dicks because they were able put aside their differences long enough to have conversations about Tim Tebow and pie eating contests. If anything, they’ve been doing a disservice to their audience by not talking about it on the air.

I can say I’ve done sports radio with at least 30 different co-hosts. Easily. I’ve never actually sat across from someone I hated. But if I needed to? Absolutely I could do it. Every day. Easily. It’s your job. I’ve been writing for Portnoy now for over 12 years. If you think it’s all been bro hugs and “appreciate you”s, you’re living in a dream world. But I put up with his sniping me for not bowling well enough in the Boston Media League playoffs and about getting my Knee Jerk blogs in earlier because I was part of something great. We’re professionals. Well, we weren’t then but we are now. Anyway, the point is if you can’t put up with a little mutual abuse, you’re in the wrong business.

And if there’s tension there, so much the better. Bring that to the airwaves. I’ve never been a regular Mike and Mike listener/viewer. I know their audience in Boston are about what yours would be if you yelled your scorching hot sports takes out a window. But I might have listened a little more if they put aside their zany “It’s funny because we’re so different!” schtick and actually told the public what their beef is.

To be clear, I don’t think you have to be screaming at each other all the time. That’s a style that works for some, but not everyone. And you can’t fake it. I’m not hardwired to start fights with guys. And if you just start taking opposite opinions you don’t believe in just to create a fake argument, audiences pick up on that and tune you out, fast. But if there’s actual bad blood, two guys who truly resent each other like Greenberg and Golic have and they don’t put it out there, they’re being unprofessional. It’s sports fucking radio, not The Today Show. And instead of deserving acting awards, they deserve to get canned for not doing their jobs.

@jerrythornton1