After 18 years and thousands of episodes, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic soon will be calling it quits. The hosts of the popular radio and TV sports-talk show Mike & Mike will air their last episode together later this year – and if rumors are to be believed, the split is anything but cordial, making it one of the messier business divorces to capture headlines lately.
The unlikely pair – Golic’s a plus-sized eight-year veteran of the NFL, while Greenberg earned his journalism degree from Northwestern University – have been trading quips and barbs with each other and a string of high-profile guests in the sports world since their show’s debut on ESPN Radio in January 2000. In 2004, the duo made the move to ESPNews and later ESPN2. Their mix of cutting-edge sports commentary and witty banter – often at one another’s expense, given their disparate backgrounds – was a ratings win for the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” and helped fuel the network’s sports-talk renaissance.
Nothing lasts forever, though, and the partnership between the two Mikes is no exception. Greenberg will leave the show later this year, having inked a new deal with ESPN that will see him host a show on his own (and make $6.5 million per year), starting Jan. 1, 2018. Golic will continue his part on the former Mike & Mike, with ESPN’s Trey Wingo as his new co-host.
Under the surface, there are rumblings that this breakup is not proceeding smoothly. According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, the relationship between Greenberg and Golic can be described as “icy” at best. Deitsch quotes some ESPN staffers as saying the show has a “poisonous atmosphere” and that its two hosts “virtually ignore each other off air” and “barely even make eye contact with each other these days.” Meanwhile, Golic’s son, Jake, called ESPN “idiots” after the official announcement of the pair’s breakup – which had been an open secret for months – became official in May.
The timing of that news, and how it spread, might be at the root of the friction between the two. Another of Deitsch’s ESPN sources believes that Greenberg was angling for his new show without informing Golic – or including him as part of the package. Greenberg himself told the New York Post that he wishes they would have “been the ones to tell our audience” the news.
Publicly, the two Mikes insist that there are no hard feelings between the two of them. Regardless of how it goes down, or the factors that led to the split, the breakup of Mike & Mike represents the end of an era in sports talk shows and in the high-stakes sports entertainment industry.