According to reports, ESPN pays Pat McAfee more than $15 million annually in an effort to appeal to a younger audience for sports. Even though Pat McAfee is a charming man, there appears to be some worry about him at ESPN headquarters.
When word leaked out a few weeks ago that the former NFL punter pays Aaron Rodgers over seven figures to appear on “The Pat McAfee Show” every Tuesday, it made everyone else wonder what the regulations are that apply to McAfee and not them.
The Washington Post‘s Ben Strauss reported:
“Still, the report of the payments was gossiped about by ESPN colleagues because of the gaudy amount and also what it might mean should another ESPN show want Rodgers to appear. There could be an element of professional jealousy involved but, more broadly, the question that came up most among ESPN staffers is what, exactly, are the rules for McAfee?
There was the “suck it” clip, but there also has been internal chafing at his seeming dismissal of Washington State football fans and a decades-long “GameDay” tradition. Another clip that circulated among staffers was McAfee’s spiraling speculation on the exit of Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams and an FBI raid that may or may not have happened. (One former ESPN reporter said there used to be a designated person to discuss with talent how they might handle sensitive off-the-field issues before any TV or radio show.)”
Because he has drawn greater attention to the network, it is true that McAfee does not appear to have much of a lease. similar to how Stephen A. Smith, who is given the highest salary on the network, does. Respected individuals will have more latitude to say and do as they like.
His show is successful, but college football fans are not connecting with it. According to a recent survey conducted by The Athletic among College GameDay viewers, 49% of them don’t think McAfee is a good fit for the show. McAfee disclosed that he might not be back for the 2024 season as a result.