When Pat McAfee signed a lucrative deal to move his wildly popular podcast over to ESPN, he likely didn’t think there would be quite so much of a stir. Originally questioned by his loyal fan base if his move to ‘The Worldwide Leader’ would quell his creative control or preclude him from pushing the envelope, the former NFL punter assured them that not much would change.
Here is the full announcement from McAfee:pic.twitter.com/bk17MN0yfp
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) May 16, 2023
McAfee’s signing came just a few weeks before the network dropped the hammer on multiple on-air talents and crew. Over 20 names – among them ESPN stalwarts like Suzy Kolber, Jeff Van Gundy, and Max Kellerman, just to name a few – were let go as part of budget cuts.
Because of the timing, and the fact that the company trimmed the fat right after awarding Pat McAfee with a $85-million dollar contract is causing many to point the blame at him. Their rationale is that if the folks in Connecticut hadn’t paid so much cash for the former Colt and his crew, they could have kept more of their classic cast.
As someone who has been praised and popularized by a loyal audience, McAfee isn’t used to quite so much venom being spat in his direction. He recoiled and tried to offer both empathy for those let go and an explanation of his show’s stance regarding the shakeup.
“I did a lot of reflecting about our show’s journey while I was getting murdered on the internet today (hell yeah).. all roads lead back to how honored I am to be the leader of such a talented group and how lucky I am to be a part of this team,” Pat McAfee tweeted.
“We’re very pumped to be joining ESPN and our goal is that ‘Mass exits’ are never a thing again… we hope to help that… obviously, that’s a lofty goal but, that’s how I truly look at life… I wish we could’ve worked alongside a lot of the folks that got released today.”
“Some absolute legends, that we all respect, in the sports media world were trending today for losing jobs. That sucks.. no matter how you slice it.”