Aaron Rodgers will no longer appear on The Pat McAfee Show for the remainder of the 2023-2024 NFL season, host Pat McAfee announced Wednesday. The decision comes after Rodgers made controversial comments implying a connection between comedian Jimmy Kimmel and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein earlier this week.
Background of Rodgers-McAfee Partnership
Rodgers has been a weekly guest on the sports talk show since 2018. His appearances have been a major driver of the show’s popularity, with viewership spiking 30-40% on days when Rodgers is on. The unconventional interviews covering Rodgers’ life and NFL career have endeared him to fans.
In 2021, executives from ESPN and Barstool Sports negotiated a deal for The Pat McAfee Show to air on ESPN 2 in a reported $30 million per year agreement. Rodgers’ appearances have been a huge part of the show’s appeal for ESPN. This year, McAfee negotiated an increased rights fee of $85 million annually.
The Jimmy Kimmel Controversy
The conflict started when Kimmel made jokes about Rodgers on his late night show regarding the quarterback’s upcoming free agency and future with the Packers. Rodgers responded by quoting a tweet alleging Kimmel has ties to Jeffrey Epstein.
Kimmel forcefully denied any connection and demanded an apology on Monday’s show. But Rodgers doubled down on Tuesday, refusing to walk back his implications about Kimmel and Epstein.
This led McAfee to announce on Wednesday that he can no longer allow Rodgers on his ESPN show, citing network executives.
Reaction from Key Figures
In his statement, McAfee said Rodgers will remain a friend but he cannot condone the quarterback’s comments about Kimmel in good conscience.
“I am a gambling man and I’d like to remain one,” McAfee said, alluding to his substantial contract with ESPN being potentially at risk if the feud escalates further on his show.
Network insiders told reporters that ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro spoke directly with Kimmel following Monday’s scathing monologue in which Kimmel called Rodgers a “scumbag.”
While details of the conversation are confidential, ESPN likely aims to appease Kimmel and avoid any damage to their brand or talent relationships.
The late night host has not backed down, using his platform to condemn Rodgers’ behavior and what he called “anger issues.” Kimmel threatened potential legal action if Rodgers does not retract his Epstein implications.
Do not expect apologies from either Rodgers or Kimmel in the coming days. Rodgers remains steadfast he did nothing wrong while Kimmel continues lambasting the quarterback for spreading falsehoods.
In the long run, this fiasco may hurt Rodgers’ prospects of landing the mega contract extension he wants from the Jets or any other team in 2024 free agency. Front offices could be wary of his volatility and penchant for off-field turmoil.
However, Rodgers maintains strong ties with many NFL owners and executives. His on-field talent is undeniable, which may ultimately override character concerns for quarterback-needy teams. But Rodgers likely complicated his free agent negotiations with this ongoing feud.
The Pat McAfee Show
Losing Rodgers is a huge blow, at least in the short term. He drove a major chunk of McAfee’s viewership and was a staple of the popular program.
However, McAfee retains other high-profile regulars like WWE’s Vince McMahon, which should keep fans tuning in. And the host is adept at pivoting content to capitalize on the latest NFL and pop culture news.
McAfee stressed that Rodgers will return to the show after football season. But for now, his absence leaves a gaping hole in programming. Time will tell whether Rodgers’ appearances ever return to their previous frequency given the fallout with ESPN brass.
Table: Key Stats on The Pat McAfee Show
|ESPN Rights Fee
|% Viewership Increase on Aaron Rodgers Episodes
The show has experienced massive growth in the past 3 years, largely fueled by Rodgers’ appearances. His shocking exit from the program in 2024 leaves major questions about viewership declines and whether rights fees will remain so lucrative when re-negotiated.
In the span of a week, joking jabs between Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Kimmel have spiraled into a toxic feud with professional ramifications. Rodgers losing his ESPN platform compounds speculation about his character issues hurting upcoming free agent negotiations.
Meanwhile, the hugely popular Pat McAfee Show must adjust to life without its most famous recurring guest. All sides stand to lose money, credibility or influence. Do not expect the furor to die down soon – both Rodgers and Kimmel appear entrenched in their stances.
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