Pat McAfee‘s willingness to let Aaron Rodgers‘ mind wander wherever it wants on ESPN got everybody involved into scalding water on Tuesday. Rodgers, while hitting his favorite topic of conspiracy theories, suggested that Jimmy Kimmel was associated with Jeffrey Epstein on the eve of the release of the names involved in his court case on Wednesday. He, of course, had zero evidence to back that up and just… said it, apparently without thinking of or expecting consequences.
Predictably, Kimmel was very displeased about this, called Rodgers “Aashole,” and threatened to sue him. This is a problem for everybody because the New York Jets quarterback was on McAfee’s show, which is aired by ESPN, which is owned by Disney, which also owns ABC, which broadcasts Jimmy Kimmel Live! and will have him hosting the Oscars in a month. In the video of Rodgers first saying it on Tuesday you can obviously tell that even McAfee realized in the moment that a big problem was unfolding before his eyes.
On Wednesday, McAfee opened his show by addressing the situation. He didn’t really help. He said he doesn’t want his show to be a place of negativity and regrets that the Kimmel comments caused such a storm, but also tried to excuse Rodgers by saying he was just trying to talk shit like football guys do in a football locker room.
On the one hand, there isn’t a ton McAfee can say that would have much of an impact. He is enabling Rodgers by letting him on that platform but he didn’t make the Jets QB say any of that stuff about Kimmel and apologizing on his behalf would be disingenuous. It also wouldn’t stop Kimmel from suing, if he was so inclined. McAfee had to say something but nothing he could have said would have been adequate to put out the fire.
On the other hand, he definitely did not have to try to explain why Rodgers would say something like that! The smart move would’ve been to condemn the comments and shift the focus to why Rodgers would say that out loud, not where he said it out loud. McAfee can’t completely absolve himself of blame but he can certainly distance himself from the person who might get his employer sued and he chose not to do that because they are buddies.
These Rodgers interviews started off as legitimately interesting glimpses into the mind of a great football player. Now they just give him a platform to air his bizarre, borderline psychotic grievances with the media and the world at large. The only remaining benefit is that McAfee gets to hang with his buddy for an hour every week and Rodgers gets paid.
It’s a grift of the highest order. That’s all it is. Rodgers is getting a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars so he can show a national audience how smart he thinks he is. He’s probably laughing at Disney on his way to cash the check every week, because you know Rodgers has nothing good to say about legacy media companies. Both ESPN and McAfee should be ashamed for enabling this.
Perhaps this will be the straw that broke the camel’s back. But based off how McAfee chose to address this, I really doubt it.