Chris "Mad Dog" on his SiriusXM Radio show Photo credit: SiriusXM

Pat McAfee has proved to be sensitive to criticism during his ESPN tenure, so sensitive that he probably won’t enjoy Chris “Mad Dog” Russo pointing out that he’s too sensitive.

Russo co-hosted Andrew Marchand’s Sports Media Podcast this week, and McAfee’s tumultuous week with ESPN was a main theme of the show.

To recap, Aaron Rodgers went on his weekly spot with McAfee last week and recklessly implied Jimmy Kimmel’s name would surface on Jeffrey Epstein’s list of associates. Two days later, Marchand wrote a column which alleged McAfee’s TV ratings might not be good enough. Less than 24 hours later, McAfee lambasted ESPN executive Norby Williamson, claiming he is a “rat” attempting to “sabotage” his show. ESPN said it would handle the matter internally, but McAfee promptly addressed it externally.

The Marchand and Russo podcast was recorded before Rodgers’ latest appearance with McAfee, where the quarterback spent the better part of an hour preaching anti-COVID 19 vaccine narratives and criticizing the “woke establishment.” But Russo heard enough of McAfee in the last week to know his current ESPN colleague, and former Mad Dog Radio lead-in, is too sensitive.

“You can’t be that sensitive. He is so sensitive,” Russo told Marchand of McAfee. “You and him of course have gotten into it somewhat, he’s mad at you, he gets mad at other writers. Let it go! You’re making $85 million. You can’t get that wrapped up when somebody writes something that is not so much going to be in your corner. You can’t come out swinging and bury everybody.

“I mean, Norby’s a good man,” Russo alleged. “I don’t know Burke Magnus, but Norby’s a good man. Why would you go out there and throw gauntlets at him? Remember the one thing you can say about McAfee, he’s gotta prove that he can go out there and last a long time with a network. Whether it’s Barstool, whether it’s SiriusXM, whether it’s FanDuel, he hasn’t proved that he can stay five or ten years…He hasn’t shown yet the ability to be a little long lasting.”

Perhaps Russo has enjoyed different experiences with Norby Williamson, considering the ESPN executive is perceived to be a higher-up who prefers a more old-school approach to sports television. It’s fair to say the 64-year-old Russo is more traditional media than the 36-year-old McAfee is.

But Russo is right, McAfee is too sensitive. Part of that might stem from his goal of creating a show that celebrates sports and athletes. You can see McAfee getting frustrated at his growing group of critics when in his mind, he just wants to celebrate sports. But it’s hard to have it both ways. It can’t be a show that celebrates sports one minute, gives a person the platform to attack the “woke establishment” for the next 20 minutes, and expects to escape criticism. If McAfee wants to create a deviating show on a traditional network, then he has to be more apt to handling his critics.

[Marchand and Ourand]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to