Pat McAfee Show Aaron rodgers Pat McAfee interviewing Aaron Rodgers in October 2023. (The Pat McAfee Show.)

As Aaron Rodgers continues to bring unwelcome headlines to ESPN via his weekly appearances on The Pat McAfee Show, a new report from Front Office Sports indicates there may be more to the arrangement between Rodgers and McAfee than was previously known.

This week, Rodgers jokingly connected ABC host Jimmy Kimmel to the forthcoming unsealed Jeffrey Epstein client list in an interview with McAfee. In response, Kimmel threatened legal action. On Wednesday, McAfee attempted to mediate the controversy on air, but didn’t go so far as to apologize for Rodgers’ comments or announce any changes to the setup with Rodgers.

Front Office Sports reported on the fallout within ESPN, indicating ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro and Disney CEO Bob Iger are unlikely to get involved yet. According to FOS, the most audiences can expect is for McAfee and Rodgers to avoid the Epstein discussion next week.

But the bigger bit of news related to the nature of Rodgers’ partnership with McAfee.

“This is a big can of worms for the new PR boss at ESPN [Josh Krulewitz], and for Disney/ABC. McAfee’s show is dangerous—but it gets viewers and makes money,” an ESPN source told AJ Perez and Michael McCarthy of FOS. “Rodgers has a deal with McAfee’s show that would be tough to void. Both Rodgers and McAfee don’t care about repercussions.”

While McAfee confirmed a New York Post report last year that he paid recurring guests like Rodgers and Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, he described those payments as one-off thank yous.

“After that first Aaron Rodgers Tuesday run … one holiday season, you write a little check,” McAfee said on Oct. 12. “Here’s $450,000, it’s nowhere near enough for what you’ve done for us, and I just give it to him.”

McAfee indicated he sent Rodgers similar payments multiple times.

But there was no discussion in the New York Post piece or McAfee’s subsequent response of a “deal.”

Now, perhaps when PMS went to ESPN, Rodgers and his lawyers wanted something in writing to protect him in a situation precisely like this one. Or maybe McAfee offered it to Rodgers to make their partnership more official on both sides. It’s impossible to know.

Either way, this setup reinforces the precarity of ESPN’s situation. Only McAfee is employed by ESPN. So the buck always stops with him. He may be a Disney employee, but any punishments or changes related to the show must go through McAfee. Refusal to make changes or punish would land on McAfee. If Rodgers is technically in McAfee’s employ, the situation is no different with the famous QB.

As the source told FOS, all those layers make it much harder for ESPN to do anything about Rodgers. No matter how mad Kimmel may be.

[Front Office Sports]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.