Pat McAfee, Ian Rapoport, and A.J. Hawk on The Pat McAfee Show on March 7, 2023. Pat McAfee, Ian Rapoport, and A.J. Hawk on The Pat McAfee Show on March 7, 2023.

Usually, hosting a show on ESPN comes with needing to feature ESPN talent as guests. But Pat McAfee says that hasn’t been relayed to him.

McAfee joined the latest episode of Jimmy Traina’s Sports Illustrated Media Podcast to discuss his deal with ESPN, which has received a large amount of negative reaction from fans. Much of the negative reaction directed at McAfee’s deal with ESPN stems from concern that he’ll lose the creative freedom he’s enjoyed as an independent podcast host. One of those freedoms includes booking any guest from any platform.

Years ago, McAfee waged war against ESPN for briefly banning their talent from joining his show. ESPN has often prioritized self-promotion, using their own talent across their own shows and platforms.

McAfee has been able to feature ESPN talent such as Dan Orlovsky and Jeff Passan in recent years, but also welcomes The Athletic/Stadium’s Shams Charania and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport as regular contributors. During his interview with Traina, McAfee was asked if he’ll continue to welcome non-ESPN guests once his show begins airing on ESPN.

“Never been told that I can only have ESPN people on my show,” McAfee said. “That was never even broached by them or by us. Ian is a part of our crew. Ian Rapoport has been part of our crew for a long time. I do believe that we will certainly develop a relationship with [Adam] Schefter as well. And why wouldn’t we? Especially as a show that covers the NFL as we have. But our people will remain our people. But we are very open to meeting and mingling and hopefully putting over ESPN talent that they have on the roster.”

According to McAfee, ESPN’s wealth of talent was actually one of the reason’s he was excited about moving his show to their network. Currently, McAfee books his own guests and he’s eager to rely on ESPN’s rolodex to ease that responsibility.

During his appearance on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, McAfee also stated he expects to have Aaron Rodgers return as a weekly guest for a fourth consecutive NFL season. McAfee added that his show will continue to air from noon – 3pm. It will be available on ESPN’s linear network from noon – 2pm, with the final hour air only on digital platforms. In past seasons, Rodgers joined McAfee’s show every Tuesday in the 2pm hour, which means if that continues, he won’t be on ESPN each week.

McAfee’s interviews with Rodgers generate an immense amount of interest every week, which would seem appealing to ESPN. But considering Rodgers’ willingness to discuss polarizing topics, it will be interesting to see whether ESPN wants the quarterback on their linear network or prefers to keep the interview on digital platforms.

[Sports Illustrated Media Podcast]

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