Thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ comments about Jimmy Kimmel and the ensuing controversy, Pat McAfee has been no stranger to the spotlight the past few weeks.
He’s off to a heck of a start this week, too. The NFL punter-turned-media mogul used Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an opportunity to claim that he’s been canceled by Democrats and Republicans alike.
“Obviously it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He had a dream,” McAfee said on Monday’s episode of The Pat McAfee Show, doing his best impression of the famous civil rights leader. “And I think LANK was one of the closest we’ve had to potentially that dream coming to fruition. So let’s realize that as we look around and that we’re maybe more close than we’ve ever been.
“And there’s an election about to take place [this] year where we need to remember that we are more close than we have ever been. And people could potentially try to drive us apart from the outside looking in. Now, as somebody who was canceled by both parties last week, both of them canceled me. Two political parties canceled me last week and we are still alive. Let’s remember we don’t need all the outside noise. All we need is a little bit of love. Which is what we have for all the people who have good intentions every single day when they wake up, just like us. Now with that being said, football is awesome.”
Pat McAfee on Martin Luther King Jr. Day: "He had a dream and I think LANK was one of the closest we've had to potentially that dream coming to fruition. So let's realize that as we look around and realize that we're maybe more close than we've ever been. And there's an election… pic.twitter.com/IUe6o4iwtW
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 15, 2024
If McAfee were truly canceled to the degree in which he claims, he likely wouldn’t still be on Disney airwaves. And although he has received some pushback for not being more critical of Rodgers during his weekly interviews, most of the criticism has been directed at the Jets quarterback, who has consistently used the ESPN platform to wax poetic about COVID-19 and government conspiracies.
While McAfee’s comments regarding his alleged cancellation were likely an exaggeration, the fallout from the Rodgers controversy has clearly stuck with him. It was also obviously a questionable decision to use Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the jumping-off point to make such a claim, in addition to using the holiday as an opportunity to reference “LANK” — an acronym made popular by Alabama football players that has been perceived to be a double-entendre invoking a racial slur.
All of this on a show McAfee says is not specifically designed to not discuss politics.
Rodgers’ weekly appearances may be over for the football season, but the same can’t be said of the controversy that has followed The Pat McAfee Show during its time on ESPN. If nothing else, these comments won’t do much to quell the notion that one of ESPN’s biggest stars is also one of its most sensitive.