Pat McAfee Show Keisei Tominaga seppuku Screen grab: ‘The Pat McAfee Show’

All things considered, The Pat McAfee Show has managed to largely steer clear of controversy since the NFL season — and Aaron Rodgers’ weekly appearances — ended.

That, however, changed on Monday as producer/personality Boston Connor invoked a Japanese stereotype to make a joke about Nebraska guard Keisei Tominaga.

Boston Connor’s comment came during a bit in which he was playing a character named “Donny Don Don,” who was “reporting” live from “the Rumor Mill,” which happened to look a lot like an actual steel mill. During the segment, Boston Connor — whose real name is Connor Campbell — addressed the fallout from the Cornhuskers’ season-ending loss to Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament, which marked the end of Tominaga’s college career.

“Rumor has it that our favorite player, Keisei Tominaga, is no longer with us. And I’m not saying he’s no longer with us because the Nebraska Cornhuskers lost by 50. He actually performed seppuku on himself,” Campbell said. “Stabbed himself through the chest in the heart because he felt as though he brought a dishonor to himself, his family and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Now that is just what I’m hearing at the rumor mill. I have not confirmed yet with the obituary whether or not he’s actually dead.”

“We’ll confirm it — he’s not dead,” McAfee replied.

“Well, how do you know?” Campbell asked, before pulling up a picture of Tominaga crying at the game and insisting that he flew back to Japan to perform the form of ritualistic suicide.

The bit continued on from there, with Campbell adding additional fake details, such as that Tominaga was given the sword he stabbed himself with by his father and that the sword was made in an image of his father. While playing along, McAfee continued to insist that Tominaga was not, in fact dead.

You can watch the full clip, via McAfee’s X account, below.

This entire exchange was, at best, in poor taste, and at worst, racist.

While the show was clearly joking, it’s not often that you hear suicide being laughed about on ESPN airwaves. (And suicide references have drawn criticism for other broadcasters.) And it’s obviously problematic that Campbell would invoke a Japanese stereotype while doing so, as it’s hard to imagine that he would have made the same joke had the player in question been of a different nationality.

It’s also curious that The Pat McAfee Show, itself, promoted the clip. It’s one thing for an outlet like this one to catch the show saying something controversial. It’s another for the show to use its social media to draw attention to such a comment.

Factor in that Campbell — while still portraying Donny Don Don — would go on to joke about Rece Davis’ betting blunder, and it’s probably safe to assume that Monday’s episode of The McAfee Show ruffled some feathers in Bristol. Not that it would be the first time since the Worldwide Leader started its partnership with the program. And it almost certainly won’t be the last.

[The Pat McAfee Show on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.