On Tuesday, Pat McAfee was the very first person to report that “friend of the show” Aaron Rodgers was going to return to the Green Bay Packers instead of retiring or demanding a trade. McAfee noted in his announcement that there was “no deal in place” at the moment but one was coming soon.

“According to my sources…[Aaron Rodgers] will officially be returning to the Green Bay Packers,” wrote McAfee. “There is no deal in place currently but there is said to be a cap-friendly deal on the way.”

A minute later, NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported the same, except he included the specifics of a contract between the two sides.

“The Packers and MVP QB Aaron Rodgers have agreed to terms on a 4-year, $200M deal that makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history, sources say,” per Rapoport. “He gets a whopping $153M guaranteed and his cap number goes down. A monstrous commitment by GB for years to come.”

And then a few minutes after that, McAfee responded that per his “source,” whom everyone already knew was Rodgers himself, the numbers that Rapoport noted are “not accurate.”

McAfee then spent much of the day slamming Rapoport’s report as “categorically false,”

“Maybe that deal was presented,” McAfee added. “Maybe this isn’t about being the highest-paid player in the NFL. Maybe, this is about Aaron just wanting to have a little bit more respect in the building and maybe it is a cap-friendly deal that will nowhere be $200 million because he wants his friends back who are also up for deals.”

Rapoport, who was clearly aware of the pushback from McAfee, did not change his reporting. To be fair, The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman echoed McAfee’s report that, while Rodgers was indeed coming back to Green Bay, no contract has been agreed to.

Rodgers himself even chimed in on Tuesday to clarify the situation, seemingly unhappy with the way Rapoport’s contract numbers had taken over the story.

Hey everyone, just wanted to clear some things up,” wrote Rodgers. “YES I will be playing with the [Green Bay Packers] next year, however, reports about me signing a contract are inaccurate, as are the supposed terms of the contract I “signed”. I’m very excited to be back.”

For the record, Rapoport didn’t say that Rodgers signed anything, only that the terms were agreed upon.

With that, however, McAfee took a victory lap about being correct.

It would appear then that the matter was closed until the terms of whatever deal Rodgers and the Packers end up agreeing to is officially signed. However, McAfee kicked off Wednesday’s show by pointing out that many people were still running with the contract numbers that Rapoport had noted, signaling that this wasn’t an issue he was going to let go of.


So where does all of this leave us?

1. Let’s all remember that we literally just went through something like this. Adam Schefter reported that Tom Brady was retiring, Brady got pissed off that he couldn’t control the narrative and denied it. People slammed Schefter and called him wrong. Schefter stuck to his guns and then Brady retired a few days later, effectively confirming the initial report.

2. As noted during the Brady Retirement brouhaha, reporters like Ian Rapoport don’t just report things for the sake of it. Yes, they might get something wrong once in a while, but it’s rare and their entire livelihood is based on only reporting what is factual.

3. We know that Aaron Rodgers has issues with the media, is extremely soft-skinned when he can’t control the narrative, and has a vested interest in downplaying his eventual contract numbers. He’s already used McAfee as a vessel to share that earlier reports of his desire for a $50 million/year contract were not true, so he obviously thinks that he’ll be seen as selfish or greedy if those numbers bear out, especially as the Packers struggle with cap space. The fact that Rodgers felt the need to personally tweet this shows us just how important it is to him.

4. Rodger is the story here. He’s the person being reported on. However, he’s not the whole story. The whole story is his contract with the Green Bay Packers, which involves other people. This means that what he says isn’t the whole story. So while he might say something that sounds like 100% fact, he has a vested interest in a version of the truth, so we can’t automatically assume that what he says is gospel and that Rapoport is “wrong.”

5. We know for a fact that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t always tell the truth.

6. Pat McAfee is essentially Aaron Rodgers’ PR person at this point. As we’ve discussed before, Rodgers uses McAfee’s show as his safe space because he knows that he’s not going to get asked tough questions and he’s never going to be forced to explain himself if he comes on and, say, tries to spread false medical advice or misinformed ideas about how vaccines work. He also knows that McAfee needs him because his appearances draw audiences and give the show a serious PR bump. So McAfee is less a reporter and more an extension of Aaron Rodgers Media at this point.

And as for McAfee, there’s something ironic about watching him complain about the “spread of misinformation” when Rodgers has used his platform to do that so many times. And when challenged on it, Pat’s response has always been, essentially, I’m just providing a forum, it’s not my responsibility to push back on that, absolving himself of the responsibility during a pandemic in which it would be fair to say misinformation and lies led to injuries and the unnecessary deaths of many people. He’d point to the fact that he had other people on the show who provided more medically sound views, even though neither person was a medical expert.

All of which is to say that if you’re going to have a platform like McAfee’s, and it is a very successful one at that, you don’t get to pick and choose when you’re a journalist and when you’re an entertainer. And when you’re essentially acting as the mouthpiece of a public figure, you also need to tread lightly when it comes to discrediting the reporting of someone who does it for a living and isn’t beholden to whether or not the subject is still your buddy afterward.

Perhaps we’ll find out that the contract details are different than how Rapoport said they were, or perhaps his public outing of the figures will cause the contract language to change. But either way, it’s good to keep some perspective about who we’re talking about and what angles everyone here is taking.

What we all seem to be in agreement about is that we don’t want to see misinformation spread unchecked on the internet. Glad to hear Pat’s finally on board with that.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.