Pat McAfee scoffs at NFL rules around tipping picks. Via X.

Some of the biggest drama around NFL Draft coverage is whether or not the broadcast networks (or reporters) should be able to tip picks when everything is known at least a few picks in advance. But these days there is at least a gentlemen’s agreement that the networks televising the draft won’t tip picks to preserve the drama and entertainment value of the draft as a television product. Of course, that does not apply to Pat McAfee.

Pat McAfee is not one to follow the traditional rules of broadcast television, after all, that’s part of his whole appeal to the masses and why ESPN made such a huge and unique investment in him and his show.

McAfee’s anti-authority personality isn’t just a gimmick that might be more of a fit for his WWE gig, it’s very much real. After calling out Norby Williamson live on air and launching a remarkably public feud with one of the most powerful executives at ESPN, it was Williamson that was shown the door. He’s also probably the only person walking planet earth who told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to “nut up” and then been granted an interview with him.

So if McAfee wanted to spoil picks on his live YouTube-ESPN+ stream of the NFL Draft, he was going to do it. And he was going to taunt the NFL’s wishes in the process.

“The Dolphins pick is in, we know what it is, we’re not allowed to say it,” McAfee said as Miami was on the clock. He also shared that the show had “ruffled feathers” during their Thursday night live broadcast of Round 1 which featured the debut of Bill Belichick.

So then instead of spoiling the pick outright, McAfee and company gave as many hints as possible that it would be Chop Robinson going to the Dolphins, which also included “Mad” Mel Kiper giving a more profane and direct message to anyone at the NFL that might be offended they weren’t playing by the rules.

McAfee’s stream on draft night was meant to provide an alternative to the television broadcasts. It’s a very online audience to begin with, so most people watching probably knew the picks ahead of time thanks to Twitter and social media. Reporters not paying a rights fee to the NFL are free to break whatever news they want.

You’re not watching a Pat McAfee stream for the sanctity of the draft process – you’re watching to be entertained and to embrace the rebellious nature of the show. If Bill Belichick is going to be a natural and be astonishingly insightful and refreshing in his analyst debut, that’s just a bonus.

McAfee’s flaunting of NFL broadcast traditions certainly raised at least a few eyebrows, though. In writing about the broadcast at Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio wrote, “I still don’t plan to tip picks in the future, because the fans don’t want it. But I will say this — I don’t want to hear any more complaining by the league office to NBC about anything I write here.”

Given his popularity, power, and influence, McAfee is the only media personality that can get away with doing a lot of things that others can’t, and he has no problem making the absolute most of it.