ESPN broadcasters Pat McAfee (left) and Kirk Herbstreit before the game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Utah Utes at the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; ESPN broadcasters Pat McAfee (left) and Kirk Herbstreit before the game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Utah Utes at the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pat McAfee said last week that he was about 10 days away from making a huge announcement about the future of The Pat McAfee Show, presumably around the company or network that he would sign an exclusive deal with after ending his FanDuel partnership.

All signs have seemed to point to ESPN for a while now and the NY Post’s Andrew Marchand reported earlier this week that the Worldwide Leader has indeed emerged as the favorite to land him. Given that he’s already returning for another season as an analyst on College Gameday and could do more simulcasts during the college football season, there’s already a well-worn path to partnership here.

While it all makes sense on paper, WFAN’s Gregg Giannotti wonders if the free-wheeling and independent McAfee understands what he’s getting himself into, especially since it would mean prematurely ending a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel where he presumably gets free reign.

“ESPN clearly is a content-controlling entity and probably has gotten even worse over the years with some of the Disney stuff that has gone on and has leaped into ESPN and political leanings and the things that they cover and everything else,” Giannotti said. “Why would – because if I’m him as I try to put myself in his shoes – I’ve got this great deal, I’ve got this creative control, I can say whatever I want, but now I’m going to go over to [Disney], who [is laying] off 7,000 employees and is probably going to have their hands in everything that I do?”

Giannotti’s co-host, Boomer Esiason, pondered if McAfee might be willing to give up that freedom for some stability given that he’s a new father.

“He and his wife just had a baby,” Esiason said. “There’s maybe some pressures and stress that we don’t see that he has to deal with on a daily basis that he wants to kind of maybe get away from, but he also does College GameDay too, right? He has a relationship there.”

Esiason added that it was his understanding that, under an ESPN deal, only one hour of McAfee’s three-hour show would air on linear television, giving him the other two hours to keep the show as it is. McAfee has previously told his audience that the show will always be free to watch. That led to the two hosts questioning if that kind of setup would work given the way the show operates now.

“You’re telling me the other two hours would be the show that he’s doing now where he’s saying whatever he wants,” Giannotti asked, “but then that one hour [on] ESPN, he’s going to be trotting through Tim Kurkjian and all these other schmucks that they used to put on ESPN Radio before it went to the toilet?”

“I don’t know if they’ll put the ‘car wash’ kind of theme through all of that, but you remember he has Aaron Rodgers as a weekly guest, and that certainly has raised the profile of his program,” countered Esiason. “He’s not stupid about that. But I would think, yeah, maybe he just doesn’t want to deal with all the machinations of running his company.”

[Boomer & Gio, Barrett Sports Media]

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