Pat McAfee gets honest about the justification for his controversial partnership with Aaron Rodgers

Pat McAfee’s first year with ESPN has already been tumultuous.

“The Pat McAfee Show” began airing on ESPN in September — in time for the start of the NFL season — taking over the 12 noon Eastern Time slot formerly held by EPSN’s flagship program, SportsCenter. The move to license McAfee’s program showed that the Worldwide Leader in Sports was starting to embrace the new form of media as McAfee has established himself with a loyal fanbase in the digital space.

But with McAfee’s social media-built persona came his more blunt attitude; He isn’t like the typical sports personalities in suits. McAfee did what he wanted and he ultimately didn’t change the format of his show, at least outside of removing the cursing on live TV.

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One of the parts of the show McAfee didn’t change was his weekly guesting of New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The quarterback is often open about his thoughts, which including spurting out conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine.

These thoughts have led to backlash for McAfee, and he expressed to Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on an episode of “All The Smoke” that he has actually thoroughly grappled about whether it was ethical to continue to give Rodgers the platform.

“There’s a lot of times where I’m like, ‘Do I deserve to have this platform if I don’t know everything about everything,'” McAfee said on the episode that aired on Feb. 29.

He said that he would sometimes be unable to sleep due to contemplating his decision to host Rodgers, and he ended up consulting other sports media members like ESPN colleague Shannon Sharpe.

McAfee said he came to the conclusion that talking to Rodgers was still his own form of journalism.

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“I like having conversations with people,” McAfee said. “You can disagree with them completely, but at least you learn to know where Aaron’s at … In real time, you’re learning about him completely. I feel like that’s a form of journalism as well, even though people won’t really talk about it.”

He also added that he is vaccinated — but he just enjoys having conversations with people even with differing opinions to learn where they are coming from.

McAfee’s approach is similar to that of other popular, albeit controversial, podcast hosts like Joe Rogan. That approach gives a platform for people with differing ideologies for the mainstream to say their piece. The popularity of these types of figures, and the shows that host them, shows that there is an audience who is willing to listen.

The argument against some of these show hosts, however, is their lack of push back whenever their guests say something that they may disagree with. This is the same push back the Sharpe received when comedian Katt Williams appeared on his show and spit out a ton of stories that had no evidence.

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