Last week, reports emerged that Pat McAfee was considering canceling his four-year, $120 million-plus deal with FanDuel and that ESPN was the frontrunner to land him on their show. This is a high-risk, high-reward move for ESPN, and it remains to be seen how it will play out.
One reason ESPN may be interested in McAfee is his appeal to a younger audience. As a former Pro Bowl punter, WWE wrestler, College GameDay analyst, and host of his own YouTube show, McAfee has a fanbase that skews younger.
However, the big question is whether McAfee can work under the Disney-owned ESPN umbrella. He has made it clear that he won’t change his style to fit the network’s standards, which may force ESPN to do things differently.
If ESPN does sign McAfee, it will be an attempt to be edgy again, something the network hasn’t done successfully with a high-profile personality in some time. While ESPN has had successful “do it yourself” types like Bill Simmons and Dan Le Batard, those runs have not gone smoothly.
ESPN may also be interested in leveraging McAfee’s media sensibilities to start a new company within ESPN. McAfee has worked at various media outlets since retiring from the NFL, including Barstool Sports, Fox, and SiriusXM.
However, McAfee’s potential move to ESPN is complicated by his existing contract with FanDuel. While the terms of that contract are not known, FanDuel apparently agreed to keep him out of a competing deal. McAfee will have to pay his family and cover all costs associated with terminating that contract.
Finally, in unrelated news, it remains to be seen how Tom Brady’s potential ownership of the Raiders will affect his chances of joining Fox Sports’ broadcast booth once he retires from the NFL. Our Brady Meter™ currently stands at 47 wins and 53 losses after ESPN reported the potential ownership stake.