The Pat McAfee and Aaron Rodgers song and dance flew too close to the sun

The segments full of conspiracy theories and NFL report rebuttals on ESPN's airways might have finally hit a breaking point.

The Pat McAfee and Aaron Rodgers song and dance flew too close to the sun
Photo Credit: ESPN

Last week, Fox Sports' Nick Wright spoke about Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and likened his thinking to being a relative at Thanksgiving: "Nobody wants to get caught in a corner with because this guy tells you the hard truths." Those "truths" have regularly found a home on ESPN's The Pat McAfee Show. In this weekly segment, Rodgers made jokes about Travis Kelce and his Pfizer ads and bizarrely challenged him and Dr. Anthony Fauci to a team debate with Robert F. Kennedy. He's also used McAfee's show to fire back at various journalists, and who can forget the "darkness retreat" as he was deciding his playing future.

It's all fun, games, and ratings until you start embedding people within unfounded conspiracy theories. Tuesday was not the first time Rodgers has dabbled into the Epstein waters. In February of 2023, Rodgers indicated the government may have been involved in various disasters to distract everyone from the released client list. When ESPN launched The Pat McAfee Show under their umbrella in September, they knew what they were getting. The nature of sports media for the company has changed—less emphasis on the Sportscenters and analysts-driven shows of yesterday and more focus on debate shows and personalities. McAfee's brand is strong, so they made the move.

However, it's interesting to see the shifting ideology of ESPN itself. In 2017, the declaration was that the worldwide leader in sports was not a political organization — attaching itself to the "stick to sports" mantra many people blanketed athletes with. With the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, the world couldn't look away from police brutality and racial injustice. Thus, it was almost impossible not to speak about sports without acknowledging the demographic comprising most NFL and NBA rosters. Still, that seemed to be the exception to the rule. With Aaron Rodgers's weekly segment, he has been allowed to spread his thoughts unopposed with no sense of the weeks falling off.

And then it happened. Yesterday, during the show, he hinted that ABC talk show host Jimmy Kimmel's name would appear on the Epstein list with no evidence. Kimmel, of course, fired back, given the weight of that accusation, and possibly hinted at legal action. That prompted McAfee to do some damage control on his show today, and claim Rodgers was "talking his sh*t." Many would say falsely indicating a person is tied to a rampant sex offender, and trafficker is not the way to have fun in the slightest.

Somehow, this particular partnership was always going to go down this road. Rodgers had a lot of time on his hands recovering from an Achilles tear (which Rodgers said he'd come back ahead of schedule from), so it gave him more time to double down on whatever fantastical thing he had read or searched for. It is bigger than somebody's vaccination status or views on them. However, the bromance between The Pat McAfee Show and its reoccurring guest may have finally hit a roadblock. If this is the end, let's not forget all the parties willingly gave their platform to allow it to happen.