ESPN cuts pay during COVID, inks Pat McAfee for $85M, vax jokes with Aaron Rodgers

ESPN cuts pay during COVID, inks Pat McAfee for $85M, vax jokes with Aaron Rodgers

Dancing with the devil is a personal choice. But when the heat from that tango singes others, it becomes a problem. Some ESPN employees have to be burning mad over how they lost money due to pay cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic, all for the worldwide leader to spend almost $100 million for Pat McAfee to allow Aaron Rodgers to make light of vaccines and the global pandemic on their airwaves.

This is why you never overpay for a punter.

After previously calling Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce “Mr. Pfizer” — because he joined their ad campaign — Aaron Rodgers, who plays for a team owner who is an heir of the company that created one of the first COVID vaccines, returned to the scene of the crime on ESPN’s Pat McAfee Show to challenge Kelce to a vaccine debate with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“Mr. Pfizer said he didn’t think he’d be in a vax war with me. This ain’t a war, homie, this is conversation,” Rodgers said with a laugh on the ESPN show.

“But if you want to have some sort of duel, debate, have me on the podcast. Come on the show! Let’s have a conversation. Let’s do it like in ‘John Wick 4,’ so we both have a second — someone to help us out.”

For far too long, McAfee hasn’t been held accountable for amplifying Rodgers’ fake news. It’s as if there haven’t been over 103 million confirmed cases in the United States that have led to almost 1.2 million deaths. It’s like there haven’t been spikes throughout 2023.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, ESPN asked its top talent to take 15 percent pay cuts. Some of the company’s top executives took a hit of 20 and 30 percent, as the cuts were to prevent furloughs for other employees.

“We are asking about 100 of our commentators to join with our executives and take a temporary salary reduction. These are challenging times, and we are all in this together,” ESPN said in a statement.

But does that ‘“all in this together” mentality work now with the clown show that McAfee and Rodgers have become?

Mind you, ESPN just recently settled a lawsuit with former host Sage Steele after she filed for being disciplined for comments she made about the company’s policy requiring employees to get vaccinated. And while Steele has always, and will always, be a problematic figure, her beef with the company was legit given the way they’ve operated.

When ESPN signed McAfee to a deal that was reportedly worth $85 million for five years, it was after the company had endured multiple rounds of layoffs that left hundreds of front-facing talent and behind-the-scenes employees without jobs. The timing of it was odd at best, and insensitive at worst. And now some of the same employees who took a pay cut on the chin “for the sake of the coworkers” are watching their company allow McAfee to keep bringing Rodgers on to joke about the very thing that caused them to lose money.

Aaron Rodgers keeps going on Pat McAfee’s show because he’s turned it into a “safe space” where he’s allowed to go unchecked for his words and actions, despite the effects it could have on others. When you’re ESPN’s golden boy, you get to do whatever you want especially since the company’s decision to slap a “special warning” on the screen seems to be their way of “covering their tracks.” To them, it’s viewed as money well spent. Remember that the next time they raise their prices on your ESPN+ subscription. 

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.