Pat McAfee, one of the highest-paid personalities in sports media, wants to make ESPN mass layoffs history.
Tweeting hours after another round of ESPN layoffs hitting about 20 prominent on-air personalities, McAfee said he remains “pumped” to be joining the network despite the cutbacks and online vitriol sent his way, and added he wished he could have worked with some of the departing broadcasters.
“Some absolute legends, that we all respect, in the sports world were trending for losing jobs,” McAfee said. “That sucks … no matter how you slice it.”
McAfee’s deal to join ESPN, reportedly $85 million over five years, has been a key point of frustration, both inside and out of the network. That largess arrives just as parent company Disney is slashing 7,000 jobs — about 3% of its global workforce — in a bid to cut $5.5 billion in costs.
In his lengthy tweet, McAfee said he “did a lot of reflecting about our show’s journey while I was getting murdered on the internet.”
“All roads lead back to how honored I am to be the leader of such a talented group and how lucky I am to be part of this team,” McAfee continued. “We’re gonna continue to control the things we can control.”
McAfee will face a tough fight to prevent more ESPN cutbacks. The network is now in 72.5 million homes, according to Nielsen, down 28% from a peak of 100.1 million in 2011 — and the yearly subscriber losses are accelerating.