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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Pat McAfee Could Make Surprise Appearance At Disney Upfront

  • Disney and ESPN meet with advertisers in New York today.
  • McAfee has said ‘creative control’ is ‘no-negotiable.’
Pat McAfee
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Walt Disney’s Co. ESPN could showcase Pat McAfee at today’s upfront presentation in New York, said sources.

Speculation has been building that the former NFL punter will exit his $120 million deal with FanDuel to bring part of his eponymous YouTube show to ESPN. 

TV networks like ESPN use the upfronts to announce key new hires and shows. Fox Sports, for example, trotted out new Major League Baseball analyst Derek Jeter at its upfront on Monday with Alex Rodriguez and Michael Strahan.

The former Indianapolis Colts punter already works as an analyst on ESPN’s “College GameDay.” He was a frequent guest on Mike Greenberg’s “Get Up” morning show. He’s a personality in the WWE. He also works with ex-teammate Peyton Manning Omaha Production for alternate telecasts of college football.

The 36-year-old recently tweeted out a picture of himself meeting with Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger. 

“A weatherman and a truck driver’s kid chatted about life today,” tweeted McAfee, with the hashtag #UpToSomethingSZN.

McAfee likes making a big entrance. His surprise appearance at WrestleMania 39 was not advertised or touted in advance by the wrestling promotion. Disney could also introduce McAfee via video, which is common for celebrity appearances at the upfronts.

But McAfee and Disney/ESPN are not necessarily a match made in heaven.

On his show Friday, the often foul-mouthed McAfee said he’d insist on full creative control.

“That is something that is non-negotiable…We ain’t changing,” he said.

ESPN has clashed with big talents like Dan Le Batard, Jemele Hill, and Bill Simmons, who wanted the freedom to say what they wanted.

While McAfee swears on the air, he generally avoids the third rail of national politics that led to Le Batard and Hill suspensions. 

McAfee is currently in the second year of a four-year contract with FanDuel, which pays him $30 million annually.

But he’s mercurial – often leaving employers like Barstool Sports, DAZN, and SiriusXM before his deals were up. He and his wife just had a baby girl.

“The exact amount of money McAfee would earn in a deal is unknown, though it is expected to be in the range of eight figures per year,” wrote the New York Post. “It may be less than the FanDuel deal of $30 million-plus a year he potentially would be walking away from.”

He would be the latest big-money hire by ESPN at a time when the network is laying off employees to comply with Disney’s demand to shed 7,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in savings company-wide.

Disney’s upfront is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

ESPN declined to comment. McAfee could not be reached.

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