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Pat McAfee wisely distances himself from Aaron Rodgers

Pat McAfee is many things to many people. He should be regarded by everyone as a smart businessman.

His instincts are solid. He knows when he's in check. And he knows when and where to slide the king when that happens.

Aaron Rodgers put Pat in check, twice in two weeks. First, Rodgers made a gratuitous remark about Jimmy Kimmel that sparked an in-house Disney disturbance that forced McAfee to apologize for the show's role in the situation the next day, and that prompted ESPN executive Mike Foss to eventually issue a statement calling Rodgers's implication that Kimmel appears on Jeffrey Epstein's client list a "dumb and factually inaccurate joke."

Second, Rodgers made it worse. Essentially double-dog dared by Kimmel to apologize ("I'm sorry for what I said, I did not mean it the way it came out, and I can understand why you interpreted it the way you did" would have taken 5-7 seconds for Rodgers to say), Rodgers dusted off moldy old COVID talking points at a time when NO ONE wants to hear about or talk about COVID, regardless of where folks stood on mask or no mask, vax or no vax, school or no school, and every other hot-button topic that came from the pandemic.

Rodgers rambled. Rodgers meandered. Rodgers reconfirmed his reputation for being overly sensitive. Rodgers twisted the context of the beef with Kimmel in an effort to alter the meaning of the key remarks. Rodgers took issue with the statement from Foss. It's somewhat surprising, in hindsight, that Rodgers didn't chide McAfee for apologizing for the show's role in the ABC-ESPN brouhaha.

McAfee, to his credit, has realized that none of this is good for him or his show. No one who enjoys his show wants to hear Rodgers spouting off about conspiracy theories and carrying out personal vendettas. McAfee, applying those keen business instincts, wasn't going to let Rodgers blow up McAfee's show.

McAfee made it clear on Wednesday that Rodgers won't be back again this season.

"Aaron Rodgers Tuesday Season Four is done," McAfee said. "There’s gonna be a lot of people that are happy with that, myself included to be honest with you. The way it ended, it got real loud. Real loud. I’m happy that is not gonna be my [social-media] mentions going forward."

McAfee then listed the various folks who are working against him, from agents (he doesn't have one) to others at ESPN who were leapfrogged by his arrival to mid-level producers for whom he has no apparent regard.

"And over the last week, we have certainly given them all a lot of stuff to get mad about," McAfee said. "And become loud about. We have messed up in that particular aspect. And be ‘we’ I mean we’re a conversation show, people are having conversations. We live in a country that has freedom of speech, but also you’re gonna have to deal with the consequences of your freedom of speech. So what I’m saying is we’ve given a lot of people who have been waiting for us to fail a lot of ammo and things to attack us for over the last week, and we would love to just move on and continue to silence all the haters over here who can’t negotiate as good as I can, all the people over here who can’t create a show as good as us, and all the people up here who are just gonna always be here and they’re gonna hustle and do their thing, which I respect. But we need to do that. And that is our focus, that is our goal."

McAfee said, of Rodgers, that "some of his thoughts and opinions do piss off a lot of people, and I’m pumped that that is no longer gonna be every single Wednesday of my life which it has been for the last few weeks."

The real question is whether it will ever be another Wednesday again for McAfee. Will Rodgers be back next season? McAfee no longer needs Rodgers to make his show work. (If it's true that McAfee is paying Rodgers $1 million or more per year for his appearances, it's just not worth it.) Thus, it's possible that the relationship has run its course, and that it's time for both sides to move on.

Even though McAfee was careful to praise Rodgers and to not attack him in any way for the shitstorm Rodgers created, McAfee might have said just enough to get Rodgers to choose on his own not to come back in 2024.

Of course, that likely wouldn't be the end of it. If it's done for good and not just for now, Rodgers inevitably will show up somewhere and attack McAfee for giving in to the "woke mob" or not defending Rodgers or selling out or whatever.

If he does, so what? It's straight from the Aaron Rodgers always-the-victim playbook. McAfee will thrive without Rodgers. With Rodgers, McAfee risked squandering his success and the success of his show.

On Wednesday, McAfee gave Rodgers a hint. While the full extent of his intellect remains debatable, Rodgers presumably is smart enough to get the hint, and to hit the road.