Pat McAfee has paid Aaron Rodgers over $1 million for show appearances: How common is this, what’s usual rate?

Pat McAfee and Aaron Rodgers don’t chat weekly on “The Pat McAfee Show” just because they’re friends. McAfee confirmed the New York Jets quarterback is paid to make his weekly appearances and discuss football. Here’s what you need to know:

  • “Aaron has made over $1,000,000 with us, for sure,” McAfee told The New York Post in a direct message.
  • While it is standard industry practice for players and coaches to be paid for regular TV or radio show appearances, this is the first time McAfee acknowledged compensating Rodgers.
  • Rodgers doesn’t just talk football on “The Pat McAfee Show.” His regular appearances on the show often make headlines for his musings on a range of topics like the possibility of retiring, his darkness retreat last offseason and his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • McAfee addressed paying Rodgers and other guests on his show, saying, “My motto is if I’m making money, let’s try to give this away to everyone that’s helping me make money because everybody invested is going to make our show better.”

How common is it for active players to be paid?

One of the significant changes in the sports media ecosystem is that active players now have access and distribution to create their own media platforms. They can cut out the middle broker, which would be any traditional media outlets. The Kelce brothers are the latest example of this — and we see athlete-led podcasts topping the sport-specific charts everywhere. Athletes can make very good money and control their content. Local deals for athletes with radio stations and television outlets still exist, as do deals with digital players. These are negotiated by the players’ sports agent or a broadcast agent. Often times at a big agency such as CAA, they have agents who specialize in multiple areas of an athlete’s career and interests. The value of the deal would be based on the level of stardom and viewer or listener interest.

In New England, for example, Patriots coach Bill Belichick appears on “The Greg Hill Show” on WEEI Radio on Monday mornings. Quarterback Mac Jones appears on the “Jones and MegO Show” on the same station. These are paid gigs and lucrative ones. When Tom Brady was doing his spots locally, the deal was rumored to be seven figures annually. Most current athletes who appear as a guest on radio or television or digital entitles are not paid but are often promoting something (which could simply be promotion of the team or the player). Younger athletes will sometimes make appearances as a way to get media reps. — Richard Deitsch, senior sports media writer

Is Rodgers’ payout in line with others’?

This is the very top end of the cake. An agent with significant broadcast clients told me Thursday that McAfee, as he told The New York Post, is very generous with these deals when it comes to major figures who have contributed to his show as guests. The agent estimated McAfee paid them between $500,000 and $1.5 million annually. ESPN declined to comment.

But what is important to note: McAfee’s show is licensed by ESPN by agreement, and it is McAfee’s company that would be paying Rodgers. — Deitsch

What else is interesting?

It’s a very newsy break by The New York Post, especially given the comments of Rogers this week. The larger forces at play here are McAfee’s standing at ESPN and that he and his staff clearly dictate the guest list for his show.

ESPN reaps the rewards of newsmakers such as Rodgers and Saban appearing on its airwaves, though the obvious risk here is if a guest says something the public dislikes (but that’s a risk with any guest); it reinforces that there is always big money in sports media for those deemed to bring in an audience. McAfee will likely attract more big names who might want a piece of this sweet pie. — Deitsch

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(Photo: Vincent Carchietta / USA Today)

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