NEW YORK — Aaron Rodgers pulled off the impossible.
In a world of countless TV channels, social media, expanding streaming services and other platforms the Free World has yet to discover, he generated a weekly must-see, nearly hour-long TV platform, on Pat McAfee’s ESPN show.
All this content from an active NFL player, albeit one who sat out the Jets' 2023 season recovering from a torn Achilles.
To say the least, Rodgers kept things interesting from 1:05 p.m. to just before 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. And when the dust from Rodgers’ latest “controversy” sort of settled, even his pal, McAfee, ESPN’s latest High Exalted Ruler, breathed a sigh of relief.
It was McAfee who made the then-Green Bay quarterback a regular (during the NFL season) paid (to the tune of $1 million) “guest” on his show four years ago. Now it was McAfee who sounded worn out after dealing with Rodgers’ Jimmy Kimmel tango and the politics of ESPN.
McAfee, on Wednesday, said the fourth season of Aaron Rodgers was over. “… There’s going to be a lot of people happy with that.” McAfee said. “Myself included. To be honest the way it ended it got real loud.”
While Rodgers’ ESPN segments were already scheduled to end whenever the Jets' season expired, the TV benching of the Jets QB (he did make a Thursday cameo appearance on the show to discuss the departures of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick) is still extremely disappointing. In the copycat, often predictable world of sports media, Rodgers’ spontaneity and plain-spoken, edgy analysis would have been welcome throughout the NFL playoffs. It would have been something to look forward to.
No matter if Rodgers veered off course into some of his non-sports opinions, or “conspiracy theories,” or whatever you want to call them. The distractions were more than a reasonable tradeoff for his football insights. That’s the payoff. Or at least it should be.
Judging by the reaction he generates, people who love Rodgers can’t wait to hear what he says. And people who hate him can’t wait to hear what he says.
Rodgers also provides a long runway for the media to express itself. In one sentence on ESPN Radio, NFL reporter Dan Graziano guillotined Rodgers, calling him “a liar” and “a narcissistic con artist.”
Step right up and react. Believe it or not, some of the flummoxed ESPN suits who Rodgers, and McAfee, have turned into punching bags had something to say, even putting words in Rodgers’ mouth.
Unfortunately, unless the execs are judging on pure talent, this “other stuff” could hinder Rodgers’ future if he’s eyeballing any type of NFL-related media work whenever he decides to retire.
If he’s not already scared some of these suits away, Rodgers should be a prime candidate for the booth or studio. He also has the ability to create his own signature platform.
Considering the vanilla state of NFL broadcast booths, Rodgers would bring major buzz to any network or streaming service that hired him. His singular style, and Hall of Fame credentials, should smooth his path to the booth.
Unless NFL TV suits are already constructing roadblocks.
The Brady Effect
There are talking quarterbacks all over the place.
It made us wonder if Fox Sports will get strong opinions out of Tom Brady, who is scheduled to become the Foxies' No.1 NFL analyst next season?
Will Brady’s role expand beyond the booth? Will he appear on FS1 “debate” shows? Fox also could work him in to its Sunday morning pregame offerings. In these venues, Brady could have a direct influence on ratings.
NBC’s stream team
Roger Goodell, and the NFL owners, are worthy targets for their decision to sell the Dolphins-Chiefs wild-card matchup to Peacock streaming service for $110 million. That made the game a pay-per-subscription event for you, the fan.
Question: Why did the NFL’s other TV partners, Fox, CBS and ESPN not only roll over, allowing a playoff game to be streamed but didn’t bite back at the NFL when it allowed NBC, which owns Peacock, to air THREE Super Wild-Card Weekend games while the three other networks air one each?
Most likely, the NFL’s other TV partners didn’t want to cough up $110 mil, even for Patrick Mahomes (and Taylor Swift) Saturday night in prime time.
Yet now that they’ve let one streamer into the playoff mix, there will be no turning back.
The Fox crew covering Patriots-Jets last Sunday successfully captured history as it was being made by Bill Belichick.
Fox’s cameras stayed focused on Belichick as he left the field in what turned out to be his last game as coach of the Patriots.
Viewers saw the coach taking off his headset then moving on to find Robert Saleh. There was a brief hug and then he moved to a longer exchange with Aaron Rodgers. The Foxies followed Belichick into the tunnel until he was out of sight.
Fox’s exit coverage was well worth waiting for.