Pat McAfee reportedly wasn’t happy with FanDuel just a few months prior to the news that he was leaving the company and taking his sports talk show to ESPN.
The former NFL punter-turned-host was upset when FanDuel chose to feature retired tight end Rob Gronkowski in its ad for the 2023 Super Bowl instead of him, people familiar with the situation told The Washington Post.
The commercial spot, which was titled, “Rob Gronkowski’s Kick of Destiny,” aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl between the Chiefs and Eagles on Feb. 12.
The news of McAfee’s move to ESPN — a five-year, $85 million deal — was announced on May 16, and “The Pat McAfee Show” made its ESPN debut on Sept. 7.
Although the report did not elaborate further, the story noted that McAfee is “sensitive to criticism,” according to people who have worked with him — and he has “little regard for those who might suggest they know better, including media executives who don’t know him.”
McAfee didn’t appear bothered by FanDuel’s ad with Gronkowski in the public eye, at least.
At the time, Gronkowski also appeared in a commercial teasing the field goal kick ahead of the Super Bowl — which showed him getting help from former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri.
Gronkowski joined FanDuel as an exclusive brand partner in December 2022.
The former All-Pro tight end also makes regular appearances on FanDuel TV’s morning show, “Up & Adams,” with Kay Adams.
Additionally, Gronkowski makes sportsbook picks and suggested bets, as well as appearances at newly opened retail sportsbook locations and other FanDuel events, according to a press release.
McAfee took a pay cut from his four-year, $120 million deal from FanDuel to take his talents to ESPN.
The outspoken host was already in the midst of a multi-year deal with ESPN to appear on its weekly college football program, “College GameDay,” which was announced in September 2022.
That deal included McAfee covering the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl for ESPN, as well as select appearances on weekday morning editions of “Get Up.”
He also appears on “First Take,” which airs before his two-hour show on ESPN’s TV network — with the third hour airing on its digital platforms.
ESPN executives are pleased with the digital numbers “The Pat McAfee Show” has displayed, according to The Washington Post.
McAfee made headlines this week for comments he made in response to those who question his fit on “College GameDay” during the 2023 college football season.
The host said Sunday that he hasn’t signed a new contract for the show beyond the 2023 season due to fan criticism.