This isn’t (completely) a success piece on Pat McAfee. It’s extra about how we should always categorize what McAfee does, as a result of The Athletic — that sports activities website owned by The New York Instances — named him its Sports activities Media Particular person of the 12 months, and that suggests that he’s a journalist.
What McAfee does has notes of journalism. He has a present the place he interviews athletes, talks X’s and O’s on ESPN School Gameday, and fills the function of analyst on WWE’s Friday Evening Smackdown, which is loosely a sport. (Deadspin covers wrestling prefer it’s a sport, however nitpicks storylines as in the event that they have been status TV.)
Nonetheless, McAfee is simply as a lot a journalist as he was a soccer participant. Punters and kickers are folks, too, but when Jay Feeley calls a recreation the one time I worth what he says is when it pertains to the kicking recreation. The identical logic applies to McAfee.
Until he’s dropping his shit over a punter, the remainder of what he says — whereas knowledgeable — needs to be handled as leisure. He had one groundbreaking second this 12 months, which I’ll get to, and the best way it was dealt with was not in any class I took. (I’ve a communications information editorial diploma, which is half the explanation for this rant.)
I feel McAfee is nice on Gameday, and that’s an ideal discussion board for his schtick. He can name Peyton Manning “Sheriff,” co-conduct the UT band, and backflip into the Tennessee River all he needs. Being charismatic doesn’t make him any extra of a journalist than Lee Corso.
The Athletic lauding McAfee as this beacon of the business overlooks the missteps he deliberately makes. Dan Patrick is pleasant with plenty of athletes, too. Nonetheless, when he has one on, they’ll count on a troublesome query or two. McAfee has unfettered entry to Aaron Rodgers as a result of he lets Rodgers say something he needs, and McAfee nods like he’s the Inexperienced Bay QB’s therapist.
Actual journalists would rebuke No. 12 for his stance on the vaccine, and name him out for making an attempt to tie inoculations to the “woke mob.” Simply because it’s coming from largely Democrats doesn’t make it woke.
McAfee did break the largest Rodgers story of the 12 months. The QB first revealed that he’s no extra immunized than the following loon taking ivermectin, and may’ve obtained a shit ton of pushback if not an outright snigger when he stated he sought out podcaster Joe Rogan for recommendation on different vaccines.
Who awarded Rogan a Ph.D.? I do know he didn’t get one from an accredited college. However no, McAfee appeared on with that “I’m listening” face as if it was 3 a.m. and Rodgers was pitching him his thought for a bar and grill.
Different journalists did yeoman’s work in 2022, and a man like Baxter Holmes — a James Beard Award winner — whose reporting led to Robert Sarver placing the Phoenix Suns up on the market, deserves some acknowledgment. How in regards to the New York Instances’ Jenny Vrentas*, who dug up the story detailing Deshaun Watson’s assembly with 66 totally different masseuses over a 17-month span, and discovering that the Houston Texans enabled their QB’s habits. The Texans have since settled a swimsuit over the accusations, and all of the thorough reporting undoubtedly performed a consider Watson’s suspension being appealed and upped to 11 video games.
(*As said above, the NYT really owns The Athletic, which is hysterical as a result of they got down to finish newspapers. Even when it wasn’t a battle of curiosity, Vrentas isn’t successful The Athletic’s award.)
I get that the majority sports activities media followers most likely have by no means heard Vrentas converse, or seen her do a gainer off a houseboat. The one time Holmes will get air time is for random hits about items he’s penned. Within the grand scheme of sports activities journalism, these tales are considerably extra essential than McAfee’s model of reactions.
Now that sports activities media has devolved from really reporting tales to reacting to video games with inane arguments that may by no means be settled, the loudest, most likable individual will get the award mainly for not being overwhelming. (Sure, I’m completely conscious of how ironic that is as I’m writing it.) A lot about how we really feel towards broadcasters or personalities comes from whether or not they’re new or recent. Tony Romo was nice till it turned an act. I didn’t fall for it as a result of fuck the Cowboys, however I feel even Jim Nantz is getting sick of Romo’s vitality.
The perfect factor about McAfee is he’s tolerable. That’ll get examined quickly sufficient as he turns into more and more omnipresent. Because it stands, he’s fucking unbelievable — that was sarcasm — which is why he was named The Athletic’s Individuals Particular person Media Particular person of the 12 months.
In case you’re questioning what’ll draw extra clicks: McAfee or hard-nosed investigative journalism? It’s McAfee. I even wrote about him earlier this 12 months, and it skewed positively as a result of he is superb at his job. What precisely is his job — that’s a special story.