Pat McAfee’s post-NFL media career has been a whirlwind, to say the least.
ESPN announced Wednesday that McAfee, a former NFL punter who spent eight seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (2009-16), is joining “College GameDay” as a full-time analyst. McAfee’s deal with ESPN is a multyear agreement that includes other appearances on the network, as well.
“I had to talk to WWE first and see what their thoughts were,” McAfee said. “I was thinking about maybe doing both. How do I go about doing it? … The original thought for me was, ‘I can do SmackDown and GameDay. I can do it.’ The folks at WWE — who I have nothing but love, respect and appreciation for. I’m talking new regime, old regime, whoever you think is in charge over there, I have nothing but great feelings towards. So I reach out to them, I chit-chat with them. They actually were the ones that said, ‘Hey man, if you’re going to do GameDay, which is a great opportunity, congratulations’ — I think WWE has been a part of GameDay a few different times — ‘You cannot be traveling overnight for the entirety of the season. It’s not good for your health. It’s not good for your family. It’s not good for anything. Whenever the time is right, we will have you definitely be back in our family.’ So, SmackDown will be on hold for a little bit, me commentating, while I do College GameDay. I’m still very much in the WWE family.”
McAfee has served as an analyst with WWE since April 2021, usually working the “SmackDown” broadcasts on Friday nights alongside Michael Cole. He also had matches at WrestleMania 38 and the most recent SummerSlam, flashing impressive in-ring ability in addition to his skills behind the microphone.
McAfee, who signed a multiyear contract extension with WWE in July, now will shift his attention to college football, though, beginning this Saturday in Austin, Texas, before the Alabama vs. Texas game. He’ll be a staple in ESPN’s Saturday morning college football coverage and will continue to record his podcast Monday through Friday, with wrestling temporarily on the back burner but still near and dear to his heart.
“Because it is Saturday morning, to make that decision really be a firm yes for me, I wanted to talk to the people from WWE,” McAfee said. “Because I hold my role as a SmackDown commentator as high as anything else that I do. Because not only is it a dream for me since I was a little kid. But there’s other little kids out there who are hopefully getting their imagination and their goals and dreams created, just like I was when I was a kid watching WWE, and somebody could go on and have bigger dreams than people who are around them could ever fathom or people in the city where they’re from could ever understand. I think WWE does that for kids. So every time I got an opportunity to get on a microphone there, I wanted to honor that.”
McAfee has been an extremely busy man since shockingly leaving the NFL for Barstool Sports in 2017. And it’s all led to his latest endeavor, with ESPN, where football fans will be able to enjoy his entertainment value from college campuses across America.