By Oliver Darcy, CNN
(CNN) — Aaron Rodgers is done as a guest on Pat McAfee’s ESPN show for the remainder of the NFL season.
McAfee, who has drawn significant scrutiny for allowing the injured New York Jets quarterback to appear on his program and deliver lengthy conspiratorial rants, made the announcement Wednesday on his show.
“So ‘Aaron Rodgers Tuesday,’ season four, is done,” McAfee told his audience. “There could be a lot of people that are happy with that. Myself included, to be honest with you. The way it ended, it got real loud.”
A person familiar with the matter told CNN that the decision to end Rodgers’ regular Tuesday appearances was due to his recent behavior, not the conclusion of the regular NFL season. A spokesperson for ESPN declined to comment. During the previous two NFL seasons, Rodgers appeared on McAfee’s program as late as March.
Rodgers ignited controversy over the last week when he falsely suggested that Jimmy Kimmel, the ABC late-night comedian could be linked to the convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who had an intricate web of powerful friends before dying by suicide in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Rodgers’ remark about Kimmel prompted backlash not only because it was unproven and laced with innuendo but because McAfee permitted him to make the remarks on ESPN. Both ABC and ESPN are owned by Disney.
Kimmel, undeniably one of the brightest stars in the Disney universe, fired back at the assertion made on ABC’s sister channel, saying the “reckless words” put his family “in danger” and that if he kept it up, the two of them would “debate the facts further in court.”
McAfee quickly apologized for his role in the matter, but Rodgers did not.
On Monday night, Kimmel spent seven minutes of his opening monologue addressing the matter, predicting that Rodgers would not ultimately apologize for his remarks.
Rodgers responded to Kimmel during his regular appearance on McAfee’s show on Tuesday, declining to apologize for his comments and instead choosing to deliver a conspiratorial monologue in which he spread medical misinformation, assailed the news media, and even attacked an ESPN executive by name.
Rodgers’ repeated promotion of dangerous anti-vaccine rhetoric prompted questions as to whether Bob Iger, the Disney chief executive, would intervene. Reputable media organizations do not allow guests to deliver extended remarks spreading medical misinformation unchecked.
McAfee, who has sported a friendly relationship with Rodgers and confessed he pays him seven figures to appear on his program, said Wednesday that he was “happy” that the controversy that has come with Rodgers’ appearances would be no more because it’s “not what we want to be known for.”
“We’ve given a lot of people who have been waiting for us to fail a lot of ammo, and things to attack us for over the last week,” McAfee said. “And we would love to get back to the point where we just move on.”
“Some of [Rodgers’] thoughts and opinions do piss off a lot of people,” McAfee added. “And I’m pumped that is no longer going to be every single Wednesday of my life — which it has been for the last few weeks.”
Additionally, McAfee wrote on X Wednesday night in part that he wasn’t happy with the situation.
“I certainly don’t love that I’ve found myself in political wars and public beefs because of something that a guest has said on our show … but I think what I’ve come to realize is that it’s gonna come with the territory of this venture. We are much more aware of that now,” he said.
McAfee also left the door open to have Aaron Rodgers back on the program.
“I never said he’ll never be on the show again,” McAfee said. “I hope he chooses to still chat with us. We’ve been lucky the last 4 years to ride the wave of a season with a 4X NFL MVP (2 of which during The ART Era) and get his thoughts along the way.. in real time.”
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