1. Over the summer, Sports Illustrated put out “The Power List,” where we looked at the 50 most influential figures and forces in sports. Pat McAfee made the list, and I wrote the blurb. Here was my opening sentence: “There isn’t a hotter sports media star today than this 36-year-old.”
I may have undersold McAfee’s status based on the weekend he just experienced.
When McAfee signed a huge deal with ESPN months ago, there were many in his fan base who were unhappy with the host, bizarrely claiming he had sold out. There were also some who criticized ESPN for partnering with someone who is the opposite of traditional media and, GASP!, uses curse words.
McAfee even discussed the backlash (cheap plug coming) on SI Media With Jimmy Traina.
I think it’s safe to say after this weekend that McAfee’s fans and ESPN should feel like they hit the jackpot.
Here’s the guest list McAfee provided for his audience Friday, when he took his show on the road to Boulder, Colorado: Deion Sanders, The Rock, Aaron Rodgers.
Think about that. In one show, McAfee had the hottest coach in college football who is behind the most-buzzed-about story line in college football. He had the first interview with the player who was responsible for the No. 1 story line in the NFL after his season-ending injury. Oh, and for good measure, he threw in an absurdly popular movie star/wrestler/pop culture icon.
This came on the heels of McAfee’s announcing that Rodgers, Nick Saban and J.J. Watt would be weekly guests on his program.
A few hours after McAfee’s ESPN show ended, he showed up, expectedly, on SmackDown, which took place in Denver. And that SmackDown appearance just happened to feature McAfee in a segment with The Rock.
The next morning, McAfee was on the College GameDay set, where, again, he chopped it up with Deion and The Rock.
Two things struck me about McAfee’s dynamic weekend. One, after some of his fans voiced their displeasure about his joining ESPN, I haven’t seen or heard one complaint from them now that the show is up and running on the World Wide Leader. Two, no matter how you feel about McAfee, his work ethic is impressive. The guy doesn’t seem to sleep much. You’d think he might take it easy after the weekend he had, but there he was Sunday tweeting all day about NFL action. If you are a McAfee fan, you can’t deny that he doesn’t ever disappoint or half-ass when it comes to providing content.
ESPN and McAfee unfairly took some heat when McAfee’s deal was announced around the time the company was having mass layoffs. I said at the time, that one thing had nothing to do with the other. ESPN is a business trying to make money. They made a deal with McAfee to make money. This weekend showed why ESPN wanted to partner up with McAfee.
ESPN executives have to be over the moon with the content and buzz that McAfee has given them, especially on social media.
And in his two weeks on ESPN airwaves, he’s dropped only one f-bomb.
Can't catch 'em all pic.twitter.com/lzQEWWyqfT— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 12, 2023
2. Regarding The Rock’s surprise appearance on SmackDown Friday night, more than four million people have watched the full segment, which included one of the loudest pops he’s ever gotten.
As for the TV ratings, SmackDown drew 2.4 million viewers, up 24% from the previous week, and was the No. 1 show on broadcast television that night. And that was all with zero promotion for The Rock’s appearance.
I was - I’m still - completely blown away by this crowd reaction in Denver this past Friday night on SMACKDOWN.— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) September 17, 2023
My appearance was a 💯 surprise to everyone and this crowd of 14,000 erupted with the roar of 100,000 strong.
Top 5 loudest crowd reaction of my career 🤯🙏🏾… pic.twitter.com/IYXcD0yCzN
3. From last Monday’s Traina Thoughts in which I reviewed YouTube’s version of NFL Sunday Ticket: “There were actually two negatives about YouTube’s presentation, one minor and one very large. The minor negative is that YouTube didn’t put up the multiview options until 10 to 15 minutes before kickoff. YouTube needs to get these up at least a half hour before kickoff so fans can plan out their viewing strategy.”
Also: “My final rating for Week 1 of NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube is an 8.75. Put up the multiview options by 12:30 ET, and it’ll be a 9. Give fans customizable multiview, and it’ll be a 10.”
Well, we’re up to a 9 for NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube because the multiview options were up before 12:30 ET. Nicely done, YouTube.
4. There were two beautiful things about this clip. Belichick being Belichick and Mike Tirico completely losing it over Belichick being Belichick.
Bill Belichick is one of a kind 🤣— NFL UK (@NFLUK) September 18, 2023
1. Get challenge flag out of sock
2. Wait for officials to set chains
3. Spike the challenge flag pic.twitter.com/RPHV6Nw4Wn
5. The Bills had former linebacker Takeo Spikes on the field to pump up the crowd before Sunday’s game against the Raiders. Then they put him in a seat for the game that was highly problematic and led to a hilarious tweet.
Congrats to @BuffaloBills for getting a dominant win in home opener. I wish I could've stayed for the entire game but seating accomodations were NOT the standard. How you gonna have the @NFLLegends supporting with this obstructed sample size of a view!? Felt like I was in timeout https://t.co/RT8kAvLomK pic.twitter.com/DTBDMmccJX— Takeo Spikes, M.B.A (@TakeoSpikes51) September 17, 2023
6. How about BizNasty going all journalist and getting an NHL coach fired over the weekend? This really was a great job by Paul Bissonnette. Last week, on his Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, Biz and his cohost, Ryan Whitney, discussed the fact that Columbus Blue Jackets coach Mike Babcock would make players show him their camera roll on their phones.
This led to Biz revealing that he’s heard from other players that Babcock has pulled this move and invaded their privacy. The Blue Jackets then released a statement defending Babock, but Biz wasn’t having it and kept up the pressure.
Tell Babs to knock off the bullshit. Enough with putting guys on the spot in the coaches room asking them to link their phones up to airplay mode and grilling them. I’ve had tons of players confirm it. Smarten the fuck up Babs. Shove your statement up his ass. https://t.co/iYaAvORBb7— Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0) September 12, 2023
Cut to Sunday and Babcock resigned, which, based on the statement, really sounded like a firing.
7. The most recent SI Media With Jimmy Traina features a conversation with Scott Hanson, who is now in his 15th year as host of the NFL RedZone channel.
Hanson talks about what he remembers from hosting his first show 15 years ago, what has changed about the channel over the years, the use of the term “witching hour” and the show’s enormous popularity.
Hanson also discusses his postshow routine after not eating and or using the bathroom for seven hours, what his ideal 1 p.m./4 p.m. ET breakdown is in terms of number of games, famous people who have shouted-out him and RedZone.
Following Hanson, Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York joins me for our weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week, we discuss the Aaron Rodgers injury, Tom Brady nonsense and Week 1 in the NFL. We also read the most recent reviews readers have left for SI Media With Jimmy Traina on Apple Podcasts.
You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on YouTube.
8. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Since we talked earlier about massive pops The Rock got over his career, this one will always be my favorite.