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Lessons, Fallout From Pat McAfee’s Monster Deal With FanDuel: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. Wildly popular radio show/YouTube show host Pat McAfee announced Thursday that he has signed a new deal with FanDuel for “an absurd amount of money.”

It’s a four-year deal with an opt-out after three years, and according to Shams Charania, FanDuel will be handing over roughly $30 million a year to McAfee, who never made even close to that much during his punting days with the Colts.

McAfee won’t be pocketing $30 million per because that money most likely includes salaries for his staff as well as other budget items.

Regardless, it’s a huge deal and there are many takeaways.

First and foremost, McAfee deserves a ton of credit for gambling on himself at every turn. Retiring from the NFL in 2016 to join Barstool Sports was a risky move. Leaving Barstool Sports to start his own venture was a risky move. Yet, at every turn, McAfee bet on himself and it paid off.

McAfee also deserves credit for constantly taking on gigs to build his audience and his name out there. He’s called NFL games for Fox, he’s worked on ESPN studio shows, he wrestled in NXT and is currently the color commentator for WWE’s Friday Night SmackDown. That relentless drive absolutely led to this big payday.

But what McAfee might deserve credit for more than anything is doing things his way when it comes to his daily show.

McAfee could’ve worked at almost any media company for good money, but he knew in order for him to do his best show, he needed to be unfiltered and not restrained by rules.

By partnering with FanDuel and doing his show on YouTube and selling the show to SiriusXM, McAfee doesn’t have to restrict himself, and he doesn’t have to listen to radio executives who think they know better.

But McAfee isn’t just dropping f-bombs and doing outrageous bits. He has taken parts of traditional sports talk radio shows and combined them with his own way of doing radio and it’s worked perfectly. The things that succeed in sports media are unique. McAfee is unique.

He has insiders on regularly, he interviews athletes, picks NFL games—all the stuff you expect from a sports talk show. But he does those things unlike any other radio host out there, as evidenced by his weekly spots with Aaron Rodgers.

McAfee, despite being a former NFL player, has also endeared himself to his loyal audience by coming across as an everyman.

This was clearly on display as McAfee announced a variety of donations yesterday:

$200,000 to his youth soccer team
$150,000 to his youth football team
$150,000 to a youth lacrosse team
$100,000 to a youth wrestling team
$100,000 to a youth basketball team
$100,000 to a youth basketball team
$2 million to Plum, Pa., high school athletics
$1 million to a West Virginia children’s hospital
$1 million to the Peyton Manning children’s hospital
$1 million to Robert Mathis’s “Gridiron Gang” charity
$200,000 to Wish for Our Heroes
$150,000 to Coburn Place Safe Haven
$250,000 to Fur the Brand animal charity
$250,000 bonus to each of his on-air team members

McAfee’s monster deal is also significant because it shows that gambling companies are changing the media game in a big way. While many people were blown away McAfee would get a $120 million deal, the flip side of that is FanDuel's forking over $120 million just to have their brand promoted by McAfee and his show.

The gambling boom is bigger than anyone could’ve imagined (as discussed on this week’s SI Media Podcast) and you can bet (pun intended) that a ton of people who work in sports media are wondering today how they can somehow work for FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, etc.

But today is about McAfee.

His entire journey, from the day he retired to his announcement Thursday, is nothing short of remarkable. 

2. The latest SI Media Podcast features an interview with ESPN's Stanford Steve. If you are into sports betting, this podcast is for you. 

Stanford Steve discusses his role on the Scott Van Pelt–hosted edition of SportsCenter and the duo's popular weekly "Bad Beats" segment. Steve explains how they put it together, issues they run into and the biggest challenge in making the segment entertaining.

Steve also gives us his personal worst "Bad Beat" of 2021 and the worst overall "Bad Beat" of 2021, weighs in on the gambling explosion and popularity of sports betting and shares his betting advice for the Georgia-Michigan and Cincinnati-Alabama College Football Playoff games.

The podcast closes with the weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment. This week, Jimmy and Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York discuss whether NFL television rules analysts actually add anything to a broadcast, how this week's ManningCast fared by cutting one guest, how a Christmas tree enhances the NFL viewing experience, Fox's upcoming John Madden documentary and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

3. Rutgers took down No. 1 Purdue last night on a deep three at the buzzer. The team's radio analyst really wanted everybody to "Let's go."

4. My colleague, Dan Gartland, did a great job covering the Chase Claypool controversy in today's Hot Clicks. Former Steeler Ryan Clark lit up Claypool on today's Get Up.

5. The trailer for HBO's upcoming series on the Lakers, Winning Time, is out and the series looks like it's going to be highly entertaining.

6. I'm going to go with the premise that Peloton is sports because I love this story. Apparently a character in the new Sex and the City reboot died while riding a Peloton, and now the company is putting out statements and the stock shares have tumbled because we're all so stupid we can't figure out the difference between a TV show and real life.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Wednesday was the 19th anniversary of the "Whitecaps episode" of The Sopranos, which featured what may have been the greatest Tony/Carmela scene ever.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.