Skip to main content

Charles Barkley certainly has a way with words. The shoot-from-the-hip former NBA star never minces words, especially when it comes to addressing his detractors. And when the Inside the NBA co-host went in the Pat McAfee Show, he — unsurprisingly — had some frank and foul-mouthed advice for his sports media counterpart on the best way to deal with the fans hating on McAfee’s new ESPN deal.

Charles Barkley told Pat McAfee how to deal with the haters

When Charles Barkley joined the Pat McAfee Show during the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the two athletes-turned-broadcasters shared some interesting revelations.

McAfee told Barkley that he’s watching more Inside the NBA than ever, being on nighttime baby duty with his newborn daughter. And Barkley revealed that he’s a big fan of McAfee as well, and the two text often.

Barkley also told McAfee he was watching his show last week as well when the former NFL punter was discussing fans criticizing his new multi-million-dollar move to ESPN.

“I was watching you last week, and you said people giving you a hard time about taking your new deal,” Barkley told McAfee before advising, “Tell them to shut the f*** up. Who don’t take a better f***ing job? Tell them to shut the f*** up.”

Barkley’s advice sent McAfee and his crew into hysterics before the host tanked Barkley for saying that and telling him, “I needed to hear that,” after a rash of backlash to his ESPN move, which many of his longtime fans are considering the irreverent personality selling out.

Backlash to the McAfee ESPN move


Pat McAfee Was Once Incredibly Close to Going in at QB for a Banged-up Colts Team: ‘We Were Probably Punting on First Down Whether You Liked It or Not’

Less than a year and a half after Pat McAfee inked a four-year, $120 million partnership with FanDuel, the host walked away from the deal in favor of an agreement with ESPN.

The FanDuel sponsorship was just that, a company paying to put its name on one of the most popular and fastest-growing daily shows in all of sports media. However, with commitments with the show, ESPN’s College GameDay, the WWE, and more, combined with welcoming his first child, McAfee has been transparent about looking for a way to take some of his show’s business responsibilities off his plate.

In mid-May, McAfee found a way to do that by partnering with ESPN to broadcast his daily show on the network’s YouTube channel, ESPN+, and ESPN.

And while McAfee has steadfastly maintained that he still has complete creative control and nothing about the show will change, he does admit that “Out of respect for [ESPN], we won’t be saying ‘f***’ nearly as much. But every other word is good to go.”

While this seems like a small concession to make to some, others see this as the first step to McAfee selling out or going corporate.

Comments on Twitter under McAfee’s announcement include a lot of congratulations but also notes about losing the f-word “dampening the experience” and the host not “keeping it real” anymore without using the same language he’s always used.

There is also a significant overlap between Barstool Sports fans and McAfee fans. And the former group still remembers back in 2017 when Big Cat and PFT Commenter’s Van Talk was canceled after one episode after an internal revolt over partnering with the controversial sports blog.

Time will tell if the one word is the only change McAfee will have to make now that he’s part of the Worldwide Leader.