ESPN dismisses Pat McAfee's claim that former executive Norby Williamson is trying to sabotage his show, saying the production chief is 'committed' to the network's success before announcing that 'the matter will be handled internally'
ESPN is defending former network executive Norby Williamson amid an internal war at the World Wide Leader over talk show host Pat McAfee's claim that his program was sabotaged from the boardroom.
“No one is more committed and invested in the success of ESPN than Norby Williamson,” a spokesperson explained Saturday morning.
ESPN's statement appears to be an attempt to turn the page on the disagreement while continuing to support McAfee, who reportedly signed a five-year, $85 million deal to license his talk show to the network this summer.
“We are thrilled with the multi-platform success we have seen from The Pat McAfee Show on ESPN,” the statement continued. “We will handle this matter internally and have no further comment.”
McAfee launched a furious on-air attack on some of his ESPN bosses on Friday, suggesting a “rat” within the network is trying to “sabotage” his show. The fiery host railed against 'the enemy in our own camp' as Williamson was singled out.
Pat McAfee launched a furious air raid on some of his ESPN bosses on Friday
McAfee singled out veteran director Norby Williamson and accused him of leaking information
McAfee accused the 'Executive Editor & Head of Event and Studio Production' of leaking false ratings to an unnamed reporter in an attempt to take down the show.
Although he did not specify who the reporter was, New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand said wrote a column this week claim that McAfee's show attracts about half the audience of its introduction, Stephen A. Smith's First Take. Furthermore, according to Marchand, McAfee is failing to generate the same ratings that SportsCenter had when it occupied the same slot last year.
This week, McAfee was at the center of controversy after Aaron Rodgers hinted in his weekly interview that Jimmy Kimmel could be on Jeffrey Epstein's list of associates.
During Friday's show, McAfee said, “We understand that more people are watching this show than ever before. We are very grateful to the ESPN folks for their hospitality.
'Now there are people actively trying to sabotage us from ESPN. More specifically, I believe Norby Williamson is the man trying to sabotage our program.”
McAfee admitted that he had no concrete evidence to support his accusation.
“I'm not 100 percent sure – that's apparently the only human who has information, and somehow that information gets leaked and it's wrong, and then the story of what our show is is told,” continued he.
'Are we just going to fight that from a rat every time? Don't know. But someone tried to get ahead of our actual viewing figures with the wrong numbers twelve hours in advance.
The show sparked controversy earlier this week after comments from Aaron Rodgers (center)
“That's an attempt at sabotage, and it's actually been happening all season long by people who didn't necessarily love the Pat McAfee Show's old addition to the ESPN family.”
The host suggested there are “a lot” of people within the organization trying to “tear him down.”
“We've heard them quoted anonymously in the media… it's always little things that try to bring us down,” he said.
“I don't like that man (Williamson), he let me into his office for 45 minutes in 2018 – and he didn't let me see it – so this man has had no respect for me whatsoever and in return he got the same in return for a long time. '
McAfee added, “Even as this is happening, we're still growing somehow.”