WWE made the announcement earlier this year that former NFL star Pat McAfee had signed on with the company as an online contributor after first impressing officials during his appearances on the WWE NXT Takeover Kick-Off shows.
Since then McAfee has been used to help push WWE’s online content, especially on YouTube, and within this exclusive interview, McAfee revealed how he will be helping the company at WrestleMania 35 weekend this year.
Our own Matthew Wilkinson recently spoke with Pat McAfee, who was working alongside Leesa Sleep at an event to provide 100 mattresses to victims of domestic abuse about a range of topics; from his partnership with Leesa, joining WWE, and if Gronk would wrestle to how helpful Michael Cole has been and if he will step into the ring himself, and much, much more.
Firstly, you’ve been partnering up with Leesa Sleep Mattresses today to help support domestic violence. What is it about the foundation that made you want to get involved?
“So Leesa Sleep is a company that has been a partner of mine ever since I decided to venture into this internet space and create content and they are a mattress company that is trying to make the world a better place. They deliver mattresses right to your door, you normally go to a store and roll around in a bunch of beds that a bunch of humans have rolled around in, sweat, hair, who knows what else? Leesa has taken that out of everyone’s life, which is very nice of them, they deliver a mattress right to your doorstep and unbox it in less than five minutes, and WHAM, you’re sleeping so much better all of a sudden. Also, they are a company who wants to make the world a better place and today is just a picture of that. We are visiting a place called, Coburn Place here in Indianapolis, which is a sanctuary for survivors and thrivers of domestic and interpersonal violence. We are giving away 100 mattresses and hopefully, we can set these folks up on a happy path to success here n the future, even though their path so far has been a little bit rocky. I am just happy to be part of this thing, Leesa Sleep is good peoples and this afternoon is going to be a fulfilling one and I can’t wait for it.”
Today was beautiful.@leesasleep and I delivered 100 mattresses for the women & children living at the amazing @coburnplace.
Fresh mattresses for these incredible humans living life in a safe space sanctuary to get away from a terrible situation. #WhatLifeIsActuallyAbout pic.twitter.com/rEJeU0QkCD
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) March 29, 2019
You recently signed with WWE, as an avid fan of the company, how big of a moment was this for you?
“It’s massive, you know? It’s one of those things where I was incredibly fortunate to play in the NFL for eight years, I got to kick off a Superbowl, all of these moments, it doesn’t get lost on me how awesome it all is. When I was a kid I had a bucket list, and anytime I get to knock one off that has been a dream of mine for so long, it is a really cool moment. When Michael Cole called me to be on the NXT Takeover in New Orleans in the pre-show, I thought it was a big joke, to be honest with you. Michael Cole calls you and you think it’s a joke, but then I get to come on the pre-show and meet some people and form some friendships with them. WWE and I have no clue what the future of our relationship is going to be, we are just making some content for the internet now, but I am living a dream man. I very much know that, I respect it and I appreciate it and I am trying to make the most of it every single day, I know there is a lot of people who wish they were doing the same things as I am and I think they will if they continue to grit and keep it moving, but it’s a dream come true.”
So far, we have primarily seen you on the NXT Kick-Off shows, just how free are you to say and do whatever you want during those?
“So, whenever I was a fan of WWE and not officially in the WWE I heard all the horror stories about how they tell you exactly what to say and you have to do this and it’s a shrude business and all of this stuff. But, whenever I have gotten in there, I can say it’s the complete opposite. They have been nothing but hospitable to me and my friends, they try to help me out as much as possible and when it comes to the pre-shows, they tell me nothing. They just want me to act how I would act in every situation, I think they like what I have been doing and as soon as they don’t I assume they will tell me to do something different, but right not it’s you be you. Some people love, it and some people hate it but I am just being me up there and it’s really nice and I am lucky that they have enough faith in my brain to let me do that. But, I assume as soon as they start to hate it that will change, but let’s hope that moment doesn’t come for a long time.”
Sam Roberts recently got everyone talking about the Kick-Off show with his comments about Bianca Belair. Whilst many disagreed with his opinion, do you think that is what the Kick-Off shows need, some major opinions and debates to really get the WWE Universe engaged and talking with the hosts?
“Ever since I have started here, our job is to get the NXT Takeover buzzing before it even starts .Every time I have been part of it we have been trending worldwide. Sam (Roberts), took that wild turn out of nowhere and blew my mind and the internet’s mind as well, he just had a real ‘Sam Roberts moment’ there, I have no idea where it came from or what he is up to. A pre-show plays a vital role, it’s our job to hype people up for what is going to be the greatest night in sports entertainment history, which is what NXT Takeover’s have been, one after the other, they up themselves each time. I think the pre-show plays a vital role and Sam Roberts taking that turn, I would never do that, because I don’t believe in anything he said there and I like sleeping at night and not feeling bad, but it is a vital role to get the buzz flowing so we can ride into a couple of hours of magic from the NXT women and men.”
We got the news earlier this week about Rob Gronkowski retiring from football. As someone who has made the transition from football to WWE, do you think we might see him in a WWE ring again down the line?
“I am not sure you know, I saw Stephanie McMahon tweet him and say the door is always open in WWE. I think Rob Gronkowski is a perfect fit in sports entertainment, he is a character in of himself. He’s been injured a bit in his NFL career and to be a sports entertainer, it is a gruelling thing on your body so I am not sure if he would sign up to do that full time, but I think the world would embrace another Gronk moment with the WWE. What he did for Mojo Rawley blew up the internet and was wildly entertaining, the security lady almost didn’t let him in! The Gronk is built for the world of sports entertainment and I am excited to see what it is, but I am not sure he wants to bruise and bang up his body as much as sports entertainers do so they would have to find the right fit and I think it could be good for everybody.”
We have WrestleMania weekend coming up very soon, how excited are you for everything and do you know what you will be doing during the weekend?
“I’ve got an RV and I am starting in Hershey at a WWE live event, and then I’m driving to Monday Night Raw and then heading to SmackDown Live this Tuesday, then heading to Philadelphia to have a cheesesteak and see the Liberty Bell, the thing’s cracked but it still rings good! Then I’ll be driving over to New York City for the rest of the week, starting with NXT Takeover on Friday which is going to be electric. The Hall Of Fame on Saturday which I have heard is going to be a little bit quicker than in year’s past, we will see how that goes. Then I am on the pre-show for WrestleMania which is a huge honor of mine and I am very excited. It also might literally be the first time Vince McMahon sees me on TV so I went to Macy’s and bought a tuxedo for the first time since prom and I am pumped up about it. It’s going to be a fun weekend, the Road To WrestleMania is always an exciting one and I can’t wait to be around other wrestling fans and nerd out.”
Michael Cole stated that your interaction with Adam Cole at a live event got you on his radar. He has a huge NXT Championship match coming up with Johnny Gargano, how do you think that one is going to go down?
“Johnny’s last name is wrestling and there is a reason for that, he is going to out-wrestle Adam Cole, he’s going to bury him. Adam Cole doesn’t like jorts so I don’t like him. He said a couple of things on the sly about me, I think he is handsome and he is an incredible entertainer but next Friday night he is going to lose to Johnny Wrestling who is going to be the next NXT Champion. I think it’s a shame that Ciampa got hurt but now is the time for Jonny to run with it, I think he is going to strap on the back of the NXT horse and ride it to greener pastures, so with that being said, I hope Adam Cole loses, strictly because of the mean things he said about me.”
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Speaking of Michael Cole, how helpful has been so far in your WWE career?
“Whenever I was a WWE fan, I think it is very easy to hate Michael Cole, he Is a very hateable character, but he is the voice of WWE. When he brought me into the WWE family I got to meet him and he is single-handedly the best mentor I have ever had for being on a microphone. I got the chance to call a College Football game and an NFL game this past year on FOX, and Michael Cole was the person I asked questions to because he is such an incredible broadcaster. Michael Cole has helped out me, I would probably say he has helped hundreds of people in his WWE career and you can tell he wants to leave WWE a better place than when he got there. I am very thankful for the guy, I understand why people hate him, but if they ever met the real Michael Cole it’s impossible not to love the guy.”
Speaking of being the voice of WWE, is a commentary role something that interests you?
“I love being on the microphone, I enjoy talking, I think I can add some flavor to things. I know I am not for everybody, even my mom hates me sometimes, but I think I can add to something and if WWE lets me commentate some matches that will be awesome. If NFL lets me do it, I will do it there too, I am just enjoying everything that comes at me and I am not sure there is any other way to live.”
You hosted a fun Watch Along backstage for Fastlane on WWE’s YouTube channel. The show had a really natural feel, just like the fans were watching with you. The original video got over 1 million views before it was taken down by WWE, but will we get to see it again?
“It’s happening at WrestleMania! It (The WWE Fastlane Watch Along) got taken down because a Brit, Nigel McGuinness who I have become a massive fan of after watching his documentary on the WWE Network and meeting him in person, he dropped an F-bomb so they had to pull it down. The massively positive response to that Watch Along was something that I could never have expected. I was very lucky that the WWE Superstars came in there, Beth Phoenix and Natalya went from our Watch Along couch right into the ring, it was a magical moment, It’s just WWE being big brained yet again. They know that I am a fan and get pretty passionate about things so they just go, let’s put a camera on him and bring in some people to talk to. It was a brilliant concept and for as long as they let me do it I am going to have a good time, and hopefully, I can get some quips and quotes from people backstage about what is going on inside. I think we can really become a weapon for WWE.”
Finally, whilst we have seen you used as a pundit so far, would you be interested in trying your hand at wrestling at some point, and if so, who would your dream first opponent be?
“I have no idea if I am tough enough to do that. I am a delicate flower. I made a tackle in the NFL one time and it was pretty large and there is a GIF of it and it has been seen by millions of people, I was sore for a week after that, it felt like I was in a car crash. I have had dreams and visions my entire life of walking down that ramp and having a microphone in my hand and potentially winning a match and getting up on the second rope, with thousands…AND THOUSANDS of people cheering along, but we will see, I have no idea, the future is a big question mark. Just like every other kid who grew up in the era I did, it’s a dream tog et in that ring. We just need to figure out if they want it, if I can do it and if it’s something that makes sense. And obviously, I would like to get in there and bury a guy who called me a dork for wearing jorts, and that’s Adam Cole… bay bay.”