Max Kellerman's softball chat with Jake Paul is an example of how not to interview an “athlete” accused of sexual assault

We’re as confused by this as you look here.
We’re as confused by this as you look here.
Image: Getty Images

Look, I don’t know why Max Kellerman is interviewing Jake Paul. I get that he’s an aspiring fake boxer like his brother, Logan Paul, and that the most dangerous place in America is between either Paul brother and a camera. I’m not even going to get into the whole “are the Paul brothers good for boxing?” debate, because no, they’re not.


All of that aside, this is an actual exchange that took place between ESPN’s Max Kellerman and Jake Paul, and which Kellerman for some reason shared on his Instagram feed. Let’s start at the 8:49 mark:

Kellerman: “Your persona — The Bad Boy — is based on a lot of controversies you’ve been in, including a serious allegation from a woman, which you deny. Is this something that you’re embracing in terms of a big part of the public dislike for you? And Marketing?  

[The bold and italics — and I would make it flashing if I could — are mine.] 

Because that’s entirely possible to do; you can play the good guy to some people and the bad guy to others. So, are you embracing the bad boy thing for boxing, in order to make events?”

Paul: “For sure, for sure. But all of these allegations and things that are said about me are things from years ago and they’re 100 percent false. And my legal team is following up with these people to make sure they’re held accountable for the things they say, because they’re not true and they’re gonna damage my brand forever. But, I do embrace that side of things. .. I’ve finally embraced it and I’m able to use that energy for the sport of boxing to help propel me.”


Super job, both of you. Really.

For Kellerman’s part, he posed the question without saying specifically that the allegation he was speaking about was sexual assault. Soooo, just a generic serious allegation? Cool. Secondly, Kellerman doesn’t even bother to find out how many women have accused Paul of sexual assault, because a second woman came forward a week ago. There are two allegations out there, not one. Women can always tell that men take sexual assault seriously when they don’t even bother to find out how many women were allegedly assaulted before conducting a softball interview with an alleged sexual predator.


Secondly, Kellerman doesn’t even make Paul deny the allegations against him outright, he gives Paul’s denial for him and, somewhow, rolled the sexual assault allegation into a question about marketing. Well done. This interview is even worse than Adam Schefter sitting down for tea and crumpets with Greg Hardy.

As for Paul, I didn’t expect much by way of reply, but I’m glad he can use women’s pain to “propel” him in the sport of boxing. And he gets double points for publicly threatening his accusers and mentioning his “brand.”


I know we do this thing in sports media where we ask a guy accused of sexual assault or domestic battery a softball question once and, once they deny it, bringing the allegations up again (absent further developments) is considered gauche. Women who press the issue or violate the one-and-done rule, as I call it, are quickly labeled “difficult” or “not a team player.” But here’s the thing: Max Kellerman does not work for Jake Paul. ESPN does not need Jake Paul more than he needs them. This interview is not such a great “get” that anyone should have agreed no to bring up the allegations or to softball Paul questions.

Here’s what Kellerman should have said: “Jake, I know you like to lean into this bad boy image, but two women have now come forward and accused you of sexual assault. What do you have to say about that?”


Then Paul could have given his same, shitty answer, and Kellerman wouldn’t have given the impression to his audience that the only way allegations of sexual assault matter is how they affect Paul’s marketing and branding.

Do better, Max.

Co-host of The Ladies Room podcast. Author of "Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America." Former law-talking chick.