Today we’re going to share our thoughts and memories of America’s favorite Punter, Pat McAfee. Pat’s mostly unexpected retirement from the NFL left us feeling a bit confused, a bit sad, and a bit poetic.
Nate Dunlevy: McAffee represents one of the last links to the Bill Polian era. I think only Castonzo and Vinatieri are left. I know the man has many interests and there are a lot of things he wants to do with his life, but I have to think that if the environment at West 56th Street was a positive one, surely he’d keep playing. He has certainly been a Classic Colt, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back on the playing field again in a few years. Just a guess.
Josh McMillan: I don’t know how to not write this like an obituary.
(Author’s note: We totally understand, but Pat knows our hearts will go on.)
Ryan Kennedy: Pat McAfee is one of the few things that’s made being a Colts fan fun recently. His antics aside, I think a lot of people underestimate how much of an asset he’s been to the team. I’m puzzled as to why he’d decide to walk away now, but I can’t fault him for wanting to chase a different dream. However, I won’t be surprised to see him back in football someday.
Josh McMillan: Never has a 29 year old punter had an impact on an NFL franchise in the way that Patrick J. McAfee has. The immediate out pour from McAfee’s teammates, media members, and even Jim Irsay only further proves how integral this beer-drinkin’ boomstick of a man was to the Indianapolis Colts and its fans. Not only was Pat an exceptional talent, but between fundraising, charity involvement, and even stand-up comedy, he has established himself as a man of high character. I’ll miss him lighting up Trindon Holliday on Sundays, but I look forward to watching him succeed in this next phase.
(Author’s note: Looks like Josh was able to steady himself)
DJ Glander: So, I’m a Make-A-Wish kid, and my wish was to meet and hang with Reggie Wayne. Lucky for me Peyton was there too at the complex in Anderson (This was his injury year :/). Anyway, my sister met McAfee and he told her to keep watching, because one day “he’d be the best in the league at kicking balls with other dudes.” Safe to say he accomplished that!
Casey Burks: The one moment that comes to mind when I think of Pat on the football field has to be when he absolutely laid out Trindon Holliday.
Many of my favorite McAfee moments came off the field though. His Twitter was always hilarious. How much he gave back to the community was awesome, especially everything he did for veterans in need.
He gave me free tickets to his New Year’s Eve comedy show in Indy on Twitter. That was a great time. There’s no doubt that Pat is going to do a great job in his next career.
Jeff Gerbig: What’s given me my favorite memory of Pat springs from a night he’d like to forget: That’s right, the infamous canal swim. You could kind of see it coming. Here’s a young guy finally out on his own playing – and playing well – for a high profile team in the NFL. He’s cool! He’s awesome! He gets to play with Peyton Manning! And the team makes it to the Super Bowl his rookie year. What could possibly go wrong? Well, he could still need to grow up. Pat needed a kick alright: A kick in the rear end.
Many of us have been there: That moment where we do something so stupid – whether intoxicated or not – we’re soon saying to ourselves, “Oh my God, what did I just do?!” The difference between what Pat went through and what 99.9% of us who’ve done stupid things is, Pat suffered something much worse than a night in the slammer: Public humiliation. Global public humiliation.
As the various takes on the saying go, “It is not how we fall, but in how fast we get back up.” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an athlete recover so quickly – at least publicly – from the humiliation Pat caused himself. I know in reality it didn’t happen so quickly, but it seems Pat didn’t just get back up after falling, he got back up sprinting. I have little doubt this is due to his parents and other supporting structure, and Bill Polian probably gets an assist as well. Pat has not only repaid his debt to society, society probably owes him a refund.
It was during his “comeback” in 2010 when I first realized Pat was never going to be defined as just a guy who plays with balls in the NFL. He’s just meant to be more than that, whether it’s doing comedy for charity, or helping kids, or helping veterans. Some people you just can’t fence in.
Jerald Pierce: Ok, I know you wanted a memory, but…here’s a poem. Not even ashamed of the “10 Things I Hate About You” ripoff:
I hate the way you’re leaving me,
Overnight, with an unceremonious sound.
I hate that you find joy in everything,
And the way you joke around.I hate your big dumb boomstick
And the way we named your leg.
I hate you for making me care about a punter.
No rhyme here, just leave your leg.
I hate the way the team needs you,
And not just for celebrations.
You were the best punter in the league
And you’ve left us bereft of jubilations.
I hate the way you’re going out
And the fact that you’ll ne’re ‘gain play Colts ball.
But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you
Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
Hats off to PattyMac. I hope to be as awesome as him when I hit 29.
(Author’s note: Alright Jerald, that was pretty awesome. So is this next bit.)
Every now and then, Colts Authority has been allowed to “cover” a sponsored event involving a player. We’ve been invited to such things as Andrew Luck trying to get people to…buy oatmeal, and that time Dwight Freeney was trying to help promote something no one remembers. Once, a few years back, we were invited to send someone to a photo op at the Indianapolis Public Library where Pat McAfee was helping out a charity for Indiana foster children. It was in the evening, and for once I was able to go.
So I showed up at the downtown library on time and was treated like a member of the local media, which was kind of cool, except for the part where people tend not to like the local media people. Anyway, McAfee was doing this after a full day of practice with another coming up in the morning. He was instructed very simply to hand each kid a backpack full of books and pause for us all to take photos.
We were told not to take photos of any of the kids wearing a certain colored band. Some of these kids had been taken out of dangerous abusive homes, and they didn’t want the wrong people finding them. This was serious business, and these kids sure could’ve used something about which to smile. McAfee was supposed to make it quick. He did no such thing.
The first kid walked up, and McAfee ignored all of the cameras and lights hovering around and asked the little guy’s name. He had a short conversation with him, made him feel special and important, and you could see the kid start to relax and forget the truly odd situation he was in (both as a foster child and as the subject of multiple flashing cameras).
McAfee proceeded to do the same thing with each kid in the line. I don’t remember how many there were, but they would have more than filled a classroom. Every one of those kids, each coming from a truly lousy circumstance, had their moment with Pat.
He left the room, and I hung around and visited for a bit while the kids did some kind of activity with Blue, the mascot. On my way out, I met a tired-looking McAfee, heading back to the room to hang out with the kids a little more (or “play,” if I remember his words correctly).
I stopped him for a minute and told him it was really cool what he was doing, taking the time out on a practice day, no less (those guys are at the facility for 10+ hours more often than not). He said thanks and told me he’d seen a tweet I sent out saying pretty much the same thing. Then he went on about how he felt like he was the lucky one being able to do what he does (did) for a living and to be able to help people, although he preferred when it wasn’t some big publicity thing. Then, he looked me in the eye, reached out his hand to shake mine and…introduced himself, “Pat.” Yeah, buddy, I definitely know who you are. I just shook his hand, said something nice, and let him get back to spending time with the foster kids.