Patrick Justin McAfee.
Lungs as large as his prodigious punting leg — and wrapped in pigskin leather, to boot.
Lungs like John Havlicek, the Celtics great, had.
He never stops.
Never takes a breath.
But here’s the thing:
It’s not just about his lungs.
Also, it’s about his brain.
Pat McAfee is smart as hell.
He’s really smart.
Who the hell is this guy?
A friend of mine told me that I should listen to Pat McAfee…like I need somebody else to listen to.
But my pal was right.
Pat McAfee is an American businessman, philanthropist, sports analyst, podcaster, professional wrestler, professional wrestling color commentator, and a former NFL punter and kickoff specialist.
He is, and was, good at all of that.
Very, very good.
But what is impressive to me is that he knows how to bring it — whatever’s on his mind and shoots out his mouth — without boring and burying you.
And he’s no boor.
Pat McAfee has “star” written all over him, and has carried that mantle for quite some time.
He’s a YouTube hero, and rightfully so.
1.55M subscribers and counting.
At Plum High School, located in a Pittsburgh suburb, McAfee was an accomplished athlete, playing soccer, volleyball and football.
His play piqued the interest of college recruiters in all three sports.
Maverick that he was — and still is — at 18, he borrowed $100 from a buddy to play poker in an illegal club.
He turned the C-note into $1400, and used the money to finance a trip to Miami, where he wanted to compete in the final day of a national competition featuring the best high school kicking prospects in the country.
What do you think happened?
McAfee made nine consecutive field goals, starting at 25 yards, and moving five yards back on each attempt.
Do the math.
Finished it off with a 65 yard field goal.
He narrowly missed the next one, a 70-yarder which had the distance, but skirted right.
He came home and was eating lunch in the school cafeteria, when Tony Gibson, the University of West Virginia’s recruiting coordinator offered him a football scholarship.
On the spot.
McAfee was already exemplifying that Midas touch.
The gift of gab and gold.
As it happened, the Blue and Old Gold of West Virginia served him well.
McAfee had 106 consecutive extra points before he missed one; was named to the 2007 Lou Groza Award semi-finalist list for the best collegiate kicker as a junior; became the school record-holder for all-time scoring as a senior; and finished the season with a career-best 44.7 yards per punt average, a Big East-leading 23 punts inside the 20-yard line, and career-high 2,639 yards with a 65-yard long.
He was named a finalist for the 2008 Ray Guy Award, finishing runner-up to Matt Fodge.
With the Indianapolis Colts, for whom he played from 2009–2016, he was named to the 2009 All-Rookie Team and became a First-team All-Pro (2014) and 2-time Pro Bowl selection (2014; 2016).
McAfee’s Career NFL statistics look like this:
Punts: 575; Punting yards: 26,669; Punting average: 46.4; Longest punt: 74; Inside 20: 193.
His post-playing pursuits have been wide and varied, running the gamut from media to professional wrestling, and including even a professional baseball debut in 2018 with the Frontier League’s Washington Wild Things, as a right fielder and guest third base coach.
Tweeted McAfee at the time,
“ Never played baseball a day in my life..That changes on Thursday..I’ll be the starting RFer for the @WashWildThings..I’ll have at least 1 at bat..Started training in the @barstoolhrtland office today. @tyschmit was firing hockey balls at me..Need a dinger..What’s your prediction?”
Vintage Pat McAfee.
He made a putout in the outfield and went 0–3 at the plate, reaching second base on a throwing error, before being replaced with a pinch-runner.
Whatever he may be doing, and however he occupies his time, The Pat McAfee Show — which airs weekdays from 12 PM to 3 PM and is broadcast live on YouTube — is the platform for him to show his true colors.
There, his star shines the brightest.
And will continue to do so.
As long as his leather lungs — and big brain — see fit to allow it.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in November 2021.]