It was the first clue – and it came last July when I was riding around with Pat McAfee making surprise deliveries to Colts season ticket members.
After dropping approximately $150 into a jar at a lemonade stand, McAfee got back on the Colts bus. We were chatting about training camp, now just days away, and he said something that put a doubt in my mind that I couldn’t erase.
“This is the first year I’ve dreaded going to camp.”
I know no one looks forward to going to training camp (myself included), but there was something about the way he said it that told me this was more than just talk.
As the season progressed, so did my suspicion. I would notice a post on social media or hear his response to a question in the locker room.
Finally, around mid-season, I brought it up.
“You’re making me a little nervous,” I said. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be kicking footballs for?”
He was sitting down in front of his locker. He looked me in the eyes and talked about how much time football takes up, about the other interests he has, and about how badly he wanted to pursue them.
And right then, I knew. At 29 years old, Pat McAfee was contemplating retirement.
I didn’t tell a soul. It was a casual conversation, more personal than professional in nature. I didn’t try to change his mind, it wasn’t my place – but secretly, I hoped something else would.
Later, as the end of the season neared, he seemed noticeably relaxed. Something had changed, I could tell. I knew he had a new lady friend, but still – I wondered.
“You seem happy,” I told him.
“I am,” he said. “I’m done.”
He proceeded to tell me about a job with Barstool Sports. It was the most excited I had seen him in months. He said he knew it was time to move on.
And suddenly, I did too.
“Well then,” I said, “I’m just going to enjoy every day we have you here.”
And I did.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) February 2, 2017
Pat McAfee took his talent for kicking footballs from Plum, Pennsylvania all the way to the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Indianapolis Colts, and the NFL Pro Bowl.
Now, he’s going to use his talent to entertain – something he’s equally good at – and see how far that can take him.
Over the past eight seasons, Pat McAfee has grown up right before our eyes. He’s become a man, a professional, and more than anything – a Hoosier.
Pat McAfee is proud to call himself a Hoosier. He embraces everything about being a Hoosier. And he makes me a little more proud to be a Hoosier.
Goodbyes are tough, but McAfee made it clear he’s not going anywhere. He moved his family to Indiana and Indiana is where he will stay.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) February 2, 2017
For Pat McAfee, retirement isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a new, exciting chapter – one we can’t wait to be a part of. Whether it was on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium or on the stage somewhere else, we were always there to cheer him on. And we always will be.
Thank you, Pat, for showing us how to turn lemons into lemonade, inspiration into opportunity, and laughter into medicine.
The Colts’ loss is the country’s gain.
Someone needs to make America laugh again.
And Pat McAfee is just the man for the job.