BY TYLER O’KEEFE | Ball State Sports Link
Early Thursday morning Pat McAfee announced his retirement from the National Football League in hilarious fashion. The two-time Pro Bowl punter held a comedic press conference on Barstool Rundown, a Comedy Central sports talk show airing on the network one week prior to Super Bowl LI.
McAfee opted out of the 2016 Pro Bowl to have his third knee surgery in just four years.
The former punter was a member of the Indianapolis Colts for eight seasons and was selected in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft.
The Indianapolis punter’s shocking retirement came just days after Colts owner Jim Irsay named Chris Ballard as the teams new General Manager. Ballard now has to fill the empty cleats left by Pat McAfee.
That might be easier said than done.
In week five, McAfee hit a career long 74 yard punt and averaged 49 yards per punt through the 2016 regular season. To top it all, in 2015 McAfee solidified his supreme status by laying out Broncos return man, Trindon Holiday.
“Pat McAfee is going to be a legend among kickers everywhere,” Chris Collinsworth said about McAfee’s booming blow.
Among kickers, maybe. Among those in Indianapolis, absolutely.
The Indianapolis Colts had one of the most productive special teams in the 2016 regular season and McAfee deserves part of the credit. This season alone place kicker Adam Vinatieri hit 27-of-31 field goal attempts and every single one of his 44 extra point attempts.
Vinatieri ranks third in the NFL for points scored. McAfee posted career highs in yards per punt and longest punt.
But, fear not McAfee fans. Your favorite player isn’t going far. Actually, he ins’t going anywhere at all.
McAfee agreed to join Barstool Sports on the condition that he could remain in the area.
It’s no surprise that McAfee is looking to join a production company on the lighter side of sports.
In 2015, he found his way on stage and began performing stand-up comedy for thousands of his fans across Indiana. McAfee released his first stand-up special, Pat McAfee: Uncaged, in October 2015.
The special chronicles the former kickers college days at West Virginia University, his journey to the Indianapolis Colts and infamous alleged swim in the Indiana Central Canal.
Now he’ll take his shot at producing sports content from his own radio and television studio in downtown Indianapolis.
Depending on how quickly McAfee decides to act, his new venture could cover say, the world’s largest single-day sporting event.
On May 28th, 2017 the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. In 2016 the race drew an estimated 350,00 people to one of the most well know sites in Indiana.
One of those in attendance was Pat McAfee. McAfee is no stranger to IndyCar. He sponsored the race car of longtime friend and professional racer car driver Conor Daly in the 100th running of the iconic spectacle.
Outside of his endeavors in professional racing, McAfee could also cover his former football team as well as the Indiana Pacers. Not to mention, Indianapolis just submitted it’s bid to bring a Major League Soccer team to the city.
If that isn’t enough, McAfee will also have several Division I college programs to choose from.
That’s right. Barstool Sports could cover Ball State sports as part of its efforts to bring the organization to Indianapolis. McAfee visited Ball State University in February of 2016 to perform his stand-up routine as a part of his I-69 tour.
Also within McAfee’s jurisdiction, Indiana University, Purdue University, Butler University and the University of Notre Dame. Each school has a wide range of highly skilled athletic teams that see some of the best competition that travels through Indiana.
After the retirement announcement, McAfee took to twitter saying he was, “…forever indebted to the state of Indiana… I was drafted into the state with the best humans on earth.”
If Indiana owes Pat McAfee one thing, it’s quality sports to cover.
And don’t worry Pat, if that sounds like a lot, Ball State Sports Link has you covered. We know a thing or two about digital sports productions.
Since 2009, students in Ball State Sports Link have been awarded over 70 state or national awards for their work in sports media and production, including 11 student and professional Emmy Awards and 7 Best in College Sports Media Awards presented by the Sports Video Group.
With its 7th SVG win in 2015, Ball State is the winningest school in the SVG/College Sports Media Awards. Ball State earned four nominations in 2016, bringing its total to an SVG-record 30 nominations since 2011.
The success is also apparent in the state of Indiana, where students in Sports Link have racked up 24 first-place finishes in the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters competition and 14 Indiana Society of Professional Journalists Awards, including six straight for feature reporting/storytelling.
McAfee expressed his affinity for Ball State in a video posted on YouTube saying, “listen… if I ever have a show that needs to be performed live or taped live, I’m doing it at Ball State University.” McAfee intends to film a pilot episode of his television talent contest U Got It? at Ball State University in early 2017.
As for Ball State Sports Link, in 2015-16 students and staff produced 33 live sporting events on ESPN 3 and several hours of live studio productions.
One thing is certain. McAfee and Barstool Sports couldn’t have picked a better place to branch out. Indiana is making it’s mark on the wide world of sports.