Money doesn’t and shouldn’t rule everyone’s decisions, so in some ways Pat McAfee should be celebrated for pursuing what makes him happy. But McAfee’s surprise retirement from his job punting with the Indianapolis Colts is going to take a while to process.
McAfee, who was slated to make $5.5 million in salary and made a Pro Bowl this season, quit to join the site Barstool Sports. I’m not sure what Barstool is paying these days, but it’s not $5.5 million over the next two years.
“I just turned down a lot of money in the NFL,” McAfee said on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
This isn’t like some other early NFL retirements, where players are worried about concussions. It’s not the first time someone has retired for a media opportunity. In 2004 Shannon Sharpe retired from the NFL because he was offered a spot on CBS’ studio show and didn’t know when that opportunity would present itself again. McAfee was in no danger of Barstool Sports not keeping a spot open for him.
“When Barstool Sports approached me about the potential of joining their family whenever I’m done with football, I said, ‘I might be done sooner than some think,’” McAfee said on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
As a punter, he has more time for side projects and could have worked more in the media on the side. But he decided to make a clean break.
McAfee said he started thinking this season, “There has to be more to life than kicking balls.” McAfee has started a stand-up comedy career, and this career change is a way to keep pursuing that. He said he met with Colts owner Jim Irsay on Monday to tell him his plans.
“For the first 15 minutes he was a little confused, and was trying to lure me back,” McAfee told Patrick. “Once he saw my excitement and I showed my incredible gratitude to him, we had an hour and 30 minute conversation and all he did was support me and he was excited for me.”
One thing that can make sense for anyone is that McAfee was dealing with knee problems. He was scheduled to have his third knee surgery in four years, with “more surgeries certain,” he said.
“It was definitely a part of it,” McAfee said. “My brain and shoulders are going to be good for the rest of my life hopefully because I don’t play one of the super tough positions of football obviously, but my knees have really taken a beating. The last half of the season I really couldn’t walk much on days I didn’t kick. I’d lay in bed and ice my knees. I felt like a 90-year-old man.”
McAfee shocked everyone by announcing his retirement late Wednesday night on Super Bowl week. The whole thing was sudden, even a bit for him it seems.
“I actually was googling this morning, how do you exactly retire from the NFL?” said McAfee, who said he hadn’t yet filed his retirement papers. “I don’t know what to do.”