As usual, any time McAfee speaks with the media, we like to give you the uncut version. So, here goes.
As the Colts have navigated the upcoming free agency period, there has been a great deal of uncertainty about the return of players like Vontae Davis, Antoine Bethea, Donald Brown, Adam Vinatieri, and, of course, McAfee.
When a reporter asked whether there was any uncertainty on his end, McAfee wasn’t going to rock the boat, but he was still refreshingly honest. “After last offseason’s negotiations,” he said, “I don’t want to say it was ugly, but it was an interesting situation last offseason. I didn’t know what to expect going into this season.
“To be honest, I didn’t want to play for any other NFL team. I didn’t want to hit the open market. I didn’t want to become a free agent. I didn’t want to do any of that. I was really going to look at all my options of possibly getting into the media so I didn’t have to play for another team because I didn’t know if the Indianapolis Colts really wanted me back.
“When the negotiations started this year, the conversations started, I asked my agent, ‘Does it sound like they even want me to be here?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’ So it kind of changed my mind a bit and got me really excited for the future.
“I’m just super excited that it’s all finished and really excited that I’m going to be in Indianapolis again because this is where I want to be.”
Wordy, but worth it. What do you take away from that? Pat McAfee would’ve rather stopped playing football and worked in the media than play for any other football team – and seriously considered it. Forget the usual ‘this where I want to play, but I know it’s a business’ mantra. This guy would rather retire than leave. Now, that’s not to say he definitely would have, but rarely (and understandably so) will an athlete give that kind of insight.
When you’ve given so much to a company, and loyalty is important to you, going into the unknown can be unsettling. Now imagine if that employer brought you fame, a positive working environment, and millions of dollars in return. While most of us can’t relate, it’s easy to imagine McAfee’s point of view.
The fans have been an integral reason for the Colts punter’s desire to stay in Indianapolis (or just west of Indianapolis, if you’re some kind of stickler), and we’re not talking about the usual ‘we have the greatest fans in the league’ shtick. For McAfee, it’s bigger than that.
“The people of Indianapolis and the Colts legion have embraced me ever since 2010, really, and that’s why I am so indebted to this city and these people. They took me in at a time when I was down. After I got in trouble, I was in, probably, the lowest point of my life and the people of this city all said, ‘We want nobody else but you.’
“The people of Indianapolis have embraced me and that’s why I love the city so much. I’m so happy to be a Hoosier. That’s my fulltime home. I don’t live anywhere else in the offseason. I live in Indianapolis and I’m excited that I get the chance to live there during regular season, again. It’s going to be a lot of fun this year, and for the next five years and this just worked out exactly how I wanted it to.”
So, great job, Colts fans. Really. Remember McAfee’s um, alleged swim, the next time a guy who gives his all every week is caught doing something boneheaded – as long as said boneheaded act does not threaten or endanger others. We’re all human.
We’re going to shift gears here and include a few more of McAfee’s answers from his session with the Indianapolis media.
– McAfee on the biggest reason for the Colts’ ability to rebuild so quickly since 2011: “Yeah, I tweeted a picture of him almost naked. His name is Andrew Luck. That is the reason why the rebuilding process has accelerated so quickly. That guy is gifted. He’s special and in the NFL if you have a superstar quarterback you have a chance to win games, and if you don’t it’s going to be tough. Indianapolis was very lucky to have Peyton (Manning) for all those years and very, extremely lucky to get Andrew Luck right after him. I think the reason we’ve bounced back so fast is because we’ve had Andrew Luck, and we’ve also been able to put together a talented group of individuals around him in a very short time period. So we’ve got great veteran leadership, you’ve got talented individuals, and you do have a superstar quarterback like Andrew Luck, a turnaround can happen quickly and it did. We’re all very fortunate for that because that 2-14 year was awful.”
– McAfee on whether Andrew Luck makes Indy a more desirable free agent destination: “First of all, winning makes you an attractive team. But I think the chance to hitch your wagon to an up and coming, hopefully Hall of Fame, quarterback, which he should be. I think that’s a big deal for a lot of the older guys that are looking for a ring, or maybe for the younger guys that are trying to jumpstart their career. I think Indianapolis is becoming a very, very promising looking destination for a lot people who want to win and hitch their wagon to a player who’s going to be great for a very long time.”
– McAfee on his contract and whether the Colts’ being a winning team affected his decision. Keep in mind that reporters often know the general answer to their questions, but they are looking for insight from the interviewee: “I think the big thing for me about coming back to Indianapolis was my loyalty to the Colts. I know we’re going to be good. I think going to a winning team and staying with a winning team is awesome for me. I’ve been with a winning team basically my entire career, even in college. That’s awesome. I hate losing, so it’s great to be back. Money for me was never really that big of an issue. I think I’m overly-compensated for what I do, no matter what I get paid, even the minimum salary. I’ve never wanted to be the highest paid guy. All I wanted was a respectful negotiation to go on and that’s what happened this time. I’m nowhere near the highest paid punter or kicker and I didn’t want to be. I think we can spend money now hopefully on other guys to make this team great and elite and hopefully contend for Super Bowls. I’m completely satisfied with the amount of money I’m getting, just excited to be back.”
All quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.