INDIANAPOLIS — Make no mistake about it: Pat McAfee is having the time of his life.
As Chief Operating Officer of Barstool Heartland in Indianapolis, McAfee stays plenty busy creating content and building his business, while also hoping to dive into other opportunities as they come.
A behind the scenes look at McAfee's last season with the Colts.
So while he doesn't spend much time thinking about his previous career — you know, the one where he was launching footballs as an All-Pro punter and kickoff specialist for the Indianapolis Colts — McAfee recently admitted he has a good idea when the NFL nostalgia might be kicking in.
Perhaps not surprisingly, McAfee — a guest this week on 1070 The Fan's "The Ride With JMV" — said those feelings will likely surface just before the Colts take the field for their more high-profile matchups this upcoming season.
"I think a big game I'll miss … the Houston games, the divisional games I'll miss, because that's the easiest way into the playoffs," he said. "I think (that's) the moment that I'll really think about, 'Gah, I wish I was out there.'
"I think whenever those big games pop up, there might be a little bit on that Sunday morning when I wake up where I want to hear the National Anthem again," McAfee continued. "And that's kind of the only thing I'll think about."
McAfee, of course, decided to hang up his cleats about a month after the end of the 2016 season. With two years left on his contract, the 29-year-old, who was coming off arguably the best punting season of his career, said he wanted to instead pursue a career in entertainment.
In the three-plus months since making that decision, McAfee says he remains content with the move.
"To be honest, every single moment of my life I thought about kicking footballs and how I could be the greatest kicker to ever kick a football in the history in the league, and I'm real excited to kind of let my mind off of that and focus on other things," he told JMV. "It's been really nice to kind of get away from that. I've been enjoying the heck out of it, with my friends and my company that I'm building up — it's just been a lot of fun to kind of do my own thing, and I haven't had a sense of regret yet."
That regret really doesn't kick in when McAfee thinks about what he'd be doing about this time of year had he stuck with the Colts: OTA workouts.
While he says they do have their value, McAfee certainly isn't missing that aspect of being in the NFL.
"I mean, OTAs are really important to, you know, new guys to a system or the rookies that are just drafted or anything like that. OTAs are a big deal for them," McAfee said. "But for vets, I mean, besides getting back in shape and stuff like that, there's nothing comparative to training camp and the seasons. OTAs is basically proving why we get paid the big bucks so we work all year-round. And the coaches love coaching."Next up: WWE?
McAfee says he got what he wanted to out of his NFL career: the opportunity to make life for his family and himself much better.
Now with a business to grow, the Plum, Penn., native has been working hard to pursue other dreams. While he hosts a popular podcast, "The Pat McAfee Show," and he has been frequently traveling to various destinations to gather up content for his site, McAfee also has his sights set on fulfilling the No. 1 item on his bucket list: jumping in a WWE ring.
Accordingly, McAfee has been training with the UFC's Chris "Lights Out" Lytle and Matt Mitrione to, as he puts it, work on looking "aesthetically pleasing."
"Because my upper body of an adolescent isn't the best for wrestling," McAfee said. "But I'm trying to look good now and see what happens."
McAfee has been in constant contact with a former Colts teammate who has been able to make a successful jump from the NFL to the WWE: Tom Pestock. Pestock, a guard, was signed by Indianapolis in 2009 after going undrafted out of Division II Northwest Missouri State. Though he wouldn't stay with the team long — he was released that September — Pestock and McAfee, then a rookie, forged a bond over their love of wrestling.
Now, Pestock finds himself as one of the WWE's most notable rising stars. Utilizing the ring name "Baron Corbin," he earned the title at the third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 32 just last April.
McAfee acknowledges he wouldn't be able to jump in full-time to the WWE until he's able to put his current business on the backburner, which could take a few years. But he hopes to continue training and, perhaps one day, earn the chance to make occasional appearances and achieve yet another lifelong dream.
"I think it's just one of those things where whenever you reach your dream, it's all about taking advantage of it, and that's kind of what Baron's trying to do right now is take advantage of of every moment and enjoy every moment," said McAfee, who envisions himself as a "bad guy" WWE character that "would win people over."
"Nothing's promised; you've gotta go earn it, just like everything. But I think that's bucket list No. 1, goal No. 1, dream No. 1, and to be honest, when I was a kid, that was the only thing I really wanted to do as adult. So it's kind of fun learning about that, too," he continued. "I just can't wait for the first time I walk out on that stage with an open mic in an arena. I have no idea what's going to happen."
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