Nov 02, 2014
How a $100 Poker Bankroll launched Pat McAfee's Incredible NFL Career
By RTR Dennis
In the broad spectrum of poker, $100 isn't even enough for Phil Ivey to make a prop bet at a restaurant. But for Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee, $100 proved to be the catalyst for a highly successful NFL career that's lasted for six seasons. That said, let's look at how McAfee parlayed his meager poker bankroll into a shot at sports glory.
This poker game was like something out of a movie
Many of us have seen Hollywood's version of poker, where some young gun walks into a smoky den full of shady looking characters with a few hundred dollars and a dream. There's usually some B.S. involved about the main character spotting a tell from one of his opponents and making off with a huge pot. We don't know if McAfee's story went exactly like this, but according to the Indianapolis Star, it's kind of close.
After his high school soccer career was over, McAfee borrowed $100 from a friend so that he could play in an underground poker game. The basement of a seedy Pittsburgh restaurant served as the setting for this game, and McAfee, still a high school senior, lied to his parents about where he was playing. Everything paid off as he turned $100 into $1,400 and used that money to fly to Miami, where college football coaches were looking for kickers. Here's how the Indy Star describes the scene that unfolded at the camp:
And he didn't miss. Not from 25 yards. Or 30 or 35 or 40. Not from 45 or 50 or 55. Not from 60. Not from 65. He drilled nine straight while the chatter swelled in the coaching box above. Who is this kid? Not until he boomed one from 70 – six yards longer than the current NFL record – did he miss, and even that one had enough leg on it before it sailed wide right.
On to the NFL
McAfee's performance at the kicking camp earned him a scholarship at West Virginia University, where he served as the team's punter and placekicker. He set plenty of records at West Virginia and caught the eye of Indianapolis Colts owner Bill Polian, who picked the Second-team All-American in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Since becoming a Colt, McAfee has consistently been one of the league's best punters, maintaining a 45.7-yard average over his six-year career. Also handling kick-off duties, he's had some successful onside kicks, including one that he recovered himself.
Beyond the gridiron, McAfee has had some very memorable and infamous moments. He's partied with Playboy Playmates, dated a beauty queen and been arrested for taking a drunken dip in Indianapolis' nightclub district. McAfee is also a regular on the nationally syndicated radio program Bob & Tom Show and owns a million-dollar mansion in suburban Indianapolis. And he can owe many of these things and memories to having $100 in a poker game.