Pat McAfee has traveled to various destinations on his journey in life. Before he became the popular host of The Pat McAfee Show or the face of WWE Smackdownhe was a two-time Pro Bowl punter for the Colts, retiring in 2017.
Every athlete, even McAfee, remembers moments of recognition and the feeling of beginning a new chapter of life after football. Even before those moments and his eight-year career in the NFL, McAfee was a punter for the West Virginia football team under Rich Rodriguez.
Fifteen years ago McAfee, a Plum, Pa., native, McAfee missed two critical first-half field goals of 20 and 32 yards against Pitt, the Mountaineers’ biggest rival. The misses aided in WVU’s 13–9 loss at Milan Puskar Stadium and cost the program a chance to play in the BCS championship game. After an 11-year hiatus, the rivalry between the two schools known as the Backyard Brawl returns Thursday.
But its return brings back memories McAfee wants to erase. Following the defeat in Dec. 1, 2007, McAfee’s car was vandalized, his yard was destroyed and his life was threatened. McAfee told Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger that he contemplated suicide after the big game.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to live anymore,” McAfee said. “My life changed immediately that day. It was a terrible f—— night, to be honest with you. It was like something out of a movie. I just drove. I got all the way to Virginia through Maryland. I was gone for a couple days. I drove, parked, slept and kept driving. I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know where I was headed. I didn’t know what was coming next.”
Delenger: City vs. Country. Steel vs. Coal. The Pitt-West Virginia Brawl Returns!
As the series renews, Pitt holds the series advantage, having won 61 of the 104 total matchups. The Mountaineers have gone 21-19-2 against the Panthers since 1970.
WVU enters Thursday’s game with a special status. No major college football program has won more games in its history without winning a national championship than the Mountaineers. If not for the missed chip-shot field goals, McAfee and the program may sit on a different side of college football history.
More CFB Coverage:
For more West Virginia coverage, go to Mountaineers Now.