Pat McAfee was the best punter and onside kick artist in the entire NFL during his prime. He played eight seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and made two Pro Bowls during his NFL career. His path to becoming a professional kicker is one of the most unique you’ll ever hear, too. If not for a $1,400 win in an underground poker game in high school, McAfee would’ve never even made it to the NFL.
Pat McAfee turned a $100 loan into $1,400 in an underground poker game
As a high school senior, Pat McAfee wasn’t garnering much attention from Division I football programs. He was quite a talented soccer player, so he had far more options to continue his athletic career on the pitch at the next level.
Although he was a more coveted soccer star, McAfee had a special passion for football. He was about to accept his only Division I offer from Kent State until a unique opportunity arose his senior year.
As signing day quickly approached, McAfee got invited to a kicking camp in Florida. The only problem was the trip was too expensive. McAfee’s parents wouldn’t put up the $1,500 to send him to the camp, so he took the situation into his own hands.
McAfee borrowed $100 from a friend and joined an underground poker game. After winning a massive hand with a full house, he walked out of the room with $1,400. With a $100 addition from his parents, McAfee was on his way to Florida.
McAfee dominated the camp and received an offer from West Virginia the next day
Before miraculously winning enough money to send himself to the prestigious kicking camp, McAfee was unsure if he was even going to play football in college.
That changed within a span of 24 hours. McAfee arrived at the camp and made nine straight field goals, including a 60- and a 65-yarder. The only kick McAfee missed was from 70 yards out.
McAfee left the camp feeling good about his performance, but he didn’t expect his life to change in a matter of hours. The next day, West Virginia‘s recruiting coordinator visited McAfee at his high school and offered him a scholarship on the spot.
McAfee went on to have a brilliant kicking career at West Virginia, and he was later drafted by the Colts in 2009. The rest is history.
Pat McAfee owes his NFL career to a full house in a poker game
Pat McAfee’s career wouldn’t have been possible without a couple of ifs going his way. If he wasn’t drafted by the Colts in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft, he might’ve never made an NFL roster. If he didn’t make nine straight field goals at a scouting camp in high school, he would have never gone to West Virginia.
And if McAfee didn’t draw pocket jacks in that poker game, he never would’ve won the hand that changed his life.
The full house McAfee drew that day might be the only reason he was eventually able to make it to the NFL.