MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Pat McAfee is one of West Virginia football’s most publicly visible alums, but the former all-American kicker/punter revealed on a recent broadcast of his radio show that he has been in a self-imposed exile from visiting WVU in the decade-plus since his college career ended.
However, comments from Mountaineers coach Neal Brown on Tuesday led to a response from McAfee that indicates the ice is thawing.
“He’s done a tremendous with the ‘For the Brand,’ Thursday night football, a radio show — the dude’s killing it,” Brown said during his weekly press conference. “I think he’s an important piece of our football history, and he, like anyone else who has a part in this football program, are welcome back any time. I look forward to the day he comes back.
“I hope he does, and maybe it’s a Thursday night football game or he has an open weekend to come for a game. He will be welcome and I think he’s done an incredible job putting himself in the position he’s in right now.”
McAfee posted a tweet showing his appreciation for Brown’s comments shortly thereafter. He also saluted former teammates like Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt.
Hey @NealBrown_WVU, I appreciate you. I was lucky to be a Mountaineer. ‘Twas an honor to watch @P5White, @Steve23Slaton, @SchmittsSaloon, @Ndevine07, @livereediculous, & the boys captivate the world while reppin Almost Heaven.
Thanks for the kind words, good luck.
Let’s Gooooo pic.twitter.com/FrH4PdwIyz
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 24, 2019
McAfee has had hard feelings about returning to Morgantown in the wake of fan behavior following his poor performance in West Virginia’s infamous 13-9 loss to Pitt. McAfee missed field goals of 20 and 32 yards in a game that remains one of the more puzzling results in college football history. The 5-7 Panthers prevented West Virginia from playing in the national championship game.
It remains an understandably disappointing night for any Mountaineer fan, but the ones who took their frustrations over the line led to McAfee’s isolation.
“It’s hard to go back to a place where you got 27 death threats, and any time you talk about them, someone tweets you, ‘If you would have made those two kicks, we’re national champs,'” McAfee said. “I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go ahead and block that place out of my life forever.'”
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 18, 2019
McAfee is still West Virginia’s all-time scoring leader with 384 career points. He spent eight seasons punting with the Indianapolis Colts after being taken in the final round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Since his 2017 retirement, McAfee has been an increasingly active media presence, including his promotion to ESPN’s Thursday Night Football crew. McAfee will be on the mic for West Virginia’s game at Baylor on Halloween night.