Pat McAfee, esteemed NFL punter, raconteur and bon vivant is bringing his sweet music to FOXSports.com. We’ll be giving him his own space every now and then to preach on whatever tickles his fancy. Remember to check out his charity at PatMcAfeeFoundation.org.
By Pat McAfee, FOXSports.com
Hello, beautiful people.
So, it’s the last week of the offseason, and all through the house, is a kicker in a speedo, excited to get out! Haha, that was ridiculous, but seriously. It’s the last week of the offseason and it’s one of the most important times for a player. It’s a time of reflection, goal-planning, decision-making and most importantly, it’s a time to get yourself ready to have the best season of your life.
In college, there never really was an offseason. The season would end, you’d get a week break and then the hardest time of the year would start. Winter workouts in college were absolutely miserable. They’d be at the ass-crack of dawn, and it’d be an “all you have” workout because there is nothing to save your energy for. There was no game at the end of the week that you needed to be fresh for, no cameras and no crowd of 60,000 people waiting for you to entertain them.
There were you, your brothers and your strength-and-conditioning coach who was ready to teach you about mental and physical toughness. Every. Freaking. Day.
I remember my roommates and I wouldn’t even sleep the night before some of the workouts because we were so nervous for whatever was about to happen to us the next morning. Hang-cleaning and squatting what seemed to be a damn house. Bench-pressing and curling until you couldn’t lift your arms. Then, we’d have conditioning: 110s (110-yard sprints), fifths (Laps around the field), 300-yard shuttles, gassers, 40s, and of course a dreaded hill that we would have to sprint up and down. By the end of the workouts we were all so defeated that after we got out of classes, all we wanted to do was sleep.
We’d wake up and do the same damn thing the next day. Obviously, like any college kid or working person, we enjoyed the hell out of the weekends — some of us a little too much — but for the most part the term “offseason” was very foreign to us.
After the last year of college, whether you’re a stud junior leaving early, or a senior trying to make it into the league, you still don’t have an offseason.
Immediately, after your last game, training begins to make your dream of playing in the NFL a reality. So, you spend that “offseason” training, doing combines, pro days and working out for teams. Once that whole series of events ends, you get picked up by a team, move to that city and a week later rookie minicamp starts. Then it’s OTAs, workouts and training camp. Finally, everything you had ever wanted in your life starts: the NFL season.
It’s not until after the last game of your rookie year do you have this thought: “What the **** am I going to do for the next couple months?”
There are no games, workouts, classes, NOTHING. You finally get time for yourself. Some players have no idea how to handle life without structure. That’s why some players get into trouble during the offseason. This is literally the first time in our lives we’ve ever had free time without somebody telling us where to be and what to do. The amount of players who get into trouble in the NFL is a VERY small minority, but they are the ones who make the headlines.
I once got into trouble, so I can tell you that no player deliberately tries to embarrass themselves. No player goes out of their way to make their team, city and most importantly their family look bad. Usually, it’s just a couple of poor decisions that aren’t thought out well. Most of us learn from these mistakes and move forward.
For players you don’t hear about in the news, they enjoy the hell out of the offseason.
They can travel and see things they never thought they’d see, or go back home to relax and see their kids and family that they haven’t had a chance to hang out with in a few months. I don’t have any offspring yet, so I do a lot of both. The offseason after my rookie year, I went to 13 different countries and probably 20 states. I rode a camel in Africa (Stupid. Don’t do it. It’s like riding a big, slow, awkward, spitting horse). I went to Las Vegas for the first time. I partied with some playmates in New Mexico and Miami. I chugged a “Das Boot” in Munich, Germany surrounded by a crowd of Germans chanting “USA”.
Reading this you might think that offseasons are really extended, sweet vacations — and they are — but we also know what is paying our bills. We know why we are able to travel the world and do these amazing things. We know what is putting the food on our families’ plates at night. We all work out and practice frequently, even during our traveling and relaxation times. We know that we have to, but it’s nice to do it on our own time.
I did so many things that first offseason, it should’ve been a movie. But by the end of it, just like the first day of school, you’re excited to get back.
The down time is fun, but you miss having a purpose every morning when you wake up. You miss having teammates who are counting on you to do your job. Mostly, you miss doing what you do best while millions of people watch. All of those thoughts are what make the last week of offseason exciting. The thought that in one week I’m going to be working my ass off with my teammates in hopes that our team will win the Lombardi is something that’s tough to describe.
You lay in bed, counting down the hours until check-in, hoping that your body is ready to have the best season you’ve ever had. You start putting numbers together in your head: “If our punt team can net 45 yards this year, that’ll set our defense up to be the best in the league.” You go through everything, so that when you get to training camp, it’s showtime.
Couple questions from the TweeterVerse
(You too can have your question answered. Just tweet it to me @PatMcAfeeShow and use the #McAfeeCulture)
@D_Grubbs4: What is your stance on indoor sunglasses? #McAfeeCulture #ESPYs
Hahaha … I watched the ESPY’s and asked myself this same question. How do I feel about sunglasses inside? I’m not sure. I do know that I think it makes you look extremely disconnected. Rules Nos. 1-5 of doing interviews should be, don’t wear sunglasses or say anything that makes you look like an ass. If you can’t see somebody’s eyes, it’s tough to know what type of person they are. It’s tough to look relatable. There’s a quote that says “Your eyes are the window to your soul,” but there’s another quote that says, “The sun never sets on a badass, so rock those shades all night.” So, I’m pretty conflicted about this for obvious reasons. Good question, brother.
@TyJayPhil: Favorite song ever? #McAfeeCulture
This is probably a pretty impossible question for anybody to answer. As you go through phases of life, there is usually a song that is pretty relevant during that stage. For instance, my senior year of high school was awesome. My friends and I were enjoying the hell out of our last year together and “50 Cent- In Da Club” was our theme song. So anytime I hear that song, I think about all of the insanely ridiculous stuff we used to do. Other notable songs that I’ve enjoyed through phases of my life are: Thong Song, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Ink My Whole Body and currently it’s anything Zac Brown is singing. Good question though.
Something to ponder
I think as the years have gone by, birds have gotten dumber and fish have gotten smarter. Now, obviously this isn’t a scientific fact, but from personal experience it has to be the case. Back in the day, birds would fly towards your car, get really close, but never hit the car. Nowadays, birds are either bored or really dumb. Two birds have ended their high-flying lives with the front of my car in last two weeks. One of them attacked my hood while I was sitting at a red light. So publish that, science books: Birds are dumber these days.
Also, I think it’s very apparent that fish are smarter these days. I recently have picked up the hobby of fishing because I remember hearing stories of how fun it was. Back in the day they used to fish with sticks and hooks. That’s it. No bait, no line, no twerking of the bait. Just plain old sticks. At some point, one fish told another fish, “Hey if you see a hook, don’t bite it”… The fish that heard that from the other fish, told a fish and so on and so on. Apparently, that piece of advice made it to the pond that I fish at — I’ve been fishing five times — and I haven’t caught a damn fish yet. And I refuse to believe it’s me, it has to be the smartass fish swimming beneath the surface.
Alrighty, that’s it. I’m going to go throw some bait in a pond and catch some more freaking sticks. Can’t wait for training camp to start. You all have a good day. Go kick the world’s ass.