McAfee's drunken swim no laughing matter for Colts brass

October 20, 2010
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There’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy. And though I’m sure no one is laughing in the Indianapolis Colts’ front office today, most would have to admit, the story of Pat McAfee taking a drunken swim in the pre-dawn chill shortly before 5 a.m. this morning in the Broad Ripple canal has its humorous elements.

Like McAfee telling police he was wet because it was raining. But it wasn’t raining, and McAfee’s shirt was in the canal. Certainly the Colts’ second-year kicker isn’t an accredited meteorologist. He’s not even a very good liar. Indianapolis is darn near in the midst of a drought for crying out loud.

Of course, no one would be laughing if McAfee had died of hypothermia, which is a distinct possibility if he had stayed out much longer soaking wet in the 43-degree air. It would have been equally sobering had the 23-year-old gotten into a car, driven drunk and hurt someone. For the record, McAfee told police he was waiting for a cab or a friend to pick him up. Then he asked police if he could walk home.

Indianapolis’ police reported that McAfee’s blood alcohol content was .15, well over the .08 designation for being legally drunk.

While McAfee’s behavior doesn’t rise to the level of beating up a girlfriend or firing a weapon in public, most would agree drinking alcohol to the point of making really stupid decisions is no laughing matter. And when you’re a public figure who plays a game watched by countless youngsters each week, that makes the matter even more serious.

This isn’t the first time a Colts player has run afoul of the law. The team has at times distanced itself from such players. Other times, they’ve given their scofflaw team members a second chance.

He obviously doesn’t mean as much to the Colts as Peyton Manning or Dwight Freeney, but McAfee is a promising, young kicker. Colts owner Jim Irsay and President Bill Polian have an interesting decision to make this week.

We’ll see how Colts fans will react. Winning has a way of soothing city residents’ ire over such incidents. But make no mistake, a number of high-profile misdeeds by professional athletes in this city has made sports followers hyper-sensitive to such things.

While the fans might forgive—as long as the team is winning—they won’t soon forget. A bevy of bad will simmering just below the surface of a Super Bowl contender could come back to bite the team when they’re not so good.

One thing is certain. Irsay and Polian know how hard it is to build a team’s image, especially in a relatively conservative city like Indianapolis.

And you can bet they won’t be laughing this incident off.

  • Aw, come on
    There's a world of difference between drunk in Broad Ripple and driving drunk or discharging a weapon. One is just stupid, the others are dangerous.

    This incident likely violates some aspect of the NFL's personal-conduct policy, so I'd suggest the Colts do exactly what the league rules call for. I don't think they should cut him, but he should be on not-so-secret probation with the team. Maybe also sit for a week of suspension.
  • Moronic
    Every time I read something from you, I get that much more stupid.
  • dumb down
    Hey RNR, don't overestimate yourself. You're about as dumbed down as is humanly possible. So worry not and read on.
  • RE: RNR
    And you keep reading and commenting because...?
  • Ah to be 23, Stupid & Invincible
    Give the kid a break. Hell, the ribbing he's gonna have to endure from his teammates alone is going to be punishment enough.
  • Really!?!
    He is young! Teaching him how silly his actions were, yes, but extreme punishment, no! Public humiliation, fines and jail time is punishment served.
  • Give him a break
    He's young and he didn't hurt anyone. Give him a break. The colts would be crazy to come down too hard on the guy although clearly he has to take some responsibility for bad decisions.
  • I wonder ... Pacers
    I wonder if we'd all be saying the same thing about this incident if it was a member of the Indiana Pacers who decided to take a dunk in the canal.
    • Big difference
      The incidents involving Pacers' players endangered themselves and others. Some of the incidents were felonies. McAfee did not drive his car while drunk. He did not shoot a gun. He did not assault anyone else. There's no comparison.
    • Story non-story
      I'm sorry but I think this is a story being blown way out of proportion. Yes, I know the young man (emphasis on young) was totally inebriated. Yes, he endangered himself and possibly others by his drunkeness.

      But he's also a mere 23 years old and who among us didn't do stupid things and make mistakes at that age?

      McAfee will be punished in some way by the Colts and the NFL and learn from his mistake. Just like many of us did.

      For those who didn't, how's that glass house you're living in?
    • one of hundreds
      1. It would be irresponsible if he had practice today at 9am, but it is a bye week.
      2. He is one of probably at least 10 drunk people per week that decide to take a dip in the canal when intoxicated(though probably the only one on a Tuesday night).
      3. The fact that he was on College Ave. is disturbing. To get in trouble in the middle of all the debauchery in a given night in broad ripple shows he's on the fringe, and needed a slap on the wrist.
      4. My roommate has done MUCH worse in that canal at 5am.

    • As Peyton will say
      Just another liquored up kicker :-)
      Pat, these little incidents are what ruins careers- learn from it now before you are a hasbeen-
    • If only that was the worst thing....
      that I'd ever done in Broad Ripple! My goodness this town is uptight.
    • call him a cab
      i was in ripple at 1:30 picking up friends after a party i cant believe she never saw a drunk in ripple at 5:30 in the morning before.scared or looking for attention.

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