Pat McAfee Had Suicidal Thoughts During College Days At West Virginia

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Before Pat McAfee became a Pro Bowl punter in the NFL and the media giant that he is today, he was the field goal kicker for the West Virginia Mountaineers. One college game in particular, and the days following it, were a defining moment for the now 35-year-old.

The Mountaineers hosted Pitt in the ‘Backyard Brawl’ on December 1, 2007 during the final week of the regular season. West Virginia was the No. 2 team in the country and a home win over a 4-7 Pitt team would punch the ‘Neers ticket to the BCS National title game.


West Virginia ultimately lost the game 13-9 with McAfee missing field goals from 20 and 32 yards in the second half. While West Virginia’s offense could have played much better in the game, McAfee pinned the loss on his two short field goal misses.

After the loss, McAfee has his life threatened, his car vandalized, and his yard destroyed.

Pat McAfee #40 of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts after missing a field goal in overtime against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field September 18, 2008 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Pat McAfee Opens Up About Suicidal Thoughts

Reflecting on the game ahead of this year’s ‘Backyard Brawl’ on Thursday night, McAfee told Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger that he had suicidal thoughts after the loss to Pitt in 2007.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to live anymore,” McAfee explained.

“My life changed immediately that day. It was a terrible f-cking 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.”

McAfee went 2-for-4 on field goals during West Virginia’s win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a few weeks after the tough loss. He returned to West Virginia for his senior season going 36-of-36 on extra points and 17-of-20 on field goals helping the Mountaineers to a 9-4 season.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Written by Mark Harris

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