The Colts set a pair of NFL records last season, largely thanks to Pat McAfee.

This past season, McAfee totaled 55 punts for 2,711 yards, averaging an NFL-best 49.3 yards per punt, which is the best average in franchise history. His 42.7 net punting average was third in the league. McAfee made the Pro Bowl twice while averaging 46.4 gross yards per punt and 39.8 net yards per punt. He had 33.6 percent of his 575 punt attempts land inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

McAfee’s game against the Bills was even up and beyond a typical McAfee performance, and that’s really saying something, considering how the West Virginia product has been one of the top punters in the league over his eight-year NFL career.

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The task now for new Colts general manager Chris Ballard is to find a capable replacement for McAfee, which is easier said than done, considering he has been one of the colts jersey sale top punters in the league, as well as an outstanding kickoff specialist.

“I say this with 100 percent sincerity: that conversion I had with Jim Irsay was one of the most incredible conversations I’ve ever had in my entire life,” McAfee said. “And he started off confused, but by the end of it, gigantic hug, incredibly happy for me, told me not to be a stranger, and literally the next day, he had his assistant sending me articles about the future of Hollywood and how I could get better, and be better at this and that. So I have his full blessing, which was a gigantic weight off my shoulders.”

Now, all players are subjected to these random tests throughout the season, and punters are no exception to the rule. But McAfee joked on his Twitter account that after his performance in the Colts’ preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, perhaps the “randomness” of the drug test wasn’t so random after all.

NFL Men's Nike Indianapolis Colts #1 Pat McAfee Stitched Green Olive Salute To Service KO Performance Hoodie
NFL Men’s Nike Indianapolis Colts #1 Pat McAfee Stitched Green Olive Salute To Service KO Performance Hoodie

The bond between McAfee and King started while they attended the Kohl’s Kicking Camp at the University of Whitewater-Wisconsin several years ago. The Oakland punter recalled the first time he met McAfee. The Colts punter was sporting “bright green shorts and a plaid vest. Didn’t match at all. No swag. But his personality allowed him to have swag.”

Not many people likely expected a punter to be the first outside free-agent signing made by new general manager Chris Ballard. It’s not a glamorous move, but signing Locke was a move that was necessary because of the retirement of McAfee after eight seasons in the NFL.

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The NFL and USAA, the league’s Official Military Appreciation Sponsor, announced on Thursday that McAfee and Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson were the two finalists for the fifth annual Salute to Service Award. But there’s the Pat McAfee from on the football field that the Colts now face the reality of having to replace. He surprised everybody by retiring at age 29 during the middle of the night Thursday to join Barstool Sports.

McAfee has swung an imaginary golf club after landing a punt inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. He’s strutted around the field like Conor McGregor and Vince McMahon and danced like Razor Ramon. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin even mocked McAfee after he pulled off the McGregor imitation during the teams’ Thanksgiving game.

After letting Irsay know of his decision, McAfee said he explained what he’ll be doing for Barstool Sports, which will include opening up an office in Indianapolis, where he’ll be running the show.

McAfee was the Colts’ emergency quarterback until they gave Whalen that role. It’s not surprising McAfee is volunteering his quarterbacking skills. He’s already one of the best punters in the NFL and he wants the opportunity to kick field goals at some point in his career.