The long, strange road to stability at kicker in Chicago still has a few twists left.
While the Bears are currently auditioning Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry for the role heading into Week 1, the job very nearly went to someone who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016 and hasn’t kicked since he was in college: former Colts punter Pat McAfee.
The backstory makes it sound like the two sides were just about set until the 32-year-old’s body began to fight back. Speaking to the “Dan Patrick Show” on Friday, McAfee says he was deep in discussion to join the Super Bowl contenders.
"All the stars seemed to be aligning for a potential comeback for me to kick field goals,” McAfee told Patrick. “I went through an entire stress test with their kicking coach. The ball was flying well. I think I was going to be the first guy in the history of the league that both punted and kicked successfully in the NFL."
McAfee was a two-time Pro Bowler and a First Team All Pro at punter with the Colts from 2009-2016. He abruptly retired following the 2016 season to focus on a career in media. He’s since worked on broadcasts for the NFL and college football, along with a brief stint with Barstool Sports and some WWE appearances.
Yet before all that, McAfee was a reliable kicker for West Virginia in college. He connected on 210 of 212 extra point attempts as a Mountaineer while making 58 of 79 field goals over four years.
Add in the fact that his former coach in Indianapolis, Chuck Pagano, is now the defensive coordinator in Chicago and it sure seemed like the Bears had found an answer to their problems — even if it were a bit unconventional.
At least it seemed that way before McAfee’s knee began to swell up.
"I got on a plane and my old-ass knee just started to swell up and I couldn't even get to the bathroom.” McAfee said. “My knee was literally talking to me, like, 'Hey, man, we're not doing this again. Let's just talk into microphones, enjoy our lives, have some vitamins. We're not getting back into the rigors of kicking footballs again.' I was ready to do it again, full focus.”
Now just weeks away from the season opener, Chicago still doesn’t know who will be their kicker when the games start to count. Rumors have been flying that the team is trying to trade for someone as their two camp attendees battle to win the job before someone else beats them to it.
At least four teams have called the Ravens to inquire about trading for kicker Kaare Vedvik, with at least two of those calls coming from NFC North teams, per a league source. Ravens don’t have to do anything in the short term, but will deal the kicker at some point this summer.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 11, 2019
As the Bears wind down their training camp and head back to Chicago, even the kickers still with the team are watching their backs.
Bears kicking hopeful Eddy Pineiro thinks the competition is “pretty even” with Elliott Fry so far, “but what you guys don’t understand is we’re also competing against every kicker in the league.” Thanks, but we understand that very, very well.— Jason Lieser (@JasonLieser) August 11, 2019
The double-doink isn’t done torturing the city just yet.
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