Threats against McAfee subside
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For a couple of days, some fanatics turned the place into Almost Hell.
Death threats, vandalism and verbal abuse starting last weekend and directed at West Virginia kicker-punter Pat McAfee of Plum High School have subsided after his father went public on a West Virginia-wide radio network Tuesday about some fans' unruly behavior.
"It's a lot better now," Tim McAfee said yesterday. "Pat's a lot better. Sunday night, Pat was really distraught."
Tim McAfee felt compelled to e-mail MetroNews, the statewide radio network based in Morgantown, after his son experienced fans screaming at him from outside his off-campus house, angry text messages sent to his cell phone, verbal abuse aimed at his girlfriend, his late-model car vandalized and a death threat on his Facebook account saying, "McAfee must die."
His father said he didn't plan to press charges but merely wanted the treatment to end.
The younger McAfee, a junior, declined to comment yesterday.
McAfee was named to the All-Big East second team yesterday and was a three-time conference special teams player of the week this season. He converted 11 consecutive field goals to start the season, then missed a 56-yarder before halftime in the 66-21 victory against Connecticut.
But Saturday in the Backyard Brawl against rival Pitt, he missed two attempts within his range early in the game. He was wide on attempts from 20 and 32 yards, though the first try was from a bad angle, in a scoreless first quarter, and West Virginia ended up losing to Pitt, 13-9, costing it a spot in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game Jan. 7 in New Orleans.
"The majority of West Virginia fans are good, good people," Tim McAfee said, adding that his family in Plum has received nothing but support from Mountaineers followers since the weekend.
He said "it was a very limited number of people" harassing and threatening his son, most of them quite likely fellow students.
The father's MetroNews e-mail, which was a main subject on the network's Tuesday night sports-talk show, was a reaction to the online death threat.
"That put me over the edge," he said. "I got to do something. I got to say something about it. That's just not right."
An athletic department spokesman said no other Mountaineers players or coaches reported any similar incidents of harassment or threats.
Coach Rich Rodriguez, who like his kicker-punter declined comment, has spoken earlier this year about removing players' telephone numbers from the student directory because some -- including McAfee -- had received bothersome, harassing or otherwise unwanted calls from fans.
Morgantown police wore riot gear in patrolling downtown streets late Saturday night, when they reported one car fire and the arrests of five people caught setting blazes in a relatively controlled fan response to the Pitt loss.
Authorities reported eight Dumpsters fires and four rubbish fires in what they described as less activity than expected -- closer even to a usual game night.
First Published December 6, 2007 12:00 am