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Dip in canal leads to Colts punter McAfee's arrest, suspension

Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee became an example for his teammates entering their bye week -- and not in a good way.

The Colts on Wednesday suspended McAfee for one game, making the decision a little more than 12 hours after he was arrested for public intoxication. Police said McAfee took a pre-dawn swim in a city canal and told them, "I am drunk," as he tried to explain why he was sopping wet in the Broad Ripple neighborhood, a trendy area known for its nightlife.

Officers say the second-year pro from West Virginia had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit for driving in Indiana. He was released from custody just before noon, about six hours after his arrest.

"Certainly not pleased," Jim Caldwell said with one of the sternest expressions he has shown in two seasons as the Colts' coach. "Very disappointed in what happened, and once we have all of the information, we'll take action at that time."

According to the police report, McAfee, 23, was asked whether he was swimming in the canal and answered, "I am not sure." When asked why he was wet, McAfee responded, "It was raining." When asked where his shirt was, McAfee said, "In the water." And when asked how much he had to drink, McAfee said: "A lot, cause I'm drunk."

McAfee wasn't released from custody before the Colts practiced and wasn't in the locker room during the 45-minute media availability following practice. By then, radio talk shows and local blogs had turned McAfee into the butt of jokes.

Not surprisingly, the Colts didn't find humor in it. They have now had four players arrested on alcohol-related charges this year.

"I talk about it more often than the bye weeks," Caldwell said. "But that's not the issue. What I've been doing hasn't been enough. So the fact of the matter is we've got to get it straightened out."

The Associated Press sent an e-mail seeking comment from Colts owner Jim Irsay and left two messages at the office of McAfee's attorney, Jim Voyles.

Colts president Bill Polian said the team decided to suspend McAfee for the Nov. 1 game against the AFC South rival Houston Texans. McAfee also could face NFL penalties under the substance-abuse policy.

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Police were called after a driver at a red light reported that a man with no shirt approached her car. The woman told police she feared the man would try to get in her car, so she ran the red light and called 911.

McAfee then told police he was waiting for a friend to get him and that he planned to take a taxi home, the report said. He asked if he could walk home, but officers arrested him. They say he smelled of alcohol, his eyes were watery and bloodshot and his speech slurred.

Officers said they had to help McAfee stand up after giving him a breath alcohol test.

Some teammates already were offering assistance.

"Look, it's my job as Pat's friend and teammate to be there and support him, and I know that sounds like a company line, but it's not," wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez said. "It's the truth. We have to be there to help him."

Teammates also understand that another arrest has again damaged the Colts' mostly clean-cut reputation.

In January, Colts wide receiver Taj Smith was stopped by police on suspicion of drunken driving. Smith spent last season on the Colts' practice squad, but he was cut Sept. 4.

In August, backup defensive lineman John Gill was arrested for public intoxication after Indianapolis police found him passed out in a ditch. The charge was later dropped, but Polian said then that Gill would be placed in a roster category that would keep him inactive all season.

On Sept. 3, defensive tackle Fili Moala was arrested for driving while intoxicated, public intoxication and speeding.

And now it's McAfee, whose Twitter bio reads in part "welcome to the partyy." Before the arrest, McAfee posted on Twitter: "Bye week bye week bye week. Time to get some ish done. Happy Tuesday Party people."

"What Coach says from the beginning of training camp is expected to be carried out," left tackle Charlie Johnson said. "Nobody feels worse than the guys that got in trouble. But they hurt the team's image, and, hopefully, we don't have anything else happen like this."

Players insist there isn't a drinking problem among the Colts.

"Look, we're all human, we all make mistakes, and we'd all like to take something back that we did when were younger," running back Joseph Addai said. "It's what you do afterward that makes the difference. The biggest thing is being a man, accepting your mistake and moving forward."

Which is precisely what Caldwell intends to do Thursday before players leave town for the bye week.

"We talk about it -- we talk about it often," Caldwell said. "One time is too many, and we've had a few more than we'd like."

McAfee is averaging 44.7 yards per kick, has placed eight punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line and has had 11 touchbacks on kickoffs. Only two teams -- the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons -- have forced opponents to start drives deeper than McAfee after kickoffs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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