Britton Colquitt is a branch of NFL punting royalty, and when the Vikings signed him last Sunday, it gave him a start on his 10th pro season.
But Colquitt’s NFL career almost ended before it started. Undrafted out of Tennessee, where he had alcohol-related arrests, he was cut by Denver in training camp in 2009.
His brother, Dustin, was in his fifth season as Kansas City’s punter, and gave Britton a phone call.
“He said, ‘Hey, just drive on over to Kansas City,’ ” Colquitt recalled. “You stay with us however long you need, and also be a baby sitter.”
Dustin Colquitt helped save his little brother’s career, furthering the Colquitt pedigree of punters. It started with their grandfather, Lester, an all-state Tennessee high school punter. Their father, Craig, was a two-time Super Bowl champion punter for the Steelers; uncle Jimmy, punted for the Seahawks in 1985, and a cousin, Travis, punted for Marshall and had a cup of coffee with the Bills in 1995.
In six weeks living with his brother’s family, Britton recalibrated personally and professionally. He saw firsthand a pro punter’s lifestyle, worked out at high schools and developed the end-over-end kick — called a rugby punt — he has used for the past nine NFL seasons.
Colquitt, now 34, said he also matured before the Broncos added him to their roster December 2009.
“I got to see what family life was like, what was more important — raising your kids and doing those things,” Colquitt said. “That helped a lot to grow, to see [Dustin] go to work every day and learn what it was like to be a pro. Because, obviously, I wasn’t maybe ready when I was in Denver.”
Ten years later, Colquitt arrives as the Vikings’ fourth punter in four years. No further maturity is required: Colquitt has booted 718 punts and was an AFC Pro Bowl alternate after pinning 32 punts (the second-highest total of his career) inside the opponents’ 20-yard line for the Browns last season. He was let go after three seasons in Cleveland last week in favor of the big-legged, 22-year-old Jamie Gillan.
Colquitt, who earned a Super Bowl ring with the 2015 Broncos, also will be the Vikings holder, which he’s done for other teams for nine NFL seasons. Holds were an issue for the Vikings this summer as they rotated punter Matt Wile and receiver Chad Beebe in the role.
Cursed Vikings specialists? Colquitt smiled at the notion.
“It makes me excited; you know what I mean?” Colquitt said. “I feel confident, because I’ve done it. This is my 10th year, so I feel confident in that. I’m not worried about that. I don’t feel like there’s a curse. Maybe in Tampa, there’s a curse for drafting kickers — I don’t know why you’re going to continue to do that. But I don’t think there’s a curse here. I just think there hasn’t been a good mesh.”
There’s little that surprises Colquitt after 144 NFL games, including when his oldest son, 7-year-old Nash, started expressing interest in the family punting business.
“So he already thinks he’s going to do that,” Colquitt said. “Let’s do it. What a way to live your life.”