The Mile High City’s Southern Gentleman
Three years after Craig Colquitt’s first punt for the University of Tennessee resulted in a safety, the third-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers bared two Super Bowl rings. By 1979, the Colquitt family legacy had been written, and 35 years later Colquitt has become a household name in the NFL, as three men have delineated the name in the league as punters. Craig and his wife, Anne, raised two sons who will more than likely hold the same title as their father in the near future. Dustin of the Kansas City Chiefs and Britton of Denver Broncos have had incontestable success on the gridiron, but their triumphs off the field have been even more prolific.
Britton, Anne and Dustin Colquitt- Broncos vs. Chiefs 11-17-13
Britton Colquitt, a Knoxville native, is the Mile High City’s very own southern gentleman. The husband to a stunning woman, Nikki, and the father to a charming son, Nash, Britton has used his strong spiritual connection with God to become a man his family and the communities he represents are continuously awed by. His devotion to his family, passion for philanthropy, and fierceness on the football field makes him the perfect representation of what it means to be a Modern Gladiator.
With your father being a Super Bowl champion, you had the most incredible role model growing up. What was it like being raised by someone with that kind of an accomplishment?
Growing up, I didn’t really realize my dad was a Super Bowl champion, even though there was Pittsburgh Steelers stuff all over the walls and signed autographs everywhere. We’d wear his old jerseys and dress up as him for Halloween, but I didn’t know what it all meant at the time. When I got a little older and started realizing what my dad did, it seemed so normal. It really made Dustin and I who we are today—professional athletes, just because it was the norm for our family. In school, I remember the teacher asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’d say, “I’m going to play professional football.” I think all along I had a quiet confidence that at some point I was going to be [in the NFL].
You received a degree in political science from the University of Tennessee, but did you ever think you would need to use it?
No. Never. I have a family friend who is an attorney in Knoxville, and he’s always told me, “Britton, if you ever want to be a lawyer, you’d be a good one.” While it’s not a great thing to say, political science was just my major. I wanted a degree, but I knew I was going to be playing football.
Punting has become your family’s legacy. Was there any point in your life where you thought about rebelling and taking a different path than what the rest of your family took?
The only time I really rebelled was when I was being recruited. Since everyone else went to Tennessee, I thought I wanted to go to Florida or Georgia or wherever. I loved Tennessee growing up, I was a fan, but I was just trying to be different. I think it would have been a huge mistake if I didn’t go to UT; who knows if I would even be here today?
I went through ups and downs at Tennessee. Coach Fulmer—who he is and who he is to me—is just incredible. He was almost more of a father figure than he was a coach; he propelled me to where I am today. Plus, just being in Knoxville was great! When I got there, somehow, people already knew who I was. People would be like, “Hey, there’s Colquitt,” and I hadn’t even played yet!
Do you think people may have confused you with Dustin?
We look enough alike to be brothers, but we look pretty different in the face, even though we’re the exact same height, build, and we sound the exactly the same. My mom even gets us confused on the phone.
It seems like you and Dustin are incredibly close. What was your relationship like with him throughout your younger years?
I haven’t met a lot of brothers that are as close in age as we are, and got along as well as we did growing up. I don’t remember one fight with Dustin. Yeah, he probably got annoyed of me every now and then, but he and his buddies always included me. Don’t worry, they made fun of me plenty because I couldn’t say my “R’s” right, so they’d always ask me, “Hey, what month were you born in?” I’d say, “Mahch.”
When it came to football, Dustin always wanted to be around to teach me how to punt. Because we were so close, I never said I wanted to do something other than what my brother did because I looked up to him. When he left Tennessee he asked me to take his number, 47, and I did. That was really a dream come true.
Even now when we play each other, people will ask if we wager on who punts better throughout a game, but we don’t even talk about that. We’re just excited to see and hug each other. We don’t try to outdo each other; we support one another.
You’re a member of arguably the most dominant team in the NFL, but with an offense led by Peyton Manning, Bronco’s fans aren’t seeing you on the field as much anymore. How does it feel to not be needed as much as you once were?
I don’t like not being needed. It feels good to be more a part of the game like I was back in the Tim Tebow days when I was needed for field position because, well, that’s what I do! I miss punting sometimes, but winning is better. At this point in the season, usually, I would have had at least three or four more games more worth of punts, but the offense is clicking even more this year and winning is the most important thing. At some point, they’re going to need me, but that’s what’s tough about my job. It’s better for me to be punting a lot so I can stay in a rhythm, but I always have to be ready. That’s the mental part—I just have to find a way to be on my game. But hey, I hold for Matt Prater. He couldn’t kick field goals without me! Of course, there are backup holders on the team.
Prater wouldn’t be one of the Top-5 total point leaders in the league if it weren’t for you, right?
Yeah, exactly! If you could have a holder on your fantasy team, I think that I’d be worth at least one-half of a fantasy point each time Prater scores.
You’ve been in a situation when Head Coach John Fox is telling you to punt, while Manning is still on the field waving you off. Do you ever find yourself fighting an internal battle of who to listen to?
I’ve never been in a football pickle between the two because eventually they figure it out. It’s a struggle sometimes when it’s fourth and short. The crowd wants us to go for it but the coaches call for a punt. Great, now I’m running out there, the crowd’s booing, and the devil on my shoulder is saying, “They’re booing you!” (Laughs.)
I know they’re not; they’re booing the fact that we’re punting, but I’m the punter. They’re booing what I do. Don’t boo me! (Laughs.) Coach Fox is a really smart, conservative coach, but sometimes I even ask myself why aren’t we going for it or why we’re not going for a long field goal. I just listen to what I’m told to do and everyone else does the same. Well, not Peyton. He’s the only exception.
You’ve been incredibly successful on the field, but I’m sure you’d argue your personal life has been even more fruitful. Today, you have the All-American family: a gorgeous wife, precious little boy, and a baby girl on the way. But how did it all start?
Well, Nikki went to the University of Memphis while I was at UT. The Vols played the Tigers in 2005, and we actually had mutual friends who we didn’t know were mutual at that time. We were all hanging out in this gravel parking lot, I’m talking to my buddies, and she apparently asked one of her friends, “Do you dare me to go kiss that guy?”
Man, she hates me telling this story. It really embarrasses her. Anyways, all of a sudden I hear someone is running across the gravel, so all I’m thinking is I’m about to get hit or jumped. Right as I turned around I realized I was getting jumped, but it was by this little five-foot-four girl flying through the air. She landed right in my arms and before I could even look at her she just laid a big kiss on me.
I pulled her away and I couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was. She went back to Memphis, and I was in Knoxville so we kept in touch through Facebook. It wasn’t until three years later, after she messaged me asking if I remembered her, that we really started talking. I mean, how could I forget her? Video chat had just come out so we would stay up all night talking; it was like I was right there with her. Eventually, I went down to Memphis to visit her and that was it, that’s when I really knew she was the one.
How does she inspire you each and every day?
She is so supportive and loving, but she’s also hard on me. I need it, though. She’s a mom, so she’s kind of become my new mom, too. But I think that’s what a wife is sometimes, just because men are such a different breed. In our culture, the dad or man of the household is known for just sitting on the couch, watching TV and not helping out with the children or around the house. I don’t want to be that kind of husband or father. I want to be the leader of the family in every way, spiritually and financially. That’s what God has put us here to be and that’s what we are. She inspires me to be that man, for her, family, and myself. I want Nash to look up to me and have a role model of the man he wants to become.
How has Nash changed your outlook on life?
It completely puts things into perspective. Say you had a big, yellow phone book of things you thought and worried about on a day-to-day basis, it narrows it down to one single post-it note. You throw the phone book out the window and he’s all that matters. Nikki, Nash, house, dog, and keeping them happy are the only things on the post-it note. Nikki and I were married in March 2011 and we were pregnant four months later. Things can change so fast, but I can’t even remember what life was like without him. You could say it’s more responsibility, but I don’t think of it like that because I love him so much. He’s really simplified my life because he’s all I care about. Every day when I come home, whether they’re in the house or in the driveway, he’s laughing and screaming “Daddy” and pointing at me. It’s just amazing to be loved like that.
I’m sure there are countless, but what is one of you favorite memories you’ve made with Nash?
Right now, it’s really funny because there’re a few words like “shirt” and “shrimp” that he can’t get right. Instead, he says, “Shit.” Like the other night I was feeding him peel n’ eat shrimp and he was like, “Daddy, more shit, more shit!” (Laughs.) So, it sounds like he’s saying “shit” pretty much all the time.
Oh, I can’t forget this one! The other day he put my old glasses on and he just made this face, where he scrunched everything up and tucked his lip. His entire personality changed, he started looking at the ground weird and walking all slowly. He looked just like the little kid from Jerry McGuire. It’s too cute.
Will you ensure Nash carries on the Colquitt family tradition of punting?
Our dad didn’t push us, so I won’t push Nash either. Dustin has three boys, maybe four any day now, so at least one of them will play to continue on the family name in the league. If Nash didn’t play I wouldn’t be mad, but he’s already kicking and loves playing with the football. Everything’s a football to him, every kind of ball. Unless he only gets to be Nikki’s height, then there’d be no reason he couldn’t play. I’ll definitely teach him, but he can play whatever sport he wants.
Okay, so he doesn’t have to be a punter, but will he be going to the University of Tennessee?
That…I think I’ll have to say yes. Tennessee honors the family name and they definitely give the name a shot. Maybe he’ll play golf, but he’ll be a Volunteer.
You’ve made it a priority not only to be a great family man, but also to stay involved in the community. In what ways are you giving back?
I definitely feel like I could always do more. Before Nash, I was out in the community every Tuesday doing something, and now we do things together. If I can’t give time, necessarily, financially I’ve been blessed to be able to help out in that way as well.
I give to “Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” which affected me a lot growing up. “Young Lives,” a branch off Young Life, benefits teen moms. We’re able to help girls who are 12 years old with a baby, and give them the chance to have a life. Also, Garth Brooks’ foundation “Teammates for Kids” is another great one I’ve really enjoyed being apart of. Garth and Troy Aikmen teamed up to support many different foundations, and whatever you give, they’ll triple it and one hundred percent of the proceeds go to the kids. They provide “safe zones,” or places where hospitalized children can go to play and no doctors are allowed in. It’s really cool because there aren’t many foundations out there they give all of the proceeds to the kids.
What’s been the most memorable philanthropic endeavor you’ve been a part of?
Convoy of Hope, which is a Christian-based foundation that does any kind of relief and gives people everything from water and food to an education. They took us to Haiti a few years ago for an event Dustin was helping out with and it was just unbelievable. They take children off the streets and provide them with a basic education, of course, but they also teach them about God so they’re really giving these kids a chance. Without this program, these kids would have no hope, physically or spiritually. There was one place where the only shelters for these kids were tents, and this was one of the locations they were fixin’ to renovate. There was a baby that was so young, probably six or seven months old, naked and lying in the dirt. Somehow, he fell in love with me and all he wanted was to be held. I held this baby for two hours, he laid his head on my shoulder and when we tried to leave he wouldn’t let me put him down. This baby, besides the Convoy of Hope who provided him a partial shelter, was basically homeless.
It’s something I can hardly describe. When I look at Nash he’s wearing Baby GAP and throwing his food on the floor, while these babies in Haiti have nothing at all. Some have that glossed over look in their eyes like they have no hope at all, but most of the kids in the safe houses didn’t have those eyes because they had hope. This is a country where they don’t have anything at all, but they have that look of happiness in their eyes was an incredibly eye opening experience for me.
What’s next for you?
In the future I’d like to start my own foundation. I haven’t set it up yet; it’s still in the thought process. I would say the main focus would definitely involve kids because I know these children are going to grow up and be adults someday. I want it to be more of a spiritual thing as well. If you don’t have faith, you don’t have hope, and I want to give children hope. I’m not totally sure what angle to take, but we’re going to do something. If we can give kids a life similar to Nash’s or at least some kind of excitement, we will be successful.
What do you say to the people who claim they don’t have time to get involved in the community?
Here in America, all we have is time. We did that Haiti trip in a day and a half. Everyone has a couple days they could spare. You could spend some of your time off doing a mission trip. While it may be tough to turn down a trip to Tahiti or something like that, I can guarantee that you’ll feel so much better about yourself, you’ll be happier and more fulfilled if you take the mission trip instead. You’ll have the chance to affect a life and there’s nothing like that. Anytime you give back, you’re also giving yourself a gift, too.
Britton Colquitt (Broncos Punter), Martin Alvarez (CEO of MG), Maynie Alvarez (President of MG), Justin Sandy (CEO of Natural Instinct Nutrition)
What was it that intrigued you about Modern Gladiator to the point that you wanted to be a part of our mission to make men better men?
There’s nothing out there like Modern Gladiator. The biggest problem in this country is the men. So many men are either not being a true man, or they’re thinking that being a man is something that it’s not.
My faith plays a huge role in what I believe it means to be a man. With God and Jesus, it’s kind of opposite of the world. For example, men think it’s not manly to hug or show emotion, whereas Jesus said the opposite—hug everyone and love everyone. Nowadays, it’s about tough love toward your kids, not holding them and kissing them. That’s why there are so many insecurities in the world. Little boys don’t understand physical touch and that it’s not wrong for a father to kiss his son. It’s hard to argue who’s more affected by the father—the son or the daughter. Girls who aren’t loved by their dads don’t have a model of whom they should strive to be with. If her father abused his daughter, a lot of the times that’s the kind of relationships women will find themselves in because that’s all they know.
I feel like I have a responsibility as a man to be a good role model, and an even bigger responsibility as an athlete. I want kids to look up to me and see that a true man isn’t a womanizer. A true man doesn’t bully; he loves his family and he’s out there helping those in need. When you think of a gladiator, you think of manly men doing manly things. You can be that, and you can be today’s man. Nikki even asked if I should shave for the photo shoot, and I said, “No, I’m a Modern Gladiator. I’m a Modern Gladiator and I don’t need to shave my beard!” You can look manly, but that doesn’t mean being rough, out of touch, and insensitive. A true man is loving, admits when he’s wrong, is caring, and shows vulnerability. The fact that Modern Gladiator is out there supporting just that is refreshing.