Since joining the Vikings in September 2019, Britton Colquitt has brought strength as a punter, reliability as a holder and a colorful personality to the locker room, where he's a distributor of smiles and custom muscle tanks, a ritual he began with Cleveland and continued in Minnesota.
After setting a Vikings single-season record with 42.6 net yards per punt last season, avoiding a single touchback and helping Dan Bailey connect on 19 consecutive field goals (plus three more in the playoffs), Colquitt was awarded a multi-year contract with Minnesota ahead of his 11th accrued pro season.
The Colquitt legacy of punters runs as deep as the Tennessee River through his hometown of Knoxville. He followed his father (Craig), brother (Dustin) and cousin (Jimmy) in punting at the University of Tennessee.
Craig (1978 by Pittsburgh) and Dustin (2005 by Kansas City) were each drafted in the third rounds of NFL Drafts, but Britton's first shot at the NFL occurred as an undrafted free agent with Denver in 2009.
He competed with current Titans Pro Bowl punter Brett Kern under former Chiefs, Broncos and Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer, who had coached Dustin in Kansas City from 2006-08 and joined Cleveland's staff in 2019.
Kern won the Broncos job in 2009 but was released six games into his second pro season. He was immediately claimed by the Titans and has earned three Pro Bowls.
Denver brought Britton back in December 2009. His first game was in 2010, beginning a six-season run that culminated with eight important punts in Super Bowl 50.
The Chiefs only needed two punts from Dustin in Super Bowl LIV in February. Kansas City's victory made Craig (XIII and XIV), Britton and Dustin the first father-and-two-sons trio to each win a Super Bowl.
Britton's career arc has been impressive. When the lockout loomed over the 2011 NFL offseason, a Denver television station featured he his wife, Nikki, shortly after their wedding. They didn't own a couch.
Through it all, Britton is founded on his Christian faith and has remained grounded in gratitude.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.
Q: What stands out when you reflect on your football journey?
A: "It's being so grateful every day for health, freedom, kids — we have four beautiful kids. I'm thankful for my wife and am just extremely thankful for my job and the fact that it is such a cool job. It's fun. It's still a game. I still enjoy it, and you get rewarded financially, what an incredible thing, but that's not even the biggest reward that I've gotten from it. That's cool, but at the same, problems come from that. Now I'm trying to deal with spoiled-rotten kids, but trying to remember and think about those days where you're just hoping to make it and trying to pay the bills. Now that we have been blessed, we are trying to give back and help those people who, the breaks haven't gone their way, and trying to give to organizations that help others and just help those that we know are in certain situations. Honestly, everything we have, from the air in our lungs to the shoes on our feet, God has blessed us with, and it's His. We try to live thinking, 'This is His.' It's not ours, so we're going to give back to Him and try to see where we can give back to His kingdom. At the end of the day, you can't take anything with you. The joy is just being in a relationship with Christ and your family and friends and kids and those around you. How can you bless others on your team? I feel like having a sense of humor and being myself and not taking anything too seriously, and if I can make somebody's day better in the locker room, I hope I can do that. … I can't believe I've done it for 10 years, going on 11. I tell everybody my minimum goal is to play until I'm 40 so I can tell these young guys that are 21 years old when I'm sitting in the sauna with them and they ask how old I am, I'm going to say 40 years old, and their jaw is going to drop. I just want to be that guy that says I'm 40."
Q: What do you remember from competing against Kern in 2009?
A: "Great guy. One of the biggest things that impacted me with him, besides being a fellow believer, which was great to be competing with a guy who is a Christian. … He's a big golfer, just like I am, and one of the things he did during training camp, here I am trying to take his job, and he takes me out to a pretty nice golf course, pays for my round and all of that stuff. That really impacted me. I've tried to do that for guys ever since, and every year that I've had to compete with somebody or had another kicker in camp or long snapper, I'm going to take those guys out and make sure to take care of them. … We catch up, keep up three or four times a year, always something encouraging and positive and just reach out and see how each other are doing. He always sends me a really nice text, 'You're killing it.' I'm like, 'OK, we're all trying to keep up with you, pal.' "
Q: Is Peyton Manning the funniest teammate you've had? Did you try to one-up each other?
A: "Well, one thing, you don't try to one-up Peyton Manning. That's not going to work, and you shouldn't do it anyway because it's Peyton. He's really funny. I've definitely played with some funnier guys, Wesley Woodyard (a former Broncos and Titans linebacker). He's one of the funniest humans on the planet and definitely in the NFL. Tons of characters. I would say Peyton is the funniest 'classy' guy, not that Woodyard's not or other guys. Just everything Peyton does is high-class. Everything is timed perfectly. He doesn't just say a joke or be funny at a certain point. Everything is when it should happen, whether it's serious or funny. … He's just the type of guy — he's almost like a Navy SEAL. You can't sneak up on him. He knows what's going on. If you're in the vicinity, he knows who you are and what your business is, and you can't get anything past him. With that being said, he knows everybody — whether you have a name or are new in town — and he treats everybody with respect and everybody as equal."
Q: Who was your original source of comedic inspiration?
A: "Oh man, when you first come in the league, there's just some of those guys, Wesley was one of those guys. … When your brother is who he is, and anybody that's played with him kind of knows that he's the team clown. It comes from him. My dad is a similar personality, and just growing up and hearing stories with him in the NFL, I guess we just kind of came into it in a way in a level of, 'Here's my personality,' and not hiding it in the NFL. … When I first got to Denver, Keith Burns was the assistant to Prief', and he had played in the league in Denver as well. He was so funny that he was literally a comedian on the side. He would go to the local [comedy club] and go up on stage and do a show. This guy is clowning the whole practice on players. He came from the era with, he obviously played at the end of Elway's era, but some of those guys that were on his team like Shannon Sharpe and Rod Smith — I mean he's a clown, too. Rod Smith would come to practice, and all of a sudden, the gang is back together. Those guys are clowning on each other and would make fun of guys like Champ Bailey. You're just like, 'These guys must have had the best time in the world.' "
Q: Was being a good holder expected in your household? Taught? Demanded?
A: "Honestly, no. It wasn't at all. I think because when you get comfortable with it and it's part of your job, it just becomes second nature. I don't think about it that much, and I guess my dad didn't either. I didn't hold at Tennessee, and I don't recall, 'Hey, I should be the holder. Let me hold.' I don't know if they still do it in college, but it kind of allows somebody else to dress and play, and I think that's cool — somebody who otherwise wouldn't be an active player, so I didn't really fight it. I don't recall at all, one time, dad being like, ['Holding is important,'] because my brother wasn't the holder at Tennessee either. That's just not how they did it. I had to learn quickly that first offseason and training camp. Honestly, Mike Priefer is the sole reason that I became a good holder because he used his military tactics, so I'm very thankful for that. It was miserable when I was there, but I'm thankful for it now."
Q: You held for Matt Prater's NFL record 64-yard field goal (against Tennessee in 2013). Was there added pressure on that or was it so cold that you didn't think about it?
A: "[I was thinking], 'OK, I've got to do my job so he can have a chance at this,' so in a way, there's that kind of pressure right there. … You're so cold, too, 18 degrees probably felt like lower, so sometimes in those games, you're trying to survive. We were just excited to be in that position because it doesn't happen a lot. I knew if he didn't try to kill it too much he would make it. Honestly we laughed about it afterwards, but he didn't hit that ball as solid as he normally does. … I think there's pictures out there where I'm jumping on his neck because I was just as excited as he was for him to get to do that. It couldn't happen to a better guy. It's going to be hard for it to get broken because it's so hard to be in that situation to hit something 65 yards, and then if you do get the situation you know there's probably a bunch of added pressure. That might last for a while, if not forever."
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