4th Down and Five To Go — Dustin ColquittBy Sharon Harl — Contributing Writer | Photos provided by Dustin Colquitt and The Kansas City Chiefs

Dustin Colquitt may be the highest paid punter in the NFL, but he is firmly grounded by his faith and his family. “There is one big, nonnegotiable rule in this house,” Dustin says. “Walk with Jesus, and learn to play golf and ping-pong.”

The first part of the rule is obvious. And Dustin says golf and ping-pong are big in the Colquitt clan, and both can be played for a lifetime.

Dustin, who was born into a dynasty of punters, never really gave punting or football a thought. Instead, he played soccer and basketball. His father, Craig, who played for the Pittsburg Steelers from 1978 to 1984, has two Super Bowl rings. His brother Britton punts for the Denver Broncos. And his cousin, Jimmy Colquitt, holds the career punting title at the University of Tennessee, which the whole family attended.

And although Dustin’s father ran a summer punting camp, Dustin would rather swim in their pool than attend the camp. “Dad wanted his kids to be holy and happy,” Dustin says, “and that was enough for him.”

Dustin was a senior at Bearden High School in Knoxville when he was approached by the football coach, Bill Young. It was just two weeks before the first football game, and the coach asked him to fill in for the kicker, who had broken his ankle. “He said my dad would be proud,” Dustin says.

4th Down and Five To Go — Dustin ColquittHe agreed to give it a try, but needed some instruction from his father. Although Dustin is right-handed, he kicks with his left foot. When Dad started coaching him, Dustin also dropped the ball with his right hand, making the entire movement awkward. So to work on eye-hand coordination, Dad gave his son golf balls to juggle with his left hand and told him to brush his teeth using only his left hand. “My gums were bleeding, I was brushing so much with my left hand,” Dustin said in an interview with a New York Times reporter.

His next task was to dress out for practice. He had never put on a football uniform or helmet. His uniform was hanging on a locker, but he first had to fill the multiple pockets in the pants with pads. One of the players walked in as he was finishing dressing and started laughing. It seems that Dustin had inserted the pads facing the wrong way. Once the wrong was righted, Dustin looked at himself in the mirror. At 6-feet, 3-inches and 172 pounds, “I looked like an ostrich,” he says.

He hated the uniform until his mother told him she overheard a cute coed say he had “a great butt.”

Dustin’s mother, who was a dancer in her youth, was always cheering him on in an unusual way. Whenever he ran out on the field to kick, she was up in the bleachers kicking her foot high above her head.

2Dustin went to the University of Tennessee (UT) where he was a walk-on punter his freshmen year. He remembers one day punting the football during practice. With the first kick the football hit halfway up a telephone pole. With the next kick he shanked the football into a sand pit.

“I can’t believe those kicks came off the same foot,” said head football coach Philip Fulmer while heading his way.

Dustin was stunned that he was being watched by THE coach. “You’ve got a year to figure it out,” Fulmer said. “Practice every day like people have come out just to watch you.”

Fast forward to 2005. In March, Dustin got engaged to Christia Brinkley, who was attending UT on a full dance scholarship. The couple had met at a fraternity boxing tournament. He graduated in May and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Christia was accepted into Memphis Dental School the next fall. Dustin couldn’t stand the idea of them being apart so he moved up their wedding date to July. The newlyweds bought an apartment in Kansas City and shortly after, to Christia’s dismay, he left to go to River Falls, Wisconsin, for training camp.

Dustin says he has many blessings, and living in Kansas City for the last 10 years is one of them. “It’s been a huge blessing to stay with one team my whole career thus far.” Kansas City has become home. Dustin loves the vibe of the town. “It’s a hard-working, hard-playing town,” he says.

He and Christia now have five children. At first glance their names seem very unusual, but the couple put a lot of thought into each moniker. Brinkley, 8, was named after Dustin’s father-in-law. Colston, 6, was named after Marques Colston, a star wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. Hartley, 4, the only girl in the group, was named after a famous greenhouse maker in the United Kingdom. Daddy’s girl is a bit of a tomboy, Dustin says. “She’s got a great straight-arm hook,” he says, “but in the next moment she a girly-girl.” Number four is Kinsler, 3, who was named after Ian Kinsler, the star 2nd baseman for the Detroit Tigers. Coming in fifth is Cannon, which is the name Dustin’s parents originally wanted to name him.

The family lives in Leawood, Kansas, where the older children attend a Christian school. The two oldest boys are into soccer and baseball right now. All the kids are very active. “They keep you on your knees praying,” Dustin says. The family has dance parties in the kitchen almost every night. “They don’t dance like white kids,” he says.

4th Down and Five To Go — Dustin ColquittThroughout his career, Dustin has received several awards and accolades. When he was chosen to host the infamous HK’s Celebrity Golf Tournament at the Lake of the Ozarks, he was delighted. You see, Dustin’s heart is constantly working to help others. He loves kids and is dedicated to improving lives. And he’s a team player — punting when he was hurt and working through the pain. One award for which his teammates selected him was the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award. They cited that in 2008, Dustin had to have surgery to repair a game-related hernia. In 2009, he punted the entire season with a left shoulder injury requiring major off-season reconstruction. In addition to his courage on the field, Dustin started the Colquitt for Kids Foundation and is the spokesman for All-Pro Dad, an organization that strives to make men better fathers.

In 2006, Dustin was contacted by Dr. Bill Busch, a general dentist in North Kansas City. He had an idea and needed Dustin’s help, thus Team Smile was born. Once a year, on the Saturday before a home game, children needing dental care gather at Arrowhead Stadium. The team has a walk-through that morning that takes between 30 and 45 minutes. All the players are in their Chiefs uniforms. They come out and sit on dental chairs to greet the kids and sign autographs. About two dozen general and pediatric dentists clean the teeth of 400 to 600 kids. They also do crowns and extractions. It is estimated that $250,000 worth of dental services is performed that day. The children are given an appointment card for a 6-month follow-up, which is done free of charge.

“It’s a carnival atmosphere,” Dustin says. “There’s a deejay, cheerleaders and lots of activities.” And before each child leaves he or she is given a ticket to a home game. Dustin says sponsors such as Colgate, DEXIS and Henry Schein have really stepped up to make the event a success. This year Team Smile was included in the United Way budget. It took three years before another NFL team joined Team Smile, but as of last year 17 NFL cities have Team Smile events. Dustin says that number should rise to 21 next season.

4th Down and Five To Go — Dustin ColquittDecember 14, 2014, Dustin did something that sportscasters hailed as “breaking new ground.” The Chiefs were playing the Oakland Raiders, and he came on the field to punt from the Oakland 37 yard line. When he got the snap he stepped back as if he was going to fake the punt and throw instead, but then just as the opponents were readjusting for the throw, he quick-kicked the football 31 yards and it was downed on the 6-yard line. The Chiefs won 31–13.

There were a lot of twits and tweets about the play. Some scolded, others said he made the best out of a screw-up, while admirers said he was a genius. One fan wrote: “Indeed, but what should we expect, he’s a Tennessee Volunteer.”

Tradition is huge in the Colquitt clan, and attending UT has always been a given. Dustin once said in an interview that his father told him had he chosen another school, “You’re not welcome home at Christmas.” So it’s no secret that he wants all of his kids to go to UT to continue the family tradition. “Anywhere else would be tough to wear the colors,” he says.

The football coach at UT also wants the Colquitt reign to continue. When Dustin’s oldest son Brinkley was born, he received a communique. “Coach Fulmer gave us a letter asking Brinkley to come to the university in 2024 to punt.”

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