It is not a position that often comes to mind first when thinking about the 53-man roster of an NFL team, but the Kansas City Chiefs have had a staple at punter over the last decade-plus.
Their punter’s name is Dustin Colquitt, and at the age of 36, he still is one of the best in the league to do it. Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub spoke about how he wouldn’t rule out the Pro Football Hall of Fame when asked about Colquitt earlier this season.
But for everything Colquitt does for the Chiefs and Kansas City on the football field, he is just as important to the community off, and that is why the Chiefs nominated him for one of the league’s most prestigious awards—the Walter Payton Man of the Year.
“When they told me about it, obviously you are elated,” Colquitt said. “I remember coming into Kansas City in 2005 and reading the contract thinking obviously you have to have an agent to go through all of this. But it was very apparent that (the Chiefs) want you in the community at least five times a year. And you don’t even realize ‘till you get into the community and you feel like that isn’t even enough for here because there was so much good that goes on. I love this city. Upon hearing that, you kind of get humbled. I know there are 32 of these guys, but all 32 of these guys are saying, ‘Wow, Walter Payton. What did he do? How did he embody a city and how did he change things?’ It wasn’t just between the white lines. It was in the communities and changing people’s mind frames and how they think and how they love and care for each other in the community.”
Colquitt’s main initiative is called Team Smile, an organization that has served 40,000 children with than $18 million in complimentary dental and preventative care services and education since 2007.
The thought behind the initiative is that by helping children with complimentary dental work, Colquitt can instill confidence in them and change their life for the better.
Past nominees for the Chiefs include Tamba Hali, Alex Smith and Derrick Johnson.
“I had watched Alex Smith and Derrick Johnson,” Colquitt said. “We walk by those guys that have won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award every day from our meetings. Everybody knows that. When you see those guys and you take time to look at the pictures of Lamar (Hunt) and Clark (Hunt) in the background, this has been a historical thing for their organization to be proud of. I was just proud. We do it because it is our community. [The fans] get up here every Sunday, Monday or Thursday night and they kill it for us, they love it. They cook their barbecue, they take their time with that. On top of that, they want to watch good football. It is just a fantastic place and being able to serve them in that capacity off the field and spend where there is true need in the city, it is great.”
Upon hearing of the announcement on Thursday morning, former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee chimed in via social media.
Colquitt is the only punter nominated this season, and he said that bringing home the award at the position would make it all the more sweet.
“[McAfee’s] classic thing is kind of, ‘For The Brand,’” Colquitt explained. “That’s true. He has come up with a great idea around, ‘Punters are people, too.’ It’s a play off of Rich Eisen, and ‘For the Brand.’ I know where that comes from because when you’re in high school and you’re dealing with seven kickers on the team, there’s definitely a stigma about it. I think it would be great. I’m not even sure if a punter has won it ... I think it would be cool for our position and I’m going to definitely do it for them.
“I’m going to have that ‘For The Brand’ shirt on for sure. There’s no doubt.”
There is a fan aspect to the NFL Man of the Year Award. Here is how to help Colquitt out, per the NFL: Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwideâs fourth annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote by using #WPMOYChallenge on Twitter with their favorite nominee’s last name somewhere in the post between Dec. 6 and Jan. 13. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.