On Sunday, punter Dustin Colquitt will play in his 225th regular-season game as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Drafted by the team in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Colquitt, 37, has already played in more games for a single team than any other punter in NFL history. But after Sunday, he will have played in more games than any other player in Chiefs history — surpassing the record of 224 games set by Hall of Fame guard Will Shields, who retired after the 2006 season.
Now in his 15th season with the team, Colquitt has been around long enough to have been one of Shields’ teammates.
“It’s exciting that I got to sit across the locker room from 68 — Will Shields — for two seasons and got to pick his brain and see how he worked,” Colquitt told the press on Wednesday. “For us to be tied right now, it’s exciting for my family and me. It’s cool that I can share this with him. I remember asking for his jersey in 2005 and he goes, ‘I don’t do jerseys until I’m done — that’s bad luck,’ and sure enough, as soon as he retired, he showed up and gave me his jersey — signed and everything — and I have it in my basement. I remember I didn’t have to ask again, either; he’s that kind of guy.”
Colquitt comes from a distinguished family of NFL punters. His younger brother Britton — now beginning his 10 NFL season as the punter for the Minnesota Vikings — learned their kicking chops from their father Craig, who punted in the NFL for seven seasons, winning championships with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978 and 1979.
But the family business started with Craig’s father, Lester, who was an all-state high school punter in Knoxville, Tennessee. Good enough to be offered a scholarship from the University of Alabama, Lester instead entered the military and became a policeman after leaving the service.
“They would say he used to come home with his big old cop motorcycle boots and he’d punt the ball,” Britton said of his grandfather Lester during a 2017 Fox Sports interview. “It would literally go the entire block. Kids were just terrified (to catch it) when the ball would come down. They would dive out of the way.”
Lester’s influence on Dustin is still part of his pregame routine, when he listens to the music of Jimmy Buffett.
”There was always a thing growing up,” he explained on Wednesday. “I was playing soccer — anything but football — so my grandfather was always like, ‘You need to be the son of a son of a punter.’ So Son of a Son of A Sailor was always big for me.”
Colquitt said the music helps calm his pregame nerves — but also that it has taught him a lesson.
“I think [Buffet’s] music kind of resonated — that sometimes you do have to roll with the punches — and adversity is something you can use to propel yourself and to try to make you better. All of those years have kind of gotten me to that point — and kind of prepared [me] to do what I’m doing right now.”
There has been plenty of adversity in Colquitt’s Chiefs career — including two 2-14 seasons and another pair of 4-12 seasons. But he said that with Andy Reid running the team, those kinds of seasons are a thing of the past.
“That doesn’t happen when people like Andy Reid take over and do that stuff; we were so lucky to get him since 2013.”
And watching Reid’s offense with Patrick Mahomes has been a lot of fun for Colquitt to watch.
“You can’t get too caught up in it because then you’re running 90 yards to the hold because you don’t know when he’s going to strike,” he said. “With the recent influx of 17 (Mecole Hardman) in there now, we just have these guys that are playing ball and executing. It’s Andy Reid’s mind coming alive on the gridiron, so it’s really fun to watch.”
But Colquitt said that even in the bad years, he learned from many of the hundreds of players who have worn the red and gold.
”I think Will [Shields] is big, but then you have Eddie Kennison, Tony Gonzalez — I remember riding on planes with him and he would downright tell you, ‘Don’t eat that steak. You need that fish. It’s going to make you better. If your body’s at a maximum level, then you’re going to play better.’ So that was big for me. When I came in, Lawrence Tynes and Kendall Gammon were here. He had 13 years of experience. I got to kind of pick his brain. There are a lot of guys that have come here. John Carney was here briefly. I got to really work on my holding there. I asked every question... he played 20-something years in the league. So I’ve just had a great influence [from] those guys.”
With Mahomes leading the offense, Colquitt said he has to endure more punchlines about how little he gets to punt — but it also said it makes each one more important.
“Every kick, hold, snap, punt — everything is more under the microscope and more important — and more kind of going to affect the game.”
For Colquitt, that means his goal as a punter is always to be the defense’s right hand — or in his case, its left foot.
“They want to take that long diagonal toward the goal line. I know that. I want to the defensive coordinator’s best friend. Me and Spags — I want him to be like, ‘I love the punter.’ I want him to say that a lot. So I just focus on that stuff — what’s going to put our team in the best situation on game day.”
Colquitt didn’t mention how often defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo actually says he loves the punter, but special teams coordinator wasn’t shy about saying so when he spoke to the press on Thursday.
“[Colquitt’s] just so consistent,” he said. “He’s such a leader for our football team. No matter who we bring in kicker-wise, he’s a kicker whisperer. I mean, he’s great — he’s a great holder. probably the best holder I’ve ever had — and I’ve had some good ones; Brad Maynard was really good at Chicago. He’s a student of the game. He’s just a great person to be around — a good family man — and a great teammate. A really, really good player. He wouldn’t be lasting this long if he wasn’t that good.”
And by mid-afternoon Sunday, Colquitt will have lasted longer than any other Chiefs player.