JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Big legs run in Britton Colquitt’s family, although maybe not in the usual sense.
Colquitt is the punter for the AFC champion Denver Broncos. His father, Craig, punted for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brother Dustin punts for the Kansas City Chiefs. And his uncle, Jimmy, briefly punted for the Seattle Seahawks in 1985.
So, the obvious question: Nature or nurture?
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Britton Colquitt said. “It’s somehow in the blood. But (it’s also believing punting is) the family business. My uncle Jimmy — when he was younger and my dad was punting at the University of Tennessee — he looked up at my dad and said, ‘Hey, I want to do what you’re doing, so teach me.’ And then Jimmy did it.
“And then we played soccer and other sports, but when it came time for high school and kicking, my dad was there to teach us, and we saw an opportunity to go to college and possibly make a living.”
Like his father, Colquitt punted at Tennessee. He signed with Denver as a free agent in 2009 but was waived by the Broncos and then Miami before returning to Denver in 2010. He has held the job ever since and is the franchise leader in gross (45.8) and net (39.3) punting average.
The net average is what he considers a punter’s top priority.
“The change of field position, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you kick it 60 yards, if they return it to the house, or 40 yards, you only netted 20.
“The biggest thing is to help your offense out. When they can’t move the ball, you want to move the ball down field and put your defense in good position.”
Colquitt hasn’t had much chance to do that in this postseason. The Broncos didn’t punt in their playoff opener against the San Diego Chargers, and they punted once in their AFC Championship Game win over the New England Patriots.
“It’s a good thing when your team’s good on offense; that means you’re winning,” Colquitt said. “I’m cool with that.”
Those two wins put the Broncos into Super Bowl XLVIII, where they will meet the Seattle Seahawks.
A Denver win Sunday would make Craig and Britton Colquitt the fourth set of father-son Super Bowl winners, as Craig won two with the Steelers.
“The fact that he played in the NFL and won Super Bowl rings is a big part of the reason I’m here and my brother’s in the NFL,” Colquitt said. “Just to see that growing up — to see all the pictures of the Steel Curtain and Terry Bradshaw and all those Super Bowl teams — just kind of gives you a belief that it’s normal to play in the NFL. And it’s really not. ... It’s truly an honor to think of how many father-sons have made it to the NFL, and then how few have even made it to the Super Bowl and how few have won it past that. ... That would be really sweet.”