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Browns punter grateful that God saved him from grip of alcohol

RESCUED FROM DROWNING

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells of a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to rescue one who has strayed from the flock. The story’s point: “It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of (His) little ones should perish.”

Cleveland Browns punter Britton Colquitt knows just how true that is.

When Colquitt was in college at Tennessee, he was arrested and suspended from the football team multiple times for alcohol-related incidents. The worst was in February 2008, when Colquitt hit a parked car while driving under the influence, then fled the scene.

Then-Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer punished Colquitt for the incident by yanking his scholarship, suspending him for the first five games of his senior season, and requiring him to undergo alcohol counseling.

Although he grew up in a Christian home and embraced Christ around age 10 or 11, Colquitt was not immune to the temptations of the college party scene: “I got caught up in the drinking thing. Temptation put me off track.”

Fulmer, however, prevented Colquitt’s football future – and perhaps his future in general – from going off the rails entirely keeping him on Tennessee’s roster. “What I was seeing was an immature young man making childish decisions,” Fulmer said. “He was facing a real problem with alcohol, and I figured I could help him more if he was around the program than I could if he was off on his own.”

Fulmer recalled meeting in his office with Colquitt and his parents: Though Colquitt appeared to have a repentant heart, Fulmer needed to see Colquitt’s actions reflect it.

To Colquitt’s credit, they have: “I’d say he spends every day trying to make sure he’s proving it,” Fulmer said.

Perhaps due to his run-ins with the law, no NFL team drafted Colquitt after his college career ended. Still, the Denver Broncos took a chance on him in late 2009, signing him as a free agent.

His punting pedigree may have had something to do with that: Colquitt’s father Craig punted for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the late 1970s and early ’80s, and his older brother Dustin is entering his 13th season with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Colquitt rewarded Denver by averaging 45.1 yards per punt during his time there before joining Cleveland as a free agent last year. He also appeared in two Super Bowls for the Broncos, winning in 2016. Colquitt and his father now have three Super Bowl rings between them.

More importantly, Colquitt has stayed on the straight-and-narrow. The father of three – with another on the way – has even given up alcohol entirely: “My wife and I decided that it’s something that only distracts, so I made it something that’s not a part of my life. It doesn’t do anything for me.”

Because he is grateful to God for rescuing him from the grips of alcohol, Colquitt treats every punt as an act of worship: “God gave me the ability and the strength in my body. He orchestrated where I am in life.”