PUNTERS AREN'T WIMPS - Injury ends NFL player's game, toughens him for Marines
By Lance Cpl. Edward R. Guevara Jr.
| | August 28, 2003
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
From a field of dreams to field training exercises, making the transition from a professional punter in the National Football League to a professional Marine in the United States Marine Corps brings a rewarding change of lifestyle to one new Marine.
A Chino, Calif. native, PFC Christopher H. Gutierrez, Platoon 2093, Company G, loved playing football in high school, as well as in college at the University of Minnesota, before attempting to make it his professional career.
The 28-year-old was a seaman in the Coast Guard when he was getting pressure from his college coaches to take a shot at the NFL.
"I kept getting calls from my coaches telling me to pursue the NFL," said Gutierrez. "So I tried out and succeeded."
Gutierrez made his way into the Atlanta Falcons franchise where he played four preseason games before injuring himself while trying to tackle someone during the third quarter of that last game.
"Someone tackled his planter leg," said Kelli M. Gutierrez, his wife.
The planter leg is the opposite leg the player kicks with that allows them to stay stable.
"I was one game shy of a full contract," said Gutierrez. With this disappointment hanging over his head, he had a hard time finding another career to pursue.
"I will never forget that flight home," Gutierrez said. "It seemed like everything I had worked for as a kid was gone."
In an attempt to move on, Gutierrez worked for a pipeline company and a financial planning company before making his decision to reach for the eagle, globe, and anchor.
He wanted a career with stability that he could support a family with, and at the same time to have a respectable career, according to Gutierrez.
Gutierrez left for recruit training, with his wife backing him up 100 percent.
"I helped him fill out his paperwork and give him full emotional support," said Kelly.
His wife has been a positive inspiration to him while facing the obstacles of recruit training, according to Gutierrez.
One of the hardest obstacles for Gutierrez was the Grim Reaper. The 9-mile hike at the end of the Crucible, combined with limited food and sleep, took its toll on him.
"My blood sugar dropped and I almost couldn't stand. I gave way completely in the chow line at the Warrior's Breakfast," Gutierrez said. "The company first sergeant was trying to put anything with sugar down my throat."
While some physical aspects of training affected him and others didn't, the mental aspects were hard to ignore.
"The mental aspects were harder than expected," said Gutierrez. "After receiving, you realize you are here to do a job and accomplish something."
"My wife got me going in the right direction," Gutierrez said. "Now she has me on the right track to develop a career."
He plans on making the Marine Corps a rewarding career and becoming an officer after completing his sociology degree.
"I'm excited about being a Marine," said Gutierrez.
Gutierrez hopes to get stationed on the east coast and settle down with his wife and daughter.