Estonia’s Margus Hunt continues career with Indianapolis Colts

Defensive end Margus Hunt from Estonia signed with the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year after four years with the Cincinnati Bengals and seems to have found his own.

While not starting for the Colts, he has earned a spot in the six man defensive line rotation and is seeing good playing time. So far in Indianapolis’s two games (both losses), he has recorded three tackles and a sack.

The 6’8″, 280lb Hunt, who was drafted by Cincinnati in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, had an up and down career with the Bengals.

Nevertheless, his physical gifts make it hard for  teams to pass up on him. This freak of nature who runs a 4.6 40 yard dash with a 36″ vertical jump and whose NFL combine numbers were off the charts, had never heard of football let alone played it until he was 22 years old. He started his career as a track and field athlete at Southern Methodist University in Texas where his prowess in the weight room attracted the attention of the football coaches.

He went on to star for SMU and caught the eye of the Bengals.

Football an unknown sport in Estonia

This tiny European nation on the Baltic Sea produces track and field athletes. The most popular sports are soccer and basketball. American football is almost unheard of in Estonia. Although there is a league now – the Baltic Sea League – among the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, it did not exist when Margus Hunt,  a world-class shot putter and hammer and discus thrower (he held a number of junior world records), was headed to Southern Methodist University in 2007 on his own dime to train with SMU’s renowned track and field coach Dave Wollman.

The rest as they say, is history.

Recently, IndyStar Colts Insider reporter Stephen Holder spoke with Hunt.

Stephen Holder: You were born and raised in Estonia. I’m wondering: How familiar are people there with the NFL?

Margus Hunt: I don’t think the general population knows, but there are some big, big fans over there who are interested in the league and follow it pretty closely. So, there’s definitely a few. And there are actually a few people in my friendship circle who I grew up with that have a club team going.

Holder: Do you think you playing in the league had anything to do with that?

Hunt: Not really. I don’t know how it started, but it came around the same time I started playing college football. It wasn’t me.

Holder: What is the most popular sport back home?

Hunt: Track and field.

Holder: Really? Why is that?

Hunt: It’s just something that’s big in the school system there. (Physical education) is a big part of the school system there, and track and field is a big part of that. We also have a pretty big track and field history that goes back many decades. (Hunt was an accomplished athlete in the hammer throw, discus and shot put.)

Holder: You come from a pretty small town (Karksi-Nuia). What is it like there?

Hunt: It’s small. When we were growing up as kids, there were really no boundaries. We just hung out all day, every day, just being kids. We knew every single part of that town. And if you were caught doing something, everybody knew who you were and who your mom was. So, everybody was kept in check because of that. It was great. I had a great childhood there.

Holder: How often do you get back?

Hunt: I try to go at least once a year.

Holder: And when you do go home, what’s the first thing on your agenda?

Hunt: Well, I have to go see my mom and I visit my sister and brother-in-law at their house. We all have some great meals together.

Holder: And what is your mom’s go-to home-cooked meal?

Hunt: It’s basically what we would call chicken fried chicken.

Holder: Chicken is universal, right?

Hunt: Exactly. That’s exactly what it is.

Holder: You made a decision to come to the U.S. at an early age (to pursue track and field). How hard was that decision?

Hunt: It wasn’t hard at all. It was easy, actually. Once I figured out a way for me to be able to come here and attend college at SMU, it was really just a matter of packing and leaving. It was just the time in my life where I needed to get out and really explore other opportunities for myself. Estonia is such a small country (1.3 million residents) that it’s very suffocating. I needed room to (grow) and I just decided it was time to go. It was pretty easy.


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