7 entries
  • "As a former 'Cane myself, I had to good fortune to meet..."
    - Rob Rothstein
  • "Rick was always a great friend to everyone, he was the most..."
    - Laura R
  • "Jennifer, I have been praying everyday for you since i..."
  • "Rick's hard work to become a great punter was seen every..."
  • "My sweet 6th grader at Osceola in 1977. He was a great..."
    - Sarabeth Stribling
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Former All-Pro NFL punter Rick Tuten died unexpectedly on June 13, 2017, while vacationing with his wife in Costa Rica. He was 52. Born Richard Lamar Tuten on Jan. 5, 1965, in Perry, Florida, Rick was a beloved father, son and husband. He worked as a boat captain in Crystal River and was an accomplished outdoorsman, enjoying hunting and fishing whenever he could.
Rick was best known for his success on the football field. He was a winner at every level, starting out as a star quarterback and punter for Forest High School in the late 1970s and early '80s. He went on to star as the punter on the 1983 University of Miami national championship team before transferring to Florida State, where he finished his college career under legendary coach Bobby Bowden. Signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1989, Rick went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL with the Eagles, the Buffalo Bills, the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams. He spent the bulk of his playing career with the Seahawks, where he was named All-Pro in 1994 and became a favorite of the fans, who affectionately dubbed him 'Bootin' Tuten.' He led the league in punting yards in 1992 and '93, and kicked for a league-leading 45.0 yards per punt in 1995. Rick also won a Super Bowl ring with the Rams in 1999, his final season as a pro.
Upon retirement from football, Rick returned to his hometown of Ocala, where he shared his skills and knowledge with a generation of youth. He was a championship-winning coach for Marion County Pop Warner Raiders and served as a mentor to numerous young punters and kickers in the community. He was a generous and giving role model and loved working with young people.
A memorial service was held for Rick shortly after his passing in Ocala, which was attended by hundreds of friends, family and well-wishers.
But Rick's proudest and most joyful role in life was being a father. Rick is survived by his wife of 10 years, Jennifer; two daughters, Kinley Tuten of Tallahassee and Ryan Tuten of Ocala; a son, Chase Tuten of Chicago; a stepson, Tyler Riley of Ocala; a stepdaughter, Ashlyne of Gainesville; an uncle and aunt, Lee and Ann Kinard of Lynn Haven, Florida; and an aunt, Hazel Sheffield of Greenville, Florida. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lamar and Jean Tuten.
A scholarship fund has been set up at Harbor Community Bank in honor of Rick. The Rick Tuten Scholarship will be awarded annually to the top punter in Marion County.
Published in Ocala Star-Banner from July 23 to July 24, 2017