Sunday Night, in front of the Raiders biggest audience since perhaps their 2002 Super Bowl appearance, fourth year punter Marquette King became an overnight success.
He showed this national TV audience — who tuned in to see one of the year’s best games between the upstart 6-2 Raiders and defending Super Bowl champion 6-2 Broncos for sole possession of first place in the AFC West — just what he was about.
On two-straight punts to begin the third quarter, he pinned the Broncos at the 2-yard-line, thanks in part to Andre “on the spot” Holmes downing it just outside the goal line.
After those two punts, the cameras trained on King for his reaction and he showed off his dance moves in celebration that made him an instant media darling.
First it was ‘rode the pony’, which was fitting due to the Raiders facing the Broncos. The GIF’s and vine videos immediately poured across social media as everyone else saw the kind of character Raiders fans had become accustomed to over the past four seasons.
“Just riding a Bronco and having a little fun,” said King. “I don’t do it to taunt, I just do it out of fun. Everybody is having fun. Everybody is picking things up. It is a huge family and that is something I’ve noticed since I came in 2012. It has been pretty cool.”
His second punt was also downed at the two, and the cameras went back to him to see what he did for an encore. This time, he went with Von Miller’s sack dance which he says he got tired of seeing in Madden video game commercials.
“I just got tired of watching his dance moves on Madden,” said King. “I’m sitting there trying to watch Spongebob and they show the Madden and see him doing this right here (does dance move) and I’m like ‘alright’ I can’t wait until we play them. I’m gonna try it.”
That dance also took off on social media.
I suggested he check his phone to see if he’s gotten a call from Dancing With the Stars. He claimed to not have enough rhythm for that. The tape suggests otherwise.
In case you were wondering, there’s no bad blood between King and Miller over the stunt. The two spoke on the field after the game and Miller was cool with it.
Raiders fans have long had a fondness for their one-of-a-kind punter. They’ve known he was eccentric with his ‘turnt’ energy and his affinity for superhero culture. An attitude he brings to the field with him every play. But one he is only able to pull off due to his work ethic and performance on the field.
“I’m kinda like Ironman,” said King. “You know how Ironman is serious but he jokes around at the same time? You gotta have fun. I gotta have fun. Because as soon as I start feeling like I’m just gonna dominate, it’s just not gonna work out the way I want it to.”
What this attitude creates is a bit of fun in a league that is increasingly uptight and boring. Where flags are thrown at the smallest celebration from players.
Some believe the league cracking down on the fun parts of the game is a major reason their ratings are down so severely this season. If that’s the case then King should be a breath of fresh air.
“Yeah. Got to, man,” King said of taking pride in having fun. “Since I’ve been punting and since I’ve watched punters, people are like ‘punters are boring or kickers are boring’ and stuff. All this just coming from a receiver watching other people celebrate like ‘alright, you know what? I’m fittin’ to celebrate when I make a play. I’m fittin’ to have fun.’ Because I’m not fittin’ to just punt the ball and just walk off. Why not? I don’t want to get old and be like ‘I should’ve had fun like this. I should’ve had fun when I was younger.’ When I get old, I want to be to the point where I’m happy with what I did. No regrets.”
Well, NFL, you’ve now been formally introduced to Marquette King. A man who deserved the attention for his actual punting skills – he’s top five in several categories this season including punt yards, punt average, downed punts, and punts inside the 20 – but whose personality really sets him apart.