"The King is here." Marquette King said first thing as he got on the call just after signing a reported 5-year $16.5 million contract extension with the Raiders.
Confidence has never been something that is lacking with King. When he speaks, you hear and see a man who exudes effortless swagger. And never in a brash, outspoken way, but rather a good natured manner. As he would say, he's always 'turnt'.
But don't let his confidence fool you. The former college wide-receiver-turned-punter out of Fort Valley State knew right from the start the kind of work ethic it would take to get to the place he's in now.
"I don't think I was thinking this far ahead.," King said of his early days in the NFL. "Then I was taking it day by day, one step at a time. Everything happens so fast. I didn't want to miss anything. Just do everything I needed to do for that day and when the next day comes, think about that. I didn't really think about the future that much."
His daily grind brought him from undrafted and stashed on injured reserve, to taking over as the Raiders punter, replacing Shane Lechler -- one of the most decorated punters in league history. Big shoes to fill and a long road for a guy who was a raw prospect with a big leg.
"When I first came in, the only thing I did have was a driver," King said. "Even when I played golf, all I wanted to do was drive the ball as far as I can. But when I got better with the punting deal, I focused on punting the ball into the trash can. Put the trash can in the corners of the field and just aim trying to put the ball in the trash can. Doing drills like that, walking around the field dropping the ball on the lines, but doing it to the point where I just got exhausted, got tired. Aggravated from doing so many drills to where it became second nature and now I still got a long way to go. But still aiming for the trash cans in the corner of the field, of aiming for the offense and defensive line when they try to take away the other side of the field that I'm on. That's how I got better."
And he certainly got better. To the point where last season he was second in the league in punts inside the 20-yard-line (40). He has earned his contract. He even entered the franchise tag discussion. A discussion he said he didn't bother with.
"When it came to the franchise tag, I didn't really look into all that," he said. "I think what I was focused on was just doing these offseason workouts I've been doing. Just getting my body on point. I usually let my agent handle all that and I tell him 'whatever news comes up, like whatever's final, then come back with that and let me know'."
"I was pretty confident. I had a feeling everything was going to work out. I don't usually stress about much."
Yes, there's that word again; confident. You can add another word, too; consistent
"Honestly I feel like I felt a couple hours ago [before signing the contract]." King added. "Nothing really feels different. The thing that keeps me grounded is my parents, my mom, dad, grandma, my little sister. They're usually humble about everything. And they're not going to hit flips just because I signed a contract. They're the people that keep me calm. It's like ‘you signed your contract, congratulations. Celebrate a little bit but realize that you gotta do what you gotta do to maintain your job still'. That's the type of people I got in my circle."
That's a pretty good inner circle to have. And for an organization that has the only ever pure punter in the Hall of Fame in Ray Guy as well as the greatest statistical punter in NFL history in Shane Lechler, they have clearly struck gold once again.
"The King is here" indeed. And he will be here for a long time to come. Raiders fans should be excited about that. As only Raiders fans can truly understand the excitement of having a great punter.