For years, people considered the Oakland Raiders as one of the NFL’s whipping boys for nearly two decades. While they haven’t always been bottom-of-the-barrel bad, it’s just been the thing to do for most media personalities. Coach Jon Gruden is looking to give the franchise a facelift, and that means weeding out some bad seeds. That also means, keeping away those that have already burned their bridge.
Reports of Gruden souring on former Raiders punter Marquette King during the 2018 offseason ultimately resulted in King’s release. Despite excelling for five seasons for the Raiders with his leg, his mouth, and antics quickly rubbed people the wrong way.
The heir to legendary Raiders punter Shane Lechler, King came into his own in 2013, averaging nearly 49 yards per punt. From 2013-2017, those numbers stayed consistent, and King began to become more of a household name. In 2014, he was named the NFL Punting Yards Leader, kicking for nearly 5000 yards. The numbers stayed consistent between 2013-2017, but King consistently became more of a nuisance.
A punter gaining recognition for antics is far from ideal, especially when it starts to result in penalties. Things came to a head in 2017 when former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio called him out for his antics to the media. In addition to the penalties, King featured several outbursts and attention-seeking comments on social media.
The final straw for many Raiders fans centered on King’s actions at the Pro Bowl in 2017. A fight between former Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and former Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree resulted in Talib ripping Crabtree’s chain. King proceeded to mock the event at the Pro Bowl, with Talib pretending to snatch his chain. The gesture did not go over well with fans or players, as former Raiders DE Bruce Irvin publicly called out King for being disloyal.
Despite his play, the Raiders released him in March of 2018, despite playing never missing a game after taking over for Lechler.
Many like to look at it as Gruden washing his hands with King over the snub that apparently occurred when King and Gruden met, but it is about the principle. Gruden received a 10-year contract and the keys to a franchise since his trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
You cannot possibly think you will build a winner from scratch when the most volatile person on your team is a punter. It is not about demeaning the position; it is about establishing the type of team you want to build.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and now that King was released from the Broncos in 2018 after injury and is still a free agent, many believe he’s become organized. But the fact of the matter is, if the Raiders were going to do it, they would’ve done it. Punter Johnny Townsend was by far one of the worst punters in the league last year. Instead of reaching out to King, they brought in several punters to compete in camp. Gruden brought in punters that they don’t have to worry about trying to be the centerpiece instead of doing their job.
Marquette King has been nothing but productive when healthy, and his story of making it from a small school is admirable. It does not take away from the fact that he is a bit too egotistical for his britches.