When former NFL All-Pro punter Marquette King would blast one of his signature booming kicks, one question came to mind for the millions of fans watching at home: "What is he going to do next?"
It's not a question that punters hear often.
Punting has never been a sexy position in football. Punters appear only a handful of times per game and when they do, they are largely absent from the breakneck plays and ferocious hits that make the NFL so popular.
Once the pigskin leaves the foot, the camera pans as it follows the ball's flight through the air, leaving its launcher to fade into the rearview. But King forced it to refocus with his signature celebratory post-punt dances, which made punting exciting.
During his six years with the Oakland Raiders from 2012 to 2017, King played at an extremely high level. In 2013 he averaged 48.9 yards per punt, just two-and-a-half yards shy of Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh's all-time record of 51.4. He led the league in the category that year before doing it again in 2014. But despite his on-field success, King was released due to "personality concerns" from Oakland's coaching staff.
It was King's personality, however, that made him such a magnetic player—and a fan-favorite among the Raider faithful. Rising from undrafted Fort Valley State product to league-leading NFL punter, his exuberance on the field was unmatched at his position, rivaled only by offensive players who get the chance to celebrate epic touchdowns. And it's clear now what was going on inside his head at the time.
Now a free agent, King's passion for EDM has bubbled to the surface after years of simmering in the wrong vocation. He's now a budding dance music artist, balancing his dreams as a DJ with a vigorous campaign to make it back to the NFL.
King spoke with EDM.com about how he became enamored with the electronic music community, his bouts with depression, and the road ahead.
EDM.com: How does an All-Pro NFL punter first get into electronic music? When did it happen and what or who first inspired you?
Marquette King: Back in 2012 when I first got picked up by the Raiders, I got introduced to EDM in a limousine headed to San Francisco. When I heard the music riding into the city on the Bay Bridge. The music was a vibe, it gave this party-happy vibe.
The artist was Calvin Harris, his 18 Months album—I’ll never forget it. It was in 2012 when I first went to Oakland. The person that inspired me, who I want to meet and work with one day, is Calvin Harris. He’s my all-time favorite producer and singer.
EDM.com: How did you go about juggling music production with your rigorous NFL schedule?
Marquette King: As a punter in the NFL, we have a lot of time on our hands. So when offense and defense are in position meetings, I would get on my laptop and make beats. Then on top of that, we would get home around 2:30, 3PM everyday and I would work on music even more.
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EDM.com: Where does your music career fit in with your professional football career?
Marquette King: When I’m on the field, I'm 100% dialed in and working on being the best me I can be at the punting position. Sometimes while I’m out on the field—since punters and kickers are by themselves—I start thinking about lyrics.
Sometimes, when we have long practice days, I’ll be on the field working on drops by myself on a different field. I’ll put AirPods underneath my helmet so no one can see and listen to my beats that I worked on earlier that day.
EDM.com: You recently tweeted about depression, saying it "comes from that perception is reality thing." Can you talk about your experiences with anxiety and depression?
With anxiety, I used to have really bad anxiety attacks where I could barely drive home after games. I think it came from me always trying to be perfect. But then one day I stopped trying to be a perfectionist and focused on working hard during the week. Therefore when game day arrived everything was automatic. That’s how I overcame anxiety.
Depression hit me when I went to the Broncos in 2018, when I was told to switch my kicking technique that worked in my favor for years. It became embarrassing and I felt like I was letting the team down by not kicking to your full potential. Then it became overwhelming and I started to lose my love for the game at that moment.
For the next year, I was down—especially after I didn’t get picked up—but I started to turn a corner when I began focusing on my music and happiness more than ever. My cousin Greg Rhymes also played a huge role in helping me overcome depression. The more I started pouring positivity and encouragement into others, and preaching to people to be themselves and be authentic to who they are, like karma it came back to me.
Also, so many people are not themselves, and put on a front to be seen a certain way on social media and in front of other people. This also can affect someone's mental health as well, whether they believe it or not.
EDM.com: Were there moments during your time with the Raiders or Broncos where your mental health was tested? Did music help?
Marquette King: My mental health was definitely tested in Denver, but music became a major relief when I would write my songs about how I felt. It was a huge outlet for me and that’s where I met Annabelle.
EDM.com: Do you find music or football to be more rewarding?
Marquette King: I find both rewarding, to be honest, but in different ways. The most rewarding feeling about music is you can create it from scratch and all the random sounds turn into one whole creative track. The appreciation that you get when fans sing and enjoy songs that you make is truly amazing because it comes from the heart.
Football was already created and I’m just a part of it, but the rewarding feeling comes from being the best at what you do. Also, working really hard and seeing your results on game day is a good feeling when the results turn out the way you intended.