By Sean Wagner-McGough
(CBS SPORTS) – It’s rare for a rivalry between two NFL teams to intensify due to the actions of a punter, but that’s exactly what happened when Marquette King got cut by the Raiders and proceeded to sign with the Broncos. King’s decision to join the Raiders’ AFC West rivals isn’t sitting well with Bruce Irvin.
In the immediate aftermath of the signing, Irvin tweeted, “Y’all knew that’s where he wanted to b all along.” Then, on Tuesday, he revealed that he asked the Raiders to let him play on the punt-return team against the Broncos. He added that he got approval.
ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez reported on Tuesday that some of this has to do with what King did at the 2017 Pro Bowl:
It was there where King posed for a picture with Aqib Talib, re-enacting Talib snatching Michael Crabtree’s gold chain during the 2016 season. (Talib did it again in 2017, starting a Broncos-Raiders brawl that resulted in one-game suspensions for both players.)
King posted the picture on social media and it raised hackles in the Raiders locker room. King deleted the photo upon the request of a high-profile teammate, but screen shots are forever.
The Raiders-Broncos rivalry didn’t need an added boost, but we should all be thankful that it got one anyway. Funnily enough, King used to embrace the Raiders’ side in it all, evidenced by the video below.
Now, he’s on the other side of it all, even going so far as to retire his celebration that once trolled the Broncos.
It’s worth noting that King shouldn’t be blamed for switching sides. After all, it was the Raiders — not King — who shockingly decided to end their relationship. Nobody should fault King for signing with the Broncos, who reside in a “punter’s paradise.” Nobody should fault the Broncos for pursuing a punter who ranked third in net punting average a year ago. If the Raiders didn’t want him to go to Denver to strengthen the Broncos’ special teams, they probably shouldn’t have cut him.
Then again, it certainly seems like King might’ve rubbed some of his former teammates the wrong way. Take it from former Raiders special teams player Cordarrelle Patterson, who got shipped to New England in a trade last month as Jon Gruden continues to reshape Oakland’s roster.
“People didn’t like him, dude,” Patterson told NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” on Wednesday. “He was kind of like a diva, but he wasn’t. He wouldn’t show it that much. He was just crazy, man. He had fun though. I respect him as a person, but he just did things a little different.”
The key word there is fun. From his celebrations to his Instagram to his booming leg, King is fun. King joining the Raiders’ rival is fun. The Raiders getting worked up about King signing with the Broncos is fun. Hopefully, when King punts against the Raiders in the future, it’ll be fun — something that is more likely to come true if Irvin takes the field when King is punting.