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Oakland Raiders player Marquette King holds a unique distinction in the NFL. He is league’s lone Black punter, and just the fifth Black player in a position typically reserved for smaller white players.

King, born October 26. 1988 in Macon, Ga., discovered a love for football as a teenager. Although he originally wanted to play the more glamorous position of receiver, King discovered early on that he had a knack for punting the ball for long distances. After finally making his high school’s squad in his junior year, King struggled to get playing time.

As a student and player at Fort Valley State University, a Division II HBCU 30 miles from his hometown, King once again found himself on the bench. In order to keep his scholarship, he was forced to move to punter and flourished in the position. Unlike other punters, King was athletic and solidly built so he was an anomaly to opponents.

The Raiders signed King undrafted out of college after he wowed NFL scouts due to his showing at the Kohl’s National Elite kicking challenge in Wisconsin. He didn’t play in his first season due to injuries, but he each year he has improved his numbers.

In NFL camps, other Black players naturally assumed that King lining up behind the special teams corps meant that a trick play was coming, only to see one of his kicks soaring over their heads. In a recent interview, King realizes how rare his status is and takes pride in being one of the best in his field.

The Raiders also recognized King’s abilities and rewarded the player with a five-year, $16.5 million contract extension this past Monday.

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