Marquette King Shares How His Mental Health Is After Leaving the NFL“I feel like I've been lied to my whole life…”
Despite being a star punter for the NFL’s (formerly Oakland) Raiders and having a brief stint with the Denver Broncos, Marquette King’s NFL career was cut short in 2018 after suffering a thigh injury and weathering internal strife within the league. In 2022, King tweeted that he’s “not fighting to get in a league that ignores the resume I’ve created that’s better than over half of the punters in the NFL.”
These days, it’s the UFL (a professional football league co-owned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) that has his attention. With the Arlington Renegades, who won the 2023 championship, King is now preparing for the 2024 season, which kicks off in March.
Off the field, King says he’s all about having a good time, focusing on himself, and releasing new music. This January, he released, “I Can Kick a Ball,” which highlights his athleticism. And his mixed genre KS107 album, inspired by his love of Grand Theft Auto Vice City’s soundtrack, is on the way, he tells Wondermind.
Here, King sits down for a mental health check-in and shares how he dealt with leaving the NFL, the importance of social media breaks, and the advice he’d share with fans.
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WM: How are you doing lately?
Marquette King: I'm doing really good. I'm in a really good place right now in life, just taking the punches as they go, whatever direction, whatever goes on. I just control whatever I can control from my point of view. I just try to find the positive in most of the stuff I do.
WM: What’s invigorating you right now?
MK: I got to start back training again, getting ready for the XFL season. Other than that, though, nothing really. I feel like life is so simple, and a lot of people like to make it so complicated. So, I just focus on things that make me happy, and I got my music, I got the sports, I got the jewelry. So just doing all that.
WM: It seems like you have a lot of creative outlets. Do you think that helps manage your mental health?
MK: A hundred percent. It helps because I just like being creative, and sometimes I give out [things] that I make. If I just feel it upon myself to give somebody a treat or a gift, I just do it.
WM: That's a nice way to connect with other people. How else do you take care of your mental health on a regular basis?
MK: I do take my time to stay away from social media. I think that's one of the main parts too, because social media has definitely turned into a job. But I don't know, I was just always knowing who I was. I've had challenges and stuff in my life, but I think the most important part is just knowing who you are as a person. I know who I am. I know what makes me happy. I try to stay on that trail that keeps me consistently thinking like that.
WM: What would you say are some of your personal values?
MK: I feel like treating people right, treating people nice. My main goal is to just put a smile on people's faces, so anything I can do to make somebody's day better, put a smile on their face, that's what I do. Sometimes I randomly walk up to a stranger and ask 'em how they're doing, how their day is going. You just never know what people are going through mentally. So I'm always doing something random. Plus, I just like bothering people anyway.
WM: When you reflect on your mental health journey, do any moments or time periods stand out to you?
MK: I always think about where I was at when I got let go from the Raiders at the time. I was really going through it to where I was bouncing between anger, frustration, suicide. I mean, I think back to that time, and it was because I let what other people thought about me bother me to that point. I haven't thought like that in a long time though. Like I said, I'm in a good place, and I know who I am, so if somebody has an opinion of me or something, I don't care.
WM: What helped you get through those moments? Did you talk to anybody or was it something you most dealt with internally?
MK: Yeah, I dealt with it a little bit internally. I talked to my cousin all the time and the circle of people that I had, which was probably about two or three people. They understood my situation. The rest of the world didn't. The thing that matters is what you think. The rest of the world doesn't live your life. They don't walk in your shoes. People don't know, but people always have assumptions. You gotta get to a point where the assumptions just don't matter any more because [they’re] not true.
WM: You left the NFL before you were really done. What was that adjustment period like, going from the NFL to trying to regroup and figure something else out?
MK: It was really aggravating because I've always been told my whole life that if you got the talent and everything, you can't get replaced. And I had the talent. I'm not breaking the law. I don't feel like I'm doing anything to hurt anybody. To get let go when I'm at the top of my game, it was just devastating. I feel like I've been lied to my whole life where people were talking about working hard and doing this and doing that. I feel like I did everything right. I'm not finna sit here and say I'm perfect, but I'm also not hurting people. So I don't know. It was pretty shitty. I ain't going to lie.
WM: How do you feel about your career today?
MK: It feels good. I'm happy to be doing something else, playing in a different league, but still in football, same 100-yard field. The rules are slightly changed, but I don't know, I feel good about it. I'm enjoying everything else I got that doesn't have anything to do with football. So that's why I'm just in a really good place.
WM: What's one of your favorite pieces of mental health advice?
MK: F*ck it. That's all I know.
WM: If you could give your fans any advice or words of encouragement, what would you say?
MK: Be yourself. Don't gauge your life on what other people have going on. You just got to be comfortable with who you are and just be yourself.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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