Marquette King surveys a slew of items sitting in a patch of dry park grass. With a wily smile, he takes stock of the burgers, donuts, piñatas, beach balls and roses that have been collected as part of a video shoot for NFL.com, knowing that within minutes, all will feel the full force of his right foot. But when his eyes lock in on a multi-colored birthday cake, they narrow, exposing a rare moment for the league’s most extemporaneous player. He’s got a plan.
It’s Derek Carr‘s birthday, you see, and what better way for the Oakland Raiders punter to celebrate his Pro Bowl quarterback than to crush a frosting-covered baked good as far as he can? With perfect form, pointed toe and all, King connects with the cake, sending a resounding thud throughout the open field. There’s cake everywhere: on his shoes, his shirt, even in his hair.
But before bits of cake have a chance to bake into the arid Arizona landscape, King’s focus abruptly shifts toward a group of middle-school kids playing soccer at the opposite end of the park. He hollers to get their attention, then unleashes an NFL-caliber punt toward them. Arms flailing, they hurry to track the ball. As it hurls toward the earth, self-preservation kicks in, sending the kids scurrying like ants in rain. King hustles over to them and strikes up a conversation.
The viral birthday wish has been viewed more than one million times on social media and on TV since that late-March afternoon, building on the existing narrative that Marquette King is an off-the-wall oddball — a narrative he doesn’t actively push, but one he doesn’t challenge, either. While the…
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