FOXBORO, Mass. — David King was starstruck when he met Bill Belichick and still didn't understand all of the rules of American football. So, how did the former semipro Aussie rules player wind up as the Patriots’ newest punter? That’s an interesting question.
“I’m just a normal guy from Australia, just had a working background,” the 28-year-old Australian said Thursday. “I’m pretty much just a working-class guy who manages to be able to kick a ball. I’ve come over here to learn a lot more and try to make it on the team.”
King began working on his punting skills in October 2008 and has been back and forth attending camps between America and Australia. He has had workouts with other NFL teams, but the Patriots were the first to sign him. Even though King is the only punter in New England, he has no expectations that this is his job to lose.
“To tell you the truth, I’m just here to learn as much as I can,” King said. “If I manage to stick around for longer, then that’s a great opportunity that I’ll get. I’m not too flustered about who is here, who is not here. I just want to worry about what I can learn and how much I can improve while I’m at the Pats for the next few weeks.”
King played for three semipro teams from 2001-08 in Aussie rules football. King described the game as a combination of American football, Gaelic football, rugby and soccer on an oval field with 36 guys playing at the same time — unfortunately, there’s no Rosetta Stone for that game — and he has also worked as a personal trainer and a product rep for a hardware company. Yet, he wanted to go a different route and dove into the American game.
“It’s just a dream,” King said. “I just want to do something different that people back home really never do — throwing yourself out there in the deep end. It’s a long process to get here. I just want to make sure people back home are proud of me.”
King kicks with his right foot and has been working to adjust to the different styles of the American game. Rather than running with the ball for 10-15 steps and booting it like they do in Australia — something that would get him get him killed in the NFL — King knows he can only take a few steps before punting the ball nowadays. He said he can also kick the ball 60-65 yards but understands hang time is as important as distance in the NFL.
The punter has also never attended an NFL game, so there’s that. And he is also trying to learn all of the rules, so we didn’t even want to attempt explaining the league’s new overtime system.
“That’s something I’ll be learning in the next few weeks, I’d say,” King said. “I don’t have a great deal of knowledge. I do like the game, I’ll tell you that much. We don’t get a great deal of it back home on TV. The last few years, it’s been getting a lot more reception because of the Aussies that are playing in the league now. I’m here to learn. I’m just here to really kick a football. If I can show the guys I can do that, hopefully I can learn the rest that comes along with that.”