Say what you will about Kevin King, the fifth-year Green Bay Packers cornerback doesn’t make excuses.
Speaking on August 24 for the first time since before January’s NFC Championship Game, King directly confronted his own “failures” in that fateful matchup and shared some insight into his mindset as he prepares for a fifth season with the Packers in which many fans did not expect him to return.
King became notorious over the past several months for giving up two touchdowns to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the Packers’ 31-26 loss in the NFC title game. He also missed five games with a quad issue during the 2020 season, adding another unfortunate chapter to his injury history after having a breakout year in 2019.
To the surprise of many, the Packers agreed to bring back King on a one-year deal after giving him a short amount of time to test the waters in free agency, but his 2021 role became less clear when Green Bay used the No. 29 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft to select former Georgia standout Eric Stokes.
So, what does King think about a premier rookie cornerback being brought in to compete for his starting job this season?
“Look, if he can beat me out on that field, then they drafted the right guy,” King said.
Here’s King’s full answer on Stokes and what he means for his 2021 season:
People ask me that a lot, just about ‘Oh, did you think they would draft a corner?’ It’s like, honestly, I don’t even think too much into it. Literally, the year after I got drafted, they drafted Jaire (Alexander) and Josh (Jackson) back-to-back, you know what I’m saying? So it was like, ‘Damn.’ But honestly, that really doesn’t have anything to do with me, so that’s really how I look at it. I don’t think no one can take from me what God has in store for me. I’ve never been one of those type of guys to withhold knowledge from a guy. (Stokes is) a great guy who loves listening, has great ability, great talents, and he’ll have a long, prosperous career in this league, no doubt about it. And I want to help with that. But I know what type of player I am. I know what type of player I can be. And only I really know that, that type of potential and capability. I just try to get better every day and try to help him get better. Look, if he can beat me out on that field, then they drafted the right guy. But like I said, a man can’t take nothing from me that God has in store.
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King Confident Despite Most Recent ‘Failures’
King didn’t mind using the word “failure” when talking about his most recent performance with the Packers, and his self-awareness should be worth at least some goodwill from fans who were not pleased to see him re-signed.
After originally being a game-time decision with a back injury, King was ruled active and proceeded to play one of the worst first halves of his entire career. He failed to stop Mike Evans’ first-quarterback touchdown with a poorly-timed jump, then allowed Scotty Miller to scorch him down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown just before halftime. (Although, most of the blame for the latter touchdown falls on the shoulders of former Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who was fired after the playoffs).
King was also flagged for a devastating defensive-pass-interference penalty on third-and-4 with 1:48 left to play, one that allowed the Bucs to milk the remainder of the clock and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl on a five-point victory.
“Things like that, I don’t know if you ever necessarily get over,” King told reporters on Tuesday. “But it’s a learning experience. … You can use things to get better. You listen to all these guys who have the greatest success stories, they’ve all used those ‘failures’ as turning points. In their minds, as humans, it’s kind of just evolving in that stage of life. … I’ve challenged myself all offseason and continue to challenge myself to come out better from that situation, so ‘failure,’ that’s just a word.”
King Never Wanted to Leave Green Bay
King spent less than a week as an unrestricted free agent before agreeing to his new contract with the Packers, but it sounds like he didn’t waste much time looking at other options while waiting to hear whether Green Bay wanted him back.
For all intents and purposes, King could have been an appealing free agent for cornerback-needy teams on a budget. While he missed 23 career games over his first four seasons, he was legitimately good starter in 2019 when he recorded five interceptions, 15 pass deflections and 66 total tackles over 15 games. His injury history also increased the chances of him signing his next deal at a discount price.
Once the Packers made him an offer to return for their all-in 2021 campaign, though, King leapt at the chance.
“I’m not the type of guy that just tries to sweep s*** under the rug, you know (and then say) all right, let me get a fresh start somewhere,'” King said. “No. I want to finish this with my guys, you know what I’m saying? The guys who’ve believed in me and the guys who continue to believe in me. And like I said, I’m going to do my part to uphold my side of the bargain, but … we’re here to win a Super Bowl.”