With stops in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Detroit and San Diego, Robert Malone, an undrafted All-WAC punter out of Fresno State, put some miles on his NFL odometer before landing with the Jets four days before the 2013 season opener against Buffalo.
Off to a good start, his first punt, in the fourth quarter, was for 55 yards and downed at the 4-yard line. Malone did what head coach Rex Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff had said they wanted from him.
"In terms of expectations, I mean, they were really big on directional punting and they wanted to make sure that I was going to bring consistency and hangtime and everything else," Malone said. "I worked out with them once before, and then did one more workout for them before I got signed. And thankfully, it turned out pretty well. They just wanted for me to continue to bring what I performed in the workouts."
It certainly didn't hurt that Malone performed well in the workouts and the 48-28 win over the Bills in front of Westhoff, one of the most respected and, well, most intimidating coordinators in the NFL.
"I think if you asked anybody, if they're being honest with you, yeah, there's always a little bit of intimidation with Westhoff," Malone said. "But it was good. You knew what he expected. He expected everyone to do their job. I mean, there's 32 guys in the league at my position and I knew that there was a lot of hungry guys out there.
"And so the expectations are always high. The pressure was always high. But that's the name of the game. It's the business that we're in. And so I knew what I was walking into and we tried to do the best job we could."
Malone did an admirable job during his first season with the Jets. Posting a franchise-record 45.8 average and a 38.5 net average on 84 punts, he had a punt of at least 50 yards in every game.
"I was very grateful of how it worked out," Malone said. "For me, in high school and college, I was always really driven by the gross numbers. But once I got into the league, I was really more concerned about the net averages and what we all ultimately did for the team. And so that was what I was more worried about.
"I think we were close on a couple of other records, but a couple of games towards the end, I didn't finish as strong as I'd like in December. But, yeah, it was a cool experience and I was able to have that title while it lasted."
Another cool experience occurred during the 2013 season opener against Tampa Bay in the Meadowlands, when late in the third quarter, Malone brought the crowd to a roar when he blasted an 84-yard punt that barely made its way into the end zone for a touchback.
"I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing on the 1-yard line. We were snapping from the 16, and remember Isaiah Trufant was about one foot away from downing it on the other 1(-yard line)," Malone said.
With the Jets for 18 games over two seasons, what are among Malone's fondest memories from his time in New York?
"It was a great group of guys. (The kicker) Nick Folk and (long snapper) Tanner Purdum were awesome. It was just a lot of fun," he said. "My first punt with the Jets, we were playing the Bills, and it was a 50-plus  yarder downed inside the 10, (on the 4-yard line). It was just a cool experience to start it all off. I think the group of guys and playing for Rex was always fun.
"It was my favorite team to play for. It wasn't necessarily the best record that we had in my seasons that I played, my rookie year with the Bucs was probably the best in terms of records, but my most fun time was with the Jets. They did a lot of cool stuff for the families. My wife met some of her best friends during that time. And we still keep up with a few of the players. Nick Folk and Demario Davis are probably the two closest guys that I keep up with.
"And Jet fans, they're a loyal group, but they'll also let you know if they're not happy. Which is very fair. They're paying for their seats. I always loved playing in that stadium. I mean, people really got behind you. I had nothing but a great experience. I know Jet fans are tough on players, but in my experience when I was there, it was nothing but well received. I was super grateful."
Making their home in Cornelius, NC, Malone and his wife, Maygan, who's the Associate Dean of Admissions at Davidson College, have two children: Noel and Noah.
"We actually adopted our two kids," Malone said. "Noel is 14. And Noah is 11, he'll be 12 in January. We started fostering them back in 2017 and officially adopted them in 2019."
Three years before that, in 2016, Malone began working for Ion Carbon & Minerals, and is their Director of Marketing.
"My colleague, who I met through the church that we were going to, I actually was approached by him in 2015 to work with him," Malone said. "And then I ultimately got signed to the Giants, so I moved up to New York again. And then after I got released, I came back, and it just so happened that they never filled that position. I've been here ever since.
"I'm in raw materials trade, mostly in the steel industry. We move all kinds of raw materials all around the world in big ocean vessels to Asia and Australia and everywhere in between. Initially, I was brought in for a different project, a specialty carbon division, and I got to travel the world. I went to Shanghai, China. I went to Seoul, Korea. Canada. Mexico. All over just learning the industry.
"It's a lot of fun. It's a very entrepreneurial-type job. There's really no lane to stay in. Essentially, our owner says go make money without spending his money. So we try to figure out how to do that."
Few players experienced the commonly used acronym for NFL – Not For Long – more than Malone. However, one could fabricate another fitting acronym for him, WOFTB – Worked Out For The Best.
"I look back at all my memories throughout football and it's so cool to see," Malone said. "I was obviously frustrated getting cut essentially seven times. But looking back at it, I can see how God has orchestrated all of this. Because if I didn't get cut and then re-signed by seven different teams in the order I did, we would have never lived in North Carolina. We would have never found our two kids. And we wouldn't be the family we are today.
"And so I'm just grateful for my experiences. I don't think any of this would have been possible if I didn't have those experiences in the NFL."