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What Kyler Can Learn from Patrick

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-Kyler Murray Press Conference Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Even before the 2019 NFL Draft a number of pundits like Ryan Clark were comparing Kyler Murray to a “Mini” Patrick Mahomes:

After being selected #1 in the 2019 NFL Draft, Kyler Murray, when asked about pundits comparing him to Patrick Mahomes, lauded Mahomes for “already being an NFL MVP” and said “so yeah, I take that as a compliment.”

After all, the two young QBs do have a number of things in common:

  • Highly heralded as Texas high school standouts in football and baseball.
  • Both Murray and Mahomes were selected in the NFL (1st Round) and MLB drafts (1st and 37th rounds).
  • Sons of outstanding athletes. Patrick’s dad, Pat Mahomes, was an MLB pitcher for 7 teams (Twins, Red Sox, , Mets, Rangers, Cubs and Pirates) who posted a career 42-39 record. Kyler’s dad, Kevin Murray, was the starting QB at Texas A&M from 1983-1986.
  • Both are from multi-racial families. Both their dads are African-Americans. Murray’s mom, Missy Henderson is of Korean descent and Patrick’s mom, Randi Mahomes is Caucasian.
  • As college QBs, they both had monster All-American caliber junior seasons in the Big 12, with Murray winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma for passing and rushing for a combined 5,362 yards and 54 TDs, while Mahomes at Texas Tech passed for 5,052 yards and 53 TDs.
  • Both are dual threat QBs who can beat teams with the arms, their legs and creative styles of play.
  • Both are linked to Kliff Kingsbury and the Air Raid offense.

Did you know that when Patrick Mahomes was a junior in high school he wanted to quit football? His mom helped to talk him out of it, telling him he would regret it and reminding him that he’s never been a quitter. Here is a recent interview with Randi Mahomes:

However, once Patrick Mahomes starting playing QB for Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech, he cast aside his love for baseball and turned his focus toward playing in the NFL.

Kyler Murray, on the other hand, has been a rolling stone of sorts.

As the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year in 2014-2015, Kyler Murray’s college recruitment was extremely intense. While Murray first made a verbal commitment to his dad’s alma mater, Texas A&M, before official signing day, the University of Texas made a fevered pitch for Murray to play for the Longhorns.

Things got ugly.

Once Kyler was open to listening to Texas and taking a visit to Austin, he and his family were harassed on social media, mostly by indignant Texas A&M fans.

Kevin Murray, while happy on the one hand that his son wanted to play for his alma mater, became leery of the fact that Texas A&M had already signed two of the nation’s top high school QB prospects.

The Murrays began to wonder if Kyler would have a better chance to play sooner at Texas.

Kyler decided to stick with his original commitment to Texas A&M—-which turned out to play into his dad’s biggest fears because of the poor communication between the QBs and the coaching staff—-and which ultimately led to Kyler’s transfer to the University of Oklahoma where the plan was for him to be the starter in 2017.

However, when the incumbent starter Baker Mayfield was granted a 5th year waiver to keep playing in 2017, Kyler Murray, arguably the most gifted young QB to come out of Texas in eons, was suddenly going to have to wait another year to play.

In the interim, Kyler starred on the baseball field in centerfield at Oklahoma, so much so that he was selected by the Oakland A’s with the #9 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Yet, amazingly the Oakland A’s supported Kyler’s wishes to play QB at Oklahoma in 2018.

As Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” about “two roads diverged in a yellow wood”...”and both that morning equally lay in leaves not step had trodden black, yet knowing how way leads on to way, I’d doubted if I should ever come back...” In the spring of 2018, Kyler Murray could have left college football behind and gone all-in on an exciting career with the Oakland A’s. Yet, Murray stayed to play QB.

While Kyler Murray was putting up gaudy passing and rushing numbers while leading Oklahoma to the Big 12 Championship and a berth in the 4 team FBS National Championship playoffs, Patrick Mahomes was basically taking a redshirt year with the Chiefs while being the backup to veteran QB Alex Smith.

To digress for a second, have you ever wondered whether Kyler Murray could have taken Oklahoma farther in their 2017 quest for an FBS national championship had Lincoln Riley started him ahead of Baker Mayfield? Sure, Mayfield won the Heisman, but could Kyler have surpassed Mayfield’s numbers and could he have taken the team to the finals?

Similarly, have you ever wondered whether Patrick Mahomes could have taken the Kansas City Chiefs farther in the 2018 NFL playoffs had Andy Reid started him ahead of Alex Smith?

I have—-and while no one has the exact answer to that question—-I do know this: the football world was deprived of watching two of the most dynamic young QBs on the planet, each for a whole season while they sat behind, more experienced, but less physically gifted QBs.

After winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma in 2018 as a one-year wonder and having admirably shown his mettle in trying to rally the Sooners back from a 28-0 deficit in the national semi-finals versus Alabama, suddenly Kyler Murray found himself cast adrift in a kind of no-man’s land, as he tried to decide whether to enter the 2019 NFL Draft or to honor his commitment to the Oakland A’s.

When Kyler announced his decision to enter the draft, he revealed that “football has always been my greatest love” and that his biggest dream “was always to play in the NFL.”

The Oakland A’s knew the risks they took when they allowed Kyler to stay at Oklahoma.

But, the A’s must have believed that due to Kyler’s diminutive size, he would never be an NFL 1st round draft pick, let alone the #1 pick in the draft.

It was pure serendipity that Kyler wound up being taken by the Arizona Cardinals, because of the Cardinals’ new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, who had tried to recruit Kyler so hard while he was at Texas Tech that by now he had become a friend of the family.

As the head coach at Texas Tech, Kingsbury had a much better shot of recruiting Patrick Mahomes because Mahomes was a 3 star prospect and was ranked the 12th best dual-threat QB in the nation.

With Kyler, Kingsbury never had a chance. Murray was the 2014-2015 National Gatorade Player of the Year, a 5 star prospect extraordinaire and the #1 ranked dual-threat QB in the country.

Thus, Kyler’s elation when the Cardinals picked him, of finally being able to play for Kingsbury in a system that he played in in Oklahoma and not have to waste another year sitting on the bench was readily palpable.

What is not readily comprehensible is why after an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year caliber season for the Cardinals in which Murray became the 2nd rookie in NFL history to pass for over 3,500 yards and rush for over 500 yards, is why he now expressing a desire to—-one day—-playing both football and baseball.

When Patrick Mahomes put down his baseball glove, he put it down for good.

This is what Kyler Murray can learn from Patrick Mahomes.

Both Patrick and Kyler are humble, team-first kind of players who possess outstanding work ethics and an insatiable thirst for competition.

After the Chiefs big win over the Titans on Sunday, Andy Reid spoke for minutes about Patrick Mahomes’ unselfish, do-what’s-best for-the-team approach to the game.

After Kyler won an NFC Offensive Player of the Week award following the Cardinals’ 34-33 win over the Falcons, he said the best thing about the award was how it recognized the progress of the Cardinals’ offense.

What Kyler should be able to understand is how unfeasible it is to play both sports at the professional level and still be an outstanding teammate.

Are his football teammates supposed to accept his absence as the QB of the team during the off-season, (except for mandatory mini-camp) while he is playing baseball? Are his baseball teammates supposed to accept him leaving the team in the middle of July?

It is very likely that Kyler is experiencing a profound sense of restlessness now that it is the off-season. Like Michael Jordan, Kyler is one of those athletes who lusts for competition on a daily basis. Kyler didn't like the NFL bye week—-he wanted to stick with the same day in and day out routine.

Maybe the thought of the longer 162 game season in baseball looks more appealing to him than the 16+ game football season. If that’s the case, then he should have stuck with baseball.

Regardless, what Kyler Murray needs to do—-is stop being a rolling stone. After committing verbally to Texas A&M, he accepted a visit to Texas, which caused all kinds of grief to him and his family. When things didn't go his way as a freshman at Texas A&M, even after Kyle Allen transferred to Houston, essentially paving the way for him to be the Aggie’s starting QB in their Music City Bowl game and then as a sophomore, he decided to transfer to Oklahoma, which wound up having him sit out for two years behind Baker Mayfield.

Then after being drafted by the Oakland A’s and accepting their $5M signing bonus, he decided, after all, that football is his greatest love.

Now he’s dreaming about the thought of playing both football and baseball.

Kyler says that for right now he 100% committed to football (which his contract demands)—-but how can anyone believe him at this point?

Patrick Mahomes knows that he is going to be the QB of the Kansas City Chiefs as long as he is able and willing.

This is the peace of mind that Kyler Murray needs.

This is where Kyler and Patrick are most unalike.

At least for now.