Kyler Cole Murray was (sadly somewhat) controversial to many Cardinals fans the moment that his name was called out by Roger Goodell at the 2019 draft.
Mostly because he was replacing a liked quarterback who had just been drafted the year before in Josh Rosen.
Some fans even probably booed.
And a lot of them probably regretted it.
Murray in his first year showed poise, confidence, growth, but as far as an overall #1 pick goes, while the team was centered around him, he really took it all in and led more with a quiet confidence while letting the Larry Fitzgeralds, Chandler Jones’s and D.J. Humphries of the team take the lead in the leadership category.
And why shouldn’t he? He was a rookie, and many of those players, in that regard, showed their own idea of what to do in a number of ways that season. One that comes to mind is Chandler Jones, an All-Pro player whose play in the desert might get the city of Chandler, AZ named after him some day, carrying his rookie’s pads out to practice and raving about him to a nearby camera.
Imagine if the new employee at your work showed up and your head honcho was the one carrying HIS coffee and raving about him.
(Okay, so it’s a little different with quarterbacks)
But that image stuck and it set an example of servant leadership and tact in how to diffuse what might have been an awkward situation for an entire season depending on players who felt like Josh Rosen had been shunted out unfairly.
Murray played well and while he won a Rookie of the Year award, the next steps in his development as a leader have been in a different sense before even setting a foot on the field in his sophomore season:
Earlier this year before the draft, Kyler Murray wrote a stunning essay imploring the rookies of the 2020 NFL Draft class to stand for something more than themselves & football.
He chose to help feed kids in school and reflected on how his youth made him who he was, and it was perhaps the first time that Murray had been so well spoken...er...written.
That also changed this week.
In an interview with Arizona media members, Murray discussed many of the topics present in the country as far as racism and racial identity and dealing with hate, and put it into terms that every football fan or player knows...that of accountability.
Murray said he would choose to kneel for the flag and, without delving into politics at all, the fact that he went on the record with a decision on the matter before we’ve heard of anything like that from the likes of other star players such as Chandler Jones or Larry Fitzgerald means that he felt that...whatever comes...it was worth the criticism.
As a football player, your duty is to your team and if I’m gonna be honest...if I was in Kyler’s shoes I wouldn’t have probably said anything.
I would have more likely watched and copied whatever Larry Legend did and waited on that to see a response and a reaction. Only 3.4% of the state of Arizona is African-American, and while there’s no knowing how people will respond to anything, but I’m proud that he made a choice.
I don’t know if I would have had the guts to, either way, in that public of a setting when I was only 23 years old in just my 2nd year in a “big boy job”.
To take things to an extra level, Kyler found a solution to the lack of practices that not only should help keep his players safe....but provides an equal opportunity to learn and bond with his teammates:
Kyler Murray has invited 20 teammates to Dallas for several days of workouts and team building, and he's paying for flights, hotels, everything https://t.co/MfdjtYHd2Z— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) June 18, 2020
Paying for everything...let’s put that in perspective:
21 players, from Fitzgerald and Hopkins to the Hakeem Butlers and Keesean Johnsons all the way down to a Dylan Cantrell.
A 4-day trip all paid for out of his pocket...probably around some $40,000 worth.
While this chunk of coin might be hand-waved for those who are millionaires, when’s the last time that you saw someone in the NFL during an offseason:
- Put together a workout session for his whole team’s offensive skill players and only his team for the purpose of bonding w/ his guys (players like Carson Palmer have had a guy like John Brown over before or as part of a group of guys nearby)
- Pay for flights, hotels and meals (and this is FINE food, mind you)
- Pay for entertainment and the likes all while social distancing
- Do it for FOUR days. Not a 3 day trip or having 2 days on the weekend but 4 days w/ morning travel, but having four COMPLETE days’ worth in Dallas
Oh and did I mention he’s not just bringing guys for him to workout with...but he’s having the team’s other 3 quarterbacks along as well? Yup—Kyler isn’t just about Kyler, here.
This is kind of unprecedented as there’s guys who’ve done things in the past such as get Segways or cover the cost for air-conditioners for a position group as Jared Goff did on Hard Knocks when the Rams had to stay in dorms.
But this...is crazy.
And this is leadership.
To put it all on the bill essentially cements him as understanding the idea of serving others. Imagine a Chris Streveler having to pay thousands out of pocket to attend if he wanted to on his own, when instead his QB goes “nah man, I got it”. And it shows sacrifice on behalf of a leader for his teammates.
It earns respect, praise and honestly might be even better than a minicamp.
Heck, call it a MurrayCamp instead of a minicamp.
(Can I trademark that? Probably not...)
It’s just another step on the road but one that a 23-year-old Kyler Murray seems to be trotting with ease in a way that can’t help but draw you in.
Cause I know as sure as the sun comes up, I’d be coming back from that trip with all the memories going “My quarterback did that for me.” and let’s hope this example that has been set by the young gunslinger doesn’t goes unnoticed.