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Kyler Murray’s Will Power and His Red Badge of Courage

Syndication: Arizona Republic Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kyler Murray is taking a lot hits these days.

One of the more recent ones came from Terry Bradshaw, who has been talking and acting like he’s Sean Payton’s new best friend.

Bradshaw claimed that Sean Payton didn’t want to coach for the Cardinals “because of the quarterback.”

I call BS.

The more likely truth is that Terry Bradshaw didn’t finish his sentence by saying “because of the quarterback who’s return to action at this point is uncertain.”

What effective coaches and teachers typically understand is —- the best way to inspire someone is to make the effort to discover the special qualities —- in the person.

DeAndre Hopkins recently informed us that he greatly enjoyed and appreciated his talk with the Cardinals’ new GM Monti Ossenfort. What was so impressive to D-Hop about the conversation was that very little of it was focused on football or his future in the NFL.

This speaks volumes to Ossenfort’s character and modus operandi as an administrator. The meeting was us a “let’s get to know each other” talk, where neither party came into it assuming anything about the other.

NFL pundits have been speculating that Kyler Murray is scaring off the Cardinals’ coaching candidates.

To that as well, I call BS.

In essence, helping Kyler Murray and the Cardinals achieve at the highest level is as great a challenge as any NFL coach could ask for. Sure, on the surface, it may be thought by some as “high risk” —- but for coaches who dare to reach for the brass rings —- and can see where there is great potential —- the rewards could not be more gratifying.

What Kyler Murray’s new head coach needs to do is to have a “let’s get to know each other” chat with the QB —- all for the purpose of learning what makes Kyler Murray —-the person —- special. Forget about the player, at first —- discover the person.

There is an art to discovering the special quality in someone. It requires patience, a great deal of listening and a knack for asking the right questions.

From what I have understood about Kyler Murray, in my opinion, what makes him special is his will power.

That’s a very reasonable question from Dan Taylor which many of us can relate to. But here’s the thing...

So, the biggest question is, can and will Kyler. Murray ever view playing for the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium the way he views playing at AT&T?

While we might need a crystal ball to answer that question, no matter where Kyler plays, the key to the level of his leadership from this point forward, is how resilient and determined he is to exert his will power through every practice and game of an entire season.

We have seen Kyler Murray’s will power in fits and starts —- can he manage to sustain it?

What one learns from experience, not in just real life but from some of the greatest classics ever written —— the courage to succeed is spawned by two pervading emotions: (1) humbleness; (2) pride for one’s teammates.

Jalen Hurts is the NFL poster boy for humbleness and will power. So is Patrick Mahomes. See you in Glendale on Sunday, dudes!

In Stephen Crane’s classic Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage, the protagonist, Henry Fleming, enrolls in the Union army because he has visions of grandeur. His ultimate goal is to return to his hometown a war hero and the adored subject of a lavish parade.

Henry, whom Crane describes as “The Youth”, finds his assimilation into his regiment very awkward and challenging. Some of the soldiers are easy to get along with, but some are just plain nasty. Before long, Henry starts to question just how brave he will be when he engages in combat. Is he the Achilles he dreams of when he thinks of himself at war?

During the first two battles, Henry’s most nagging nightmares come true when he finds himself running as fast as his feet can carry him deep into the woods. Ironically, after the second time, when he tries to ask another fleeing soldier where he is coming from, the soldier hits Henry in the head with the butt end of his rifle, inflicting a bloody wound.

As a woozy Henry tries to make his way back to the camp, a “Cheery Soldier” attends to Henry’s wound and wraps it in gauze. The assumption is that Henry incurred his wound in battle and suddenly Henry is being looked at with admiration. Henry basks in the sudden admiration, but deep in his heart, he knows he doesn’t deserve it. It’s dramatic irony at its finest.

The game-changing scene occurs when Henry and his compadre Wilson (The Loud Soldier) have walked down to the creek to fill their canteens and they eavesdrop on a colonel and a captain having a conversation about which regiment would be the most expendable to throw into the front line of the next battle.

Henry and Wilson hear the colonel tell the captain that their regiment, the New York 304th, is the most expendable. The lieutenant says with scorn for the 304th, “they’re a bunch of mule drivers.”

Hearing this abject disparagement of their regiment humbles and infuriates Henry and Wilson.

As they return to camp, they know that their regiment, in the next battle, will be called on to be the sacrificial front line that charges into “impending annihilation.”. if ever there was a reasonable and imminent cause to run —- this was it.

Instead, by virtue of their humble, heart-felt pride for their fellow soldiers, they become motivated, beyond all belief, to prove the colonel and the general wrong.

Henry and Wilson not only fight bravely for the first time ever, Henry is handed the Union flag to protect as the “color bearer” (which makes him the most vulnerable soldier in the regiment) and yet, instead of retreating, Henry and Wilson keep fighting side-by-side until they wind up wresting the Confederate flag away from a wounded rebel..

Now that the war is over, having been sufficiently humbled by the experience, Henry no longer wishes to be given a parade in his hometown —- unless that is —- the parade is offered to the entire regiment.

This reminds me of Kyler after he won NFL Offensive Player of the Week this first couple of times. He deflected the individual praise by lauding his teammates instead. He said the awards belonged to the entire offense.

Kyler, at his core, has two outstanding things going for him —- his humble awareness of where praise belongs, and the steely strength of his will power.

The most recent manifestation of Kyler’s will power was evidenced during the remarkable fight he waged to try to win the game down the stretch in Las Vegas. Kyler had to be picture perfect and run a round like a madman in order to pull that game out —- and, by gum, he was picture perfect.

The other most impressive manifestation of Kyler’s will power was the game he played last January 2nd at AT&T stadium versus the then red hot Dallas Cowboys, who had won 5 games in a row in butt-kicking fashion.

Kyler, behind a makeshift line, and without DeAndre Hopkins, versus one of the most daunting defenses in the NFL, combined for over 300 yards passing (263 yards) and rushing (49 yards), while throwing 2 touchdown passes to Antoine Wesley and setting up 4 field goals by Matt Prater, For the Cardinals, who were reeling at that point late in the season, it was a stunning 25-22 upset which secured the team a (120 year) franchise record 8th win on the road.

Kyler Murray is some kind of special whenever he takes the field at AT&T Stadium, where he will always be revered as the home grown legend from Allen.

Therefore, the key to Kyler Murray’s successful return to action —- now that he is wearing his own red badge of courage —- is finely braiding humble reckonings with the sheer will to prevail.

Deliberately, to this point in the article, we haven’t even talked about Kyler’s supreme talent, as Zach Ertz elaborates on so vividly in this interview:

Amen, Zach Ertz!

The next few weeks and months ahead will test —- more than ever before —- the strength of Kyler’s will and the pride he has in his teammates.

Hey Kyler and Ertz, you guys are nothing but a “bunch of mule drivers.”

There —- what are going to do about that?