Conditionally Yours, Kyler Murray

For purposes of this post…let’s say after three years as a Purchasing Agent, you have just been promoted to the title of Purchasing Manager for your company. The company is a global organization consisting of many employees, and also has many suppliers providing you material as cheaply as you can possibly negotiate it for. In fact, all of your employees know deep down the financial success of your firm often comes down to just how well the Purchasing Manager and his team have negotiated costs with all of its suppliers on a regular, consistent basis.

The announcement of your promotion comes via a press release, sent not only to all your employees, but to all the suppliers as well. In it, there is also mention of a contract clause you agreed to which says as part of earning your new salary, you will commit to studying strategies of being a successful negotiator at least four hours a week outside of the company’s regular business hours. Furthermore, the addendum goes on to say you have agreed to the stipulation that your studying cannot be done while playing video games, watching television, or browsing the Internet.

Well, that would be humiliating, wouldn’t it? For you…and your company.

I present one Kyler Murray, who recently signed a five-year contract extension to continue as the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals. The new deal is valued at $230.5 million, with about $105 million guaranteed at signing.

Kyler’s status was the talk of the NFL when he deleted all references to the Cardinals on his social media back in February after the team’s awful playoff performance against the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. With Murray entering the final year of his contract, his agent insinuated the Cardinals may not be that serious about winning, and that his client would now seek a new deal giving him the stability he wanted going forward.

Meanwhile, word leaked out that Arizona might have some concerns Murray was going to be their long-term solution at quarterback, worried about his total commitment to the sport, as well as his alleged lack of leadership.

After winning the Heisman Trophy while at Oklahoma, Kyler was the #1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and in his three seasons with the Cardinals was named to the Pro Bowl twice, while also improving his passer rating from season to season. However, Arizona has only made the playoffs once with Murray calling the shots…that awkward, ugly loss to the Rams last season. His body language during that game didn’t look very leader-like…and it was also reported Murray refused to go back onto the field to take the final snaps of that contest.

Several days ago, while both Murray and the team were basking in the glow of that contract extension, word leaked out regarding an almost unheard of addendum added to his contract…which I’ll paraphrase below based on media reports:

Murray will need to earn “credit” for studying film to prepare for each of the team’s games. Time in mandatory team meetings does not count, and he will study in good faith…which means he can’t be playing video games, watching television, or browsing the Internet.

It is certainly not unusual for teams to put adders in contracts dealing with weight or other tangibles, but we may have gone down a whole new road here on a clause speaking towards intangibles such as effort, attention to detail, and concentration. The clause is simply titled “Independent Study Addendum.”

Playing quarterback in the NFL is hard. There are only so many athletes who can do it really, really well. When you have invested a #1 overall pick, it’s admittedly hard for Arizona to walk away from Murray right now based on that fact alone. He’s performed fairly well in his three seasons, but the question is if he hasn’t been continuously trying to improve himself and his team…and you believe he does not have a leadership mentality…how do you let him keep the keys and drive the bus?

He could have played major league baseball if he so chose. Kyler is a tremendous athlete. I openly questioned his height (5-10) as he entered the pros but with his arm, and the ability to elude defenders and take off in any direction, I was open to the possibility he’d develop into a good if not great quarterback. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I am hopeful he can still become a star in the NFL. I’m rooting for him to succeed.

Murray turns 25 on August 7th. Looking back when I was that age, I didn’t always focus on the job at hand. No way. I was undisciplined at times. If you throw in all the entitlement Kyler has likely enjoyed throughout his high school and college experiences, I think we can see where he’d think he knows everything about life – and football – already.

He told the New York Times two years ago, “I’m not one of those guys that’s going to sit there and kill myself watching film. I don’t sit there for 24 hours and break down this team or that team and watch every game because, in my head, I see so much.”

I don’t know how the Cardinals plan to enforce this addendum to Murray’s contract, or if they’d get laughed out of court if they tried to hold back his pay. I do know this. If you are paying someone this kind of money, who because of their position is also likely the face of your franchise, you don’t do something so incredibly stupid as to put any of this in writing.

It remains to be seen if Arizona has also done something so incredibly stupid by extending Kyler Murray’s employment.

Curses on occasion can be intriguing…as long as you aren’t the cursed. Last January, before that playoff game with the Rams, the Cardinals’ Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury (who certainly is culpable in Murray’s apparent lack of maturity) made mention of the Pottsville (PA) Maroons. “I’m sure they’re very lovely people in Pottsville. I hope that they will rescind the curse very soon.”

That curse involves what fans of the Maroons claim is stolen property – the 1925 NFL Championship – which the then-Chicago Cardinals were gifted. Pottsville played an exhibition game against some Notre Dame players following the Maroons’ victory at Chicago, which was very much against the wishes of NFL Commissioner Joseph Carr. The title of NFL Champion was then stripped from Pottsville and awarded to the Cardinals.

Those Chicago Cardinals did win a more legitimate NFL title in 1947, but since then the franchise hasn’t won another. It’s been 75 years.

If Kyler Murray can pull off an NFL Championship after all of this contract nonsense, it will be unconditionally money well spent.

 

Picture Courtesy Athlon Sports

23 thoughts on “Conditionally Yours, Kyler Murray”

    1. Mark, time will tell. After I posted this, Kyler called a press conference to criticize everyone but the Cardinals, and then the Cardinals announced the “study hard clause” had been taken out of his contract. I think it looks worse now if that’s possible.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I have a hard time feeling sorry for Kyler. He must have worked hard to get where he is, but to stay where he is takes work and extra effort. Sad that he has to be incentivized to do what he should do. STUDY and watch film and be a true teammate. For the money he’s making, he should do that and more. (Disclosure, I’m a Patriots fan). 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pam, I am positive this kind of nonsense would never happen with Bill Belichick involved. There would likely be only one conversation needed – problem solved. The sad part is you have to believe his teammates already knew this was a problem, and that alone didn’t lead Kyler to self-correct. Good luck to the Pats this season!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The idea that the clause was removed does not take away from the fact it was there to begin with. A QB that needs to be told to prepare is a QB that could care less, and now that he has inked the contract and will be wealthy no matter what happens, you can rest assured of two things: (1) Kyler Murray will tank, and (2) He will be knocked out of the season (due to a fantasy injury) by the 4th play of the third game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once the addendum became public, I felt the logical thing for him to do was put his head down, stay quiet, and set out to prove everyone wrong. But…he called a press conference to blame everyone except the Cardinals, and then the team said they’d take the clause out. It already was a sideshow. It’s a full-blown circus now.

      Like

  3. The dedication these professional athletes have to have in order to become the best is awe inspiring. I can’t imagine what they have to go through to maintain their status. Kudos to them for being able to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If Kyler keeps healthy, knock on wood, his talents can continue to take him to great financial bounties. Or he can switch to baseball, even and still. Or choose another path to make a living with his celebrity, intellect, or other marketable interests he discovers. He’s 25 and a great success. So much more attainable is in front of him. First off, with this signed contract and the commitment to this team, he should attempt to be the best QB he can be this season. Study up!
    As for a curse on the Cardinals, Kliff, I’d be just as worried about the trinkets and bad thoughts still pointed southwest by the football-loving citizens of St. Louis.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Just before I read this post, I read that Kyler has tested positive for Covid. So, not a great start to training camp. The press conference he called was very weird. Why was he mad at “us”, when he was the one who signed a contract that had this clause in it? To me, he feels like the NFL version of Russell Westbrook. Extraordinary player, with all the talent in the world, but doesn’t win (at least not yet).

    By the way, I’ll be launching the fantasy league in the coming days so be on the lookout for that!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Paul, we are so looking forward to that launch! As for Kyler, I just found out about the Covid situation…and I also saw Kliff Kingsbury being interviewed. Kliff jus doesn’t look like the coach who is going to get the most out of Murray. Time will tell…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s so interesting to read things like this and then see the comments; it’s a secret language to me, lol. Fascinating deets!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kyler is an amazing athlete for sure. The whole situation makes us wonder what’s going on. Does he really goof off instead of studying the film? It sounds like it. Hopefully he matures and starts preparing more as the years go by. It will likely happen if/when he loses too much and gets motivated to win. I’ll be cheering for him too.

    As for Pottsville, I’m fascinated by that story. We went to the Hall of Fame in Canton this Summer and saw some stuff about Pottsville. I love that history. Plus, as a Southside Chicagoan who cheers for the Sox, the Cardinals franchise hits close to home since their days playing in Comiskey Park. No titles since 1947….talk about a drought!

    Good stuff Bruce,
    Reid

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reid, the Oakland As have always been my AL team to root for, and I was hoping Kyler would steer in that direction to play baseball for them. Not that they would have kept him if he turned out to be good, but when you are an A’s fan you know the players are all rentals anyway. We take what we can get. Pottsville is a wild story indeed, and I wish the Cardinals were either in Chicago or St. Louis instead of the desert. They had a lot of history in the Midwest!

      Liked by 1 person

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