What's up with Kyler Murray
The former Sooner QB has always played it cool, a trait sure to have contributed to what he's put the Arizona Cardinals and their fans through recently
The oddest thing about this Kyler Murray saga?
We still have no idea, not really, what it’s about.
After the Pro Bowl, played Feb. 6 in Las Vegas, where the former Sooner quarterback completed 18 of 27 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns, Murray scrubbed his Instagram and Twitter accounts of all reference to the Arizona Cardinals, the team for which he plays … right up to the Cards’ 34-11 wild card round loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, at least.
Since? Crickets (almost).
The morning of the Super Bowl, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen issued a tweet reporting the following:
The odd vibe between the @AZCardinals and Kyler Murray is indeed alarming:
Murray is described as self-centered, immature and finger pointer, per sources.
Murray is frustrated with franchise and was embarrassed by playoff loss to Rams and thinks he’s been framed as the scapegoat.
That prompted a statement from the Cardinals, which said this:
Nothing has changed regarding our opinion and high regard for Kyler Murray. We as a team and Kyler individually have improved each year he’s been in the league. We are excited to continue that improvement in 2022 and are excited that Kyler Murray is the quarterback leading us.
Mortensen also released a second tweet that read, in part, “Despite the acrimony, the Cardinals expect things to calm down and Murray’s their QB,” adding that some of Arizona’s veterans were hoping “to reach Murray on how he handle[s] adversity better.”
Finally, Monday, an insanely long time since scrubbing his social media accounts and heading into a figurative bunker, leaving everybody to guess what he’s thinking, Murray offered this in a tweet:
I play this game for the love of it, my teammates, everyone who has helped me get to this position that believed in me & to win championships. All of this nonsense is not what I’m about, never has been, never will be. Anyone who has ever stepped between those lines with me knows how hard I go.
Love me or hate me but I’m going to continue to grow and get better.
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The most unique thing about it is how little of actual substance it appears to be about.
Yes, Murray scrubbed the platforms, which is strange and alarming, but given the silence that followed, a silence marked by everybody throwing their hands up and saying, “What the hell is any of this of this about,” nothing real surfaced until Murray’s Monday tweet, the last sentence of which sounded a whole lot like an apology, or as much as any statement could sound like an apology without the words “apologize” or “sorry” in it.
Thursday, on @AZCentral.com, the website of The Arizona Republic, Phoenix’s daily newspaper, Cardinals writers Bob McManaman and Kent Somers, offered their thoughts in a video.
Among the first words out of McManaman’s mouth were an exasperated “I wish I knew” what it’s all about, this from one who should be as plugged in as anybody.
Somers offered thoughts that made all the sense in the world to my ears, having covered Murray at Oklahoma; so if you tend to think I know I what I’m talking about, you should listen to Somers.
“Kyler’s a hard guy to get to know,” he said. “He’s not a guy who’s going to give you a lot of himself and let you in his head or his heart.”
Both writers both professed to liking Murray personally. Also, Somers had more to say.
“I don’t doubt for a minute that [the Cardinals] have told him, ‘Look, your body language needs to improve, we want to see you develop as a leader and we think you can … and if they said that, how did Kyler take it,’” he said.
When Murray was in Norman, calling him the stoic, silent type didn’t quite cover it. The full picture demanded more words: quiet, controlled, aloof, businesslike, removed, unemotional, cool.
For Baker Mayfield, whose place Murray took at OU, telling you about the game, what he thought about it as it happened and what he thought after it happened was part of the experience. Mayfield enjoyed his time with the media not so much because he enjoyed the media, but because he enjoyed the whole college quarterbacking ball of wax and that was part of it.
For Murray, it felt like a chore.
It’s hard to know if he needs counseling, maturity or simply more experience to become a supreme, even Hall of Fame, franchise quarterback, because that’s exactly what the Cardinals want him to be.
Probably, Murray really was feeling like a scapegoat. He may have known, deep down, he deserved it. No offense led by Kyler Murray should score only 11 points against anybody.
But he’s not the kind of guy to talk about it, to work it out in public view, to acknowledge it in real time; nor is he the guy to go to his agent or PR team, hoping to build a narrative in opposition to whatever it was that was bothering him so much.
Instead, all signs point toward him being the kind of guy who might, first, project the incoming artillery into something greater than it was and, second, without anybody’s counsel, clumsily respond to that projection.
Evidence in that direction is Murray’s tweeted non-apology apology.
Read it and you know it’s not the polished work of a PR team. What it sounds like are the unfiltered thoughts of a proud 24-year-old trying to get his arms around the firestorm he, himself, needlessly created.
Murray’s note was late in coming, but if tardiness is the price of authenticity, so be it.
I like Murray, too.
Seems to me, whatever it is that makes him hold everything so tightly may serve him as a performer, yet works against him as a leader, which remains his last mountain to climb.
Maybe he’ll look into it.