GLENDALE — Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has not been one to voluntarily put himself in front of the microphone.
Yet there he was Thursday, doing a lot of things he normally does not do:
— Murray called an impromptu press conference
— He spoke in depth about himself and his accomplishments
— He mentioned his height and his past baseball career
— Murray grabbed control of a narrative that was used to attack his work ethic
None of those things have been on Murray’s radar in the first three years of being in the NFL, let alone in his wheelhouse. The criticism that stemmed from a clause in Murray’s new contract that said he was required to study on his own at least four hours every game week got to him, the quarterback admitted.
He called it “disrespectful.”
“I’m honestly flattered that y’all think that at my size, I can go out there and not prepare for the game and not take it serious,” Murray said. “It’s disrespectful to my peers … this game’s too hard. To play the position I play in this league, it’s too hard. I don’t do this often, I don’t talk about myself but today I have to. I’m going to list the accolades.”
Murray mentioned his spotless 43 games playing high school football in Texas and being the only player ever picked in the first round — and in the top-10 — in both the NFL and MLB drafts. Nobody has accomplished either of those things, he pointed out.
Playing two sports in college and, to this point in the NFL, making two Pro Bowls, takes effort and a work ethic.
“I refuse to let my work ethic, my preparation be in question,” Murray said.
Murray passed on commenting about how negotiations around that independent study clause went — or what he thought about it.
Many former NFL players and executives have said they’ve never seen such a clause in a contract, let alone one as massive as the reported $230.5 million Murray inked this past week before training camp for his fourth NFL season begins.
Among the many relatively new things Murray did Thursday, he mentioned his height and his baseball background, using them to respectfully make a point.
“I’m already behind the eight-ball and I can’t afford to take any short-cuts, no pun intended,” he said. “Those things you can’t accomplish if you don’t take the game serious, you don’t prepare the right way. Like I said, it’s laughable.”
And again, the quarterback stepped up to that microphone with assertiveness — but also politeness. Murray spoke about his excitement for camp and after speaking on the misconception of his work ethic took questions.
Murray pushed back that his reaction and assertiveness was a new thing.
“If this would have happened three years ago, I would have done the same thing,” he said.
To be fair, he also reacted in a similar way — though in the offseason via a statement — a day after the Super Bowl, when reports surfaced about discontent about his leadership.
This time, Murray made sure to shut down the narrative about how he operates as a professional, knowing full well a bad game could spring another wave of jokes about that curious contractual agreement.
Asked if the contract clause and the reaction to it would in any way change how he approaches football, Murray said this:
“No, no, no, no — no. We put in hours and hours of work. Like I said, I’m living out a childhood dream of mine that I don’t take for granted. … You never know when your last play is going to be. You never know. Tomorrow could be my last practice. For people to think I come out here and disrespect the game in that way, I feel like it would have … caught up with me.”
And you know what? He’s right.