When Kyler Murray signed his $230.5 million contract extension this past Monday, it seemed as though the disputes that plagued the Cardinals’ offseason were finally behind them. Until the public started looking into Murray’s contract details. Within minutes, it was revealed that the contract included an “independent study clause,” requiring the former No. 1 overall pick to study film for at least four hours per week prior to every matchup during the regular season.
The assumption was that this clause was designed to prevent Murray from simply playing video games all day, every day. Aside from his football and baseball skills, Murray is also well-known in the esports domain for his dominance in games such as Fortnite and...okay, mainly Fortnite. He’s been a member of FaZe Clan, as well as an investor for more than a year now. He regularly participates in online streamer bowls, and has teamed up with famous streamers such as Tfue for several tournaments. The point is, Murray loves video games. Who can blame him? They’re great.
That said, the fact that the Cardinals felt it necessary to put a study clause in Murray’s contract suggests that Murray likes video games more than he’s letting on. He’s getting paid millions of dollars to have zero playoff wins in his career, and this clause implied that he couldn’t even be bothered to watch game film on his upcoming opponents. Social media had a field day with this revelation, and Murray was embarrassed.
Immediately after realizing how the public perception of him had shifted, Murray told reporters that he hated the clause (even though he was totally cool with it being in his contract until the public found out) and that he “refuses to let his work ethic be questioned.” Here’s the thing though, by going ballistic on reporters and demanding the clause be stricken from his contract, Murray only reinforced the perceptions that the public had of him. If anything, Murray’s reaction flashed signs of insecurity regarding his commitment to football.
I don’t care about everything else he said, about how it’s “disrespectful” to think he could go out there at his size and have the same success he’s experienced without being a student of the game, because at the end of the day, we’ve seen that kind of thing happen before.
Michael Vick once famously said that he’d “never read a defense.” A report even came out in 2011, where a then-rookie offensive lineman reaffirmed this claim. That was eight seasons into Vick’s career and he never read a defense, which means he probably didn’t do much film study. Despite all that, Vick was considered one of the most explosive players in the game. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, finished top-five in MVP voting twice, and was top-five in Offensive Player of the Year Voting twice as well. He’d also been to the playoffs four times and won two games. That’s far more than Murray can claim he’s accomplished, so if Vick could do it, why can’t Murray? You could make the argument that Murray is too small (5-foot-10) compared to Vick (6-foot), but the difference isn’t huge.
The fact is, if the Cardinals didn’t feel it necessary to put that clause in the contract, they wouldn’t have. Let’s also not forget that Murray was totally cool with having the clause in the contract until the public discovered it and twisted it.
After Murray’s outcries, the Cardinals made a public statement saying that they were eliminating the clause from Murray’s contract altogether.
But why? Because fans laughed at it? That’s weak, Arizona. Both parties were obviously fine with having the clause in there. It clearly wasn’t forcing that much of a commitment from Murray, and it gave the front office some peace of mind. The only issue was that Murray got made fun of, and couldn’t handle the heat.
Dude...grow up. You’re getting paid more money than most people will ever see in their lifetime. You’re mostly looked at fondly, having made a number of smart financial decisions since leaving Oklahoma. Sure, you may not have a playoff win under your belt yet, but neither does Justin Herbert or Daniel Jones, or Sam Darnold. Nobody is calling you a bust right now. You have some stuff to prove, but making a giant fuss out of people supposedly misconstruing a section of your contract doesn’t quell those fires, rather it ignites them. I guarantee every time Murray tries to stream now, there will be somebody in his chat saying “Did you do your homework?” or “Did Kliff OK this gaming sesh?” or “Get back to your independent studies!” If Murray just took this clause in stride and went with it, I guarantee it would’ve disappeared. Instead, it’s been removed entirely, making some people assume that even four hours of film study was too much work for him. He could’ve handled this so much better.