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Kyler Murray says it’s ‘disrespectful’ to think he doesn’t study film

“I’m honestly flattered that you all think that at my size, I can go out there and not prepare for the game, and not take it serious,” Arizona's Kyler Murray, shown last week, told reporters Thursday. (Rick Scuteri/AP)

Kyler Murray was not scheduled to speak with the media Thursday, but after several days of coverage — much of it unflattering — about the “independent study” clause in his contract, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback felt it was time to have his say.

In remarks that were uncharacteristically lengthy and impassioned for the normally reserved player, Murray took issue with suggestions that he didn’t spend enough time honing his craft.

“I refuse to let my work ethic, my preparation, be in question,” the 24-year-old told reporters at the Cardinals’ facility.

“To think that I can accomplish everything that I have accomplished in my career and not be a student of the game, and not have that passion and not take this serious,” Murray added, “is disrespectful, and it’s almost a joke.”

Murray was clearly agitated over the reaction to news that emerged Monday regarding a clause in his recent $230.5 million contract extension, including $160 million in guaranteed money. As first noted by the NFL Network, amid the contract language was an unusual section requiring Murray to complete four hours of “independent study” each week during the Cardinals’ season. The study was expected to be completed “in good faith,” and Murray was not to get credit if he were concurrently “engaged in any other activity that may distract his attention (for example, watching television, playing video games or browsing the internet).”

Buckner: Kyler can’t play today, guys. He’s got to finish his homework.

Later Thursday, the Cardinals announced they had removed the much-noted clause.

“It was clearly perceived in ways that were never intended,” the team said. “Our confidence in Kyler Murray is as high as it’s ever been and nothing demonstrates our belief in his ability to lead this team more than the commitment reflected in this contract.”

In the days before, 2021 comments from Murray surfaced in which he told the New York Times, “I think I was blessed with the cognitive skills to just go out there and just see it before it happens. 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 and that team and watch every game because, in my head, I see so much.”

On Thursday, Murray scoffed at the notion that he might be so gifted that he has no need for film study. Referring to the fact that, at a listed 5-foot-10, he is one of the shortest starting quarterbacks in recent NFL history, he said, “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. It’s disrespectful, I feel like, to my peers, to all the great athletes and great players that are in this league.

“This game is too hard. To play the position that I play in this league, it’s too hard.”

Murray also took it upon himself to “list the accolades” he has earned over the years, including leading his Texas high school team to a 43-0 record, winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma and getting selected ninth overall in the 2018 MLB draft in addition to going first overall in the 2019 NFL draft.

Alluding again to his relatively diminutive physical stature, he told reporters, “I’m already behind the eight-ball, and I can’t afford to take any shortcuts — no pun intended.”

Murray, who also pointed out he earned Associated Press offensive rookie of the year honors in 2019 and two Pro Bowl selections, went on to assert that while it was “a given” that he watched film on his own time, there were “many different ways to process the game.”

“I do enjoy and love the process of watching the game with my guys — the quarterbacks, my coaches,” he said. “I think you can ask any quarterback in the league — the camaraderie in that room, the passion that goes into it, every man in that room has a job, every man contributes in different ways.”

Earlier in the week, Cardinals Coach Kliff Kingsbury and some teammates came to Murray’s defense.

“When I watched what he’s done since he got here, the first year and his development in all areas,” the coach said, “all he’s done is gotten dramatically better each and every year. That’s what I judge it by.”

“Kyler knows the playbook better than anyone on this team,” Arizona tight end Zach Ertz said Tuesday.

“There is a fine line, in my opinion, in watching too much film and trying to overanalyze things and playing fast,” added the 10th-year veteran, who was traded to the Cardinals last year. “Each and every player has to find their own process.”

Calling Murray “a hard worker,” Cardinals safety Budda Baker said Tuesday, “Guys are all different. Some guys like to stay at the facility and watch film, some guys like to watch film not on their team-issued iPads [but] in their big [meeting] rooms. Some guys at home.

“He just got paid, so everything is good. All he thinks about is football, anyway.”

According to the Arizona Republic, Murray declined to comment Thursday when asked follow-up questions on whether he was upset about the independent study clause or had tried to push back on it before signing his contract.

In his initial address to the media, the quarterback pointed to the “incomprehensible amount of time, blood, sweat, tears and work” he had put into his athletic career.

“People can’t even comprehend the amount of time that it takes to do two sports at a high level in college, let alone be the first person to do it ever at my size,” Murray said. “Like I said, it’s funny, but to those of you out there that believe I would be standing here today in front of y’all without having a work ethic and without preparing, I’m honored that you think that. But it doesn’t exist. It’s not possible.”