The arrows began slinging in Kyler Murray’s direction the morning of Super Bowl 56 and they haven’t stopped since.
From the moment ESPN’s Chris Mortenson tweeted about the tension between Murray and the Cardinals regarding a contract extension and how the quarterback, according to unnamed sources, was a self-centered finger pointer who felt too much blame was placed on him for Arizona’s failed Wild Card appearance, it’s been “open season” on K1.
That’s how Dan Patrick, the longtime sportscaster and radio host of the Dan Patrick Show, recently described the constant barrage of criticism that has been aimed at Murray all year. It’s been unrelenting and it’s come from nearly every corner of the NFL.
Former NFL players such as Steve Young, Warren Sapp, LeSean McCoy, James Jones and Emmanuel Acho have all taken their shots. So have a gaggle of TV and radio commentators, from Colin Cowherd to Skip Bayless and from Dan Orlovsky to Stephen A. Smith and many, many more. Murray’s list of antagonists is as big as the pile of easy ammunition his critics can pluck off the top of the scrap heap.
He's selfish, they say. He’s overrated, they say. He doesn’t communicate well enough, we’re told. He’s this, he’s that and he’s everything else in between, except when he’s supposedly something else. Kyler Murray is like a human dart board – just aim and throw.
“People are always going to talk,” Cardinals left tackle Josh Jones said. “People are always going to say something. Ya’ll guys have to do ya’ll’s job. It’s a double-edge sword, that’s what this is. I feel like he’s handled it well. He’s been under a lot lately. It’s tough for him. I know it’s tough for him. He’s always been in the spotlight his entire career.
“He handles it pretty well, though. He’s a guy who just tries to go out there and win games and that’s what we’re all trying to do.”
The latest verbal attack on Murray came from a former teammate, Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson, who ripped him on a podcast one day last week only to come back, try to change his tune, and find a way to rip him some more when meeting with reporters.
Peterson’s remarks went from, “Kyler Murray don’t care about nobody but Kyler Murray,” to then saying he has no beef with Murray and that he can “see a ton of talent in him.” But then Peterson began talking about Murray’s body language after bad plays, saying, “Those mannerisms are alarming.”
“I’m just saying something that most people may be afraid to tell him,” Peterson went on. “It’s no secret. Everybody sees it. You see it every time they’re on television. You see Kyler Murray pouting, cursing out the head coach, calling out the offensive scheme. I didn’t say that. He did.”
In fairness to Murray, Peterson took some of those instances out of context and made them more than what they were. Even before that occurred, Murray felt compelled to clap back at Peterson on Twitter.
“This isn’t true…you on some weird (expletive) @p2,” Murray wrote. “You got my number, if you really felt this as a “big bro” or “mentor” you supposed to call me and tell me, not drag me so your podast can grow.”
Cardinals wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was the first to alert Murray of Peterson’s initial slam and when he saw it, Murray said he was “super shocked.” He said Wednesday he’s always felt he had a good relationship with Peterson. But now? Time will tell. The two haven’t talked privately about the situation and Murray sounded doubtful that they would.
“It is what it is,” Murray said of all the noise pointed in his direction. “You understand the position you’re in, what comes with it, what you have to face. I’m not really new to it. This is something I’ve been dealing with – not my whole life – but for the most part in my life. It doesn’t affect me.”
Murray said there are times when he gets extremely irritated, but he usually lets it go, saying, “I know who I am. I’m not really trippin’ about anything that comes my way. … Everybody’s going to tweet what they tweet. I’m sure every athlete has seen negative and positive stuff about them. We all have but you can’t let it affect you.”
Brown, who played with Murray in college at Oklahoma, said he’s puzzled why Murray seems to attract so much negativity from outside sources. Then again, Murray’s personality might invite it, he added.
“If you don’t know Kyler, he might come off wrong,” Brown said. “But Kyler’s one of the most loving people I know, one of the hardest-working people I know. … We know what he stands for. We know what type of guy he is. He didn’t need to (defend himself).”
Fellow receiver DeAndre Hopkins said he’s talked to Murray about the criticisms and added, “He knows we’ve got his back.”
So does coach Kliff Kingsbury, who thinks Murray has handled the noise well and gone about his business the right way. That doesn’t make it any easier for Kingsbury, though, when he keeps hearing the constant barbs about his quarterback.
“Yeah, anytime any of our players get criticized or have something come at them, I think as a coach you want to be offensive, and you want to have their backs,” he said. “But at the end of the day nobody outside of this building or our meeting room really knows the truth or knows who he is like we do, so I try not to pay too much attention to it.”
During one of his radio shows last week, Patrick openly wondered if Murray would still be getting dragged if the Cardinals were 8-4 instead of 4-8.
“Obviously last year when we were winning, people weren’t saying the stuff that they’re saying,” Murray said. “But it is what it is.”
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Cardinals QB undaunted by long line of critics