Cardinals Bow To Audience, Remove Independent Study Clause From Kyler’s Contract

He's a gamer.

He’s a gamer.
Image: Getty Images

When Kyler Murray signed his $230.5 million contract extension last Monday, it seemed like the disputes that plagued the Cardinals off-season were finally over. Until the public started watching Murray’s contract details. Within minutes it was revealed that the contract contained a “independent study clause’, requiring the former No. 1 overall pick to study film for a minimum of four hours a week prior to each regular-season matchup.

The assumption was that this clause was intended to prevent Murray from simply playing video games all day, every day. Aside from his football and baseball skills, Murray is also known in the esports realm for his dominance in games like Fortnite and… okay, mostly Fortnite. He’s a member of FaZe Clan, and an investor for over a year now. He regularly participates in online streamer bowls, and has together with famous streamers like Tfue for various tournaments. The point is, Murray likes video games. Who can blame him? They are great.

That said, the fact that the Cardinals felt it necessary to include a study clause in Murray’s contract suggests that Murray likes video games more than he lets on. He gets paid millions of dollars to win zero playoffs in his career, and this clause implied that he couldn’t even bother to watch game movies about his upcoming opponents. Social media had a field day with this revelation and Murray was embarrassed.

Immediately after realizing how public perception of him had changed, Murray told reporters that he hated the clause (even though he thought it was totally cool that it was in his contract until the public found out) and that he “refuses to question his work ethic.” But here’s the thing, by going ballistic on reporters and demanding that the clause be removed from his contract, Murray only reinforced the public’s perception of him. At least Murray’s reaction flashed signs of uncertainty about his commitment to football.

I don’t care about anything else he said about how “disrespectful” it is to think he could go out on his own and have the same success he experienced without being a student of the game because at the end of the day, we’ve seen things like that happen before.

Michael Vick once famously said that he “never read a defense.” There was even a report in 2011, where a then-starting 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 studies. Despite all that, Vick was considered one of the most explosive players in the game. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, finishing in the top five twice in MVP voting, and was also twice in the top five in the Offensive Player of the Year voting. He had also made it to the playoffs four times, winning two games. That’s far more than Murray can claim to have accomplished, so if Vick could do it, why couldn’t Murray? You could argue that Murray is too small10) compared to Vick (6-foot), but the difference is not great.

The fact is, if the cardinals didn’t see the need to include that clause in the contract, they wouldn’t have done so. Also, let’s not forget that Murray was totally cool with having the clause in the contract until the public found out and twisted it.

Following Murray’s protests, the Cardinals made a public statement saying they would remove the clause from Murray’s contract altogether.

But why? Because fans laughed at it? That’s weak, Arizona. Both parties were clearly fine with the clause being included. It clearly didn’t force Murray into such dedication and it gave the front office some peace of mind. The only problem was that Murray was fooled and couldn’t handle the heat.

Dude… grow up. You get paid more money than most people will ever see in their lifetime. You are usually looked at fondly for having made some smart financial decisions since you left Oklahoma. Sure, you might not have a playoff win yet, but neither do Justin Herbert or Daniel Jones or Sam Darnold. No one is calling you a failure now. You have some things to prove, but making a huge fuss about people who supposedly misinterpret part of your contract doesn’t extinguish those fires, but ignite them. I guarantee that every time Murray tries to stream now, there will be someone in his chat saying, “Have you done your homework?” or “Did Kliff get this gaming session right?” or “Go back to your independent studies!” If Murray just took this clause to heart and went through with it, I guarantee he would have disappeared. Instead, it’s been completely removed, leading some people to assume that even four hours of film study was too much work for him. He could have handled this so much better.

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