Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Imagine you’re a waiter at a nice restaurant. After a year on the job, you sit down with your boss for a performance review. “You’ve been outstanding,” she says. “The customers love you; everyone here loves you, you know the menu, you hustle, you’re great.”
You smile. You’ve always been confident in your ability as a waiter. You barely have to try, and you get more tips than anyone.
“There is one thing,” your boss interjects, as your smile begins to fade. “We’ve gotten a few complaints, and it's totally not a big deal, and I’m sorry I’m even bringing this up but…you have to stop farting around the restaurant.”
You now sit up straight. You didn’t think anyone had noticed. Sure, there were a couple loud ones, but nobody said anything. You’re sure of it. Was everybody staying silent this whole time?
“Don’t worry! We still love you,” your boss exclaims. “We want you to be here for a long time. We just need you to sign this contract saying that you’ll stop farting in front of the customers, and we’ll give you $160,000,000 guaranteed.”
Ok, so that scenario was a little over the top. $160 mil to a waiter is way over market-value. It looks like that also was too much money to give Kyler Murray.
Just a couple days ago, the 24-year-old Murray signed a contract-extension with the Arizona Cardinals that will make him one of the richest players in NFL history: $160 million guaranteed, a $29 million signing-bonus, $230.5 million over five years, and an average of $46.1 per year (eclipsed only by Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers).
In other words, he’s hit the jackpot. On second thought, the Mega Millions is at $1.1 billion, so maybe Murray should buy a few scratch-offs…just in case this football thing doesn’t work out.
Let me get back to my metaphor earlier. Remember the farting bit? That wasn’t just a childish attempt at humor, no. That was me doing my best to come up with a more absurd workplace request than what the Arizona Cardinals put in Kyler Murray’s contract. In between all the lines about life-changing money and generational wealth, a teensy-tiny clause explicitly demands the fourth-year quarterback put in four hours of independent study a week (bye-weeks excluded, thank goodness).
See what I mean? Now, if it wasn’t embarrassing enough that the entire world now knows that a person being paid almost a quarter of a billion dollars over the next five years to play football hasn’t been willing to put in a minimum level of independent study, can you imagine what the Cardinals front office must have thought when Murray finally got around to addressing the contract, saying:
“You 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.”
Disrespectful? Disrespectful to the guy who so obviously doesn’t prepare enough that the team that just made him one of the wealthiest athletes in the world felt compelled to include language in a negotiated contract that forces him to do homework like a fourth grader? Disrespectful to the guy whose contract includes $10 million in incentives just to show up for offseason workouts?
Murray disrespects himself. No NFL starter needs to be told to study independently. It comes with the territory.
Murray can try to deflect by drawing attention to his size in an effort to dismiss these concerns if he wants. No one is buying it. Yes, Murray isn’t the tallest QB in the league - at 5-10, he’s the shortest QB in the NFL. But at 207 lbs., and with pure speed and quickness that might only be surpassed by the incomparable Lamar Jackson, Murray is a Superball with a jetpack on.
Also, let’s keep in mind that four hours is nothing. How many hours of independent study do you think Peyton Manning did per week? Pat McAfee, former NFL punter and teammate of Manning’s on the Colts, said on his show this week that he asked Manning once how much film he reviewed in a week, and he guessed at least 20. Manning eats four-hour film sessions for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The only reason the Cardinals included language in a legally binding contract like that is because they couldn’t trust Murray to do the work on his own. Now, he has no choice but to prove them right. Otherwise, the $230.5 million he signed for might disappear like a fart in the wind.