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Was Kyler Murray Right In Choosing Football?

Last September, FanWide asked if there would ever be another multi-sport star? The gold standards in this regard have long been the inimitable Bo Jackson and the flashy Deion Sanders. Russell Wilson and Tim Tebow have tried to join the club, with mixed results. Usain Bolt looked decent on the pitch when he gave soccer a shot, but a contract dispute prevented him from fully pursuing what might have become an interesting career. And then, of course, there was Michael Jordan, whose brief foray into baseball didn’t exactly pan out.

The reason we’re revisiting this idea now is Kyler Murray, who was mentioned in the previous article mentioned above and was just drafted first overall in the NFL Draft. The Oklahoma quarterback made his mark on sports history when he was selected, becoming the first athlete to be drafted in the first round of both the NFL and MLB drafts. He was picked ninth overall in the MLB Draft just 10 months ago, by the Oakland Athletics. Following that selection, Murray received permission from Oakland management to play out his senior year in college football and certainly made the most out of the opportunity. In his final season, he totaled 5,362 yards and 54 touchdowns and was awarded the Heisman Trophy.

The world will never know what would have come to be had Kyler Murray stuck to baseball. Photo courtesy of ESPN.com.

This stunning season was all Murray needed to give up the diamond for the gridiron. Murray opted to enter the NFL Draft (forfeiting most of his MLB signing bonus in the process), and sure enough, the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the top overall pick. Along the way, though, many questioned Murray’s decision – among them the great Joe Theismann. Himself a former quarterback, Theismann argued that the 21-year-old would find football life difficult. “I think that he should choose baseball,” Theismann said. “I think that he would struggle in the NFL.” Theismann also questioned Murray’s height, as well as his ability to pass from the pocket under heavy pressure.

But are such questions fair? Will Murray indeed regret his decision to choose football over baseball? That’s a possibility, yes. Then again, it’s also far from a sure thing. The NFL has seen plenty of draft busts, from Paxton Lynch and Johnny Manziel recently, to Matt Leinart and Jake Locker years back. But there have also been plenty of success stories, and players who have thrived despite legitimate doubts and concerns. Russell Wilson, who as mentioned also flirted with two different professional sports, is a good example of the latter. Incidentally, he happens to be perhaps the strongest comparison to Murray among current NFL quarterbacks. The two are similarly sized, both are exceptionally mobile for the position, and both faced questions because of relatively small stature and vaguely unconventional style.

Unlike Murray’s detractors, Wilson himself believes the former Sooner can succeed on the gridiron. “Kyler’s one of those players that can electrify a football field,” Wilson has said of Murray. “I think he can also do the same thing in baseball too. I think no matter what he decides, he’ll do great.”

One thing Murray has going for him is that there seems to be a place now for mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. Wilson, again, is a prime example. And though they’re all bigger, the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, the Panthers’ Cam Newton, and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson, in addition to a few others, also use their legs about as well as their arms. In other words, Murray won’t necessarily be an outlier in the league; he might, in fact, be perfect for where the pro game is headed. Plenty of teams appear to be making an effort – sometimes by way of college-inspired offensive sets – to implement a more free-flowing, high-scoring style of play. This at least creates an environment in which Murray is positioned to succeed.

Murray is also more than “just” a running quarterback. He has a cannon of an arm, perfect for throwing deep balls and hitting tight windows, and all without sacrificing his deadly accuracy. Really, he passes every bit as well as he runs, and that’s exactly the requisite combination for a good quarterback in today’s game. On top of that, Murray also has a reputation for playing smart. He reads a game well, limits turnovers, and seems to have an inherent feel for the moment.

Another point in favor of a successful transition to the NFL is that Murray will be playing for former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, someone well-versed in using a dual-threat QB. Kingsbury’s protégé at Tech, Patrick Mahomes, was the NFL’s MVP last season, and it stands to reason that the rookie coach will be able to harness Murray’s physical gifts, too – this time at the pro level. (Not for nothing, Kingsbury actually tried to recruit Murray in college!) In all likelihood, the new head coach will be looking to install a high-octane offense with the Cardinals, and thus take full advantage of Murray’s natural skillset.

Despite a difficult 2018 season, Cardinals fans have high hopes for their new star QB. Photo courtesy of azcardinals.com.

Aside from the tired questions about his size, the only real strike against Murray might just be the current state of the Cardinals. The team was woeful last season, winning just three games. Even if Murray is as good as advertised, odds for the upcoming NFL season are going to spell doom for the Cardinals. Indeed, it’s a good bet that even five or six wins will be a stretch. It’s simply going to take more than a rookie quarterback (and some other interesting draft picks) to turn this franchise around. The question may become how well Murray his able to handle what’s likely to be a lot of losing in the early going. If he can overcome adversity, focus on his own game, and do his part for a sustainable rebuild, he’ll be well on his way to a successful season. If it gets to him, and he starts to press or lose his edge, questions about long-term viability will arise quickly.

There is no doubt that Kyler Murray’s NFL journey will be one of the league’s biggest storylines. As to whether or not he picked the right sport, only time will tell. All we know for certain is that he’s talented enough to have earned the decision, and we should certainly give him a chance to thrive with his choice.

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Top NFL Teams: #2 Dallas Cowboys

Coming in at number 2 in FanWide’s Top 10 NFL Team rankings is America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys. Currently, the Cowboys have one of the youngest and most explosive offenses in the entire National Football League. Their young nucleus consists of quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, and wide receiver Amari Cooper. On the defensive side of the field, The ‘Boyz are loaded with playmakers such as defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence, linebacker Jaylon Smith, and safety Byron Jones. With this talented core, the Cowboys were able to win the NFC East and advance to the NFC divisional round in 2018. While the Cowboys have been successful as of late, their historical success truly separates them from every other NFL team. The Cowboys have won a whopping 35 playoff games and 5 Super Bowls. America’s team is home to countless NFL greats such as Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Tony Dorsett. Playing for America’s team comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility. This young and talented Cowboy roster is more than capable to handle these enormous expectations.

Dallas Cowboy fans celebrating / Photo Courtesy of the SCDCFC Interview on FanWide
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Top NFL Teams: #3 New England Patriots

At #3 in FanWide’s Top NFL teams ranking is the New England Patriots. The Patriots have been the epitome of success for the better-part of the 21st century. Recently, the Patriots, otherwise known as the Pats, have had an incredibly high success rate. In this decade the patriots have a regular-season winning percentage of 74%. What New England has done is unlike anything else in sports. The New England Patriots were the laughing stock in the NFL in the 1980s, but quite a lot has changed. The Pats have created a dynasty like no other in which a playoff win seems to be guaranteed every year along with a Super Bowl appearance. The reason for the Patriots’ recent success is because of the brilliance of head coach Bill Belichick, the magnificence of future-hall-of-famer Tom Brady, and caring owner in Robert Kraft. Many may hate the Patriots for their cheating allegations, but no person can take away the dominance and greatness from the Patriots in the 21st century. Tom Brady is still going strong at 41 years old, along with the Patriots’ chances of winning.

Patriots fans in Houston, Texas celebrating after a big play.

Photo Courtesy of the Boston Globe

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Top NFL Teams: #4 Pittsburgh Steelers

Coming in at number 4 in FanWide’s Top 10 NFL Team rankings is the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers, also known as the Black and Gold, have a history like no other. The Steelers have won six Super Bowls and have had a lot of star-power since the dominance in the 1970s. Superstars such as Joe Greene, Franco Harris, James Harrison, and Ben Roethlisberger are the backbone of the Steelers’ special legacy. The Steelers have always been known as a team of toughness and grit, and that will always be their reputation in the NFL. The Steelers have the second strongest fan base according to FanWide and one that is very loyal. The Steelers have lost two superstars in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, but there tenacious play will continue. Do not be surprised if the Steelers make a deep run in the playoffs this season.

Photo courtesy of steelersbars.com

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Top NFL Teams: #5 Philadelphia Eagles

Coming in at number 5 in FanWide’s Top 10 NFL Team rankings is the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have a very storied past which includes many Super Bowl appearances and NFL legends. Superstars such as Reggie White, Brian Dawkins, and Randall Cunningham played with pride for the Green and White and will forever be remembered by the NFL community. These players set the tone for future Eagles players and fans. The Eagles play with a certain type of swagger and fury that is unprecedented in the NFL. This mindset extends to the bleachers. The Eagles have one of the most loyal and hardcore fan bases in the NFL and are always cheering for their team from Eagles game watch parties around the country, which is why it made FanWide’s list.

Photo courtesy of philly2hoboken.com
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Top NFL Teams: #6 New York Giants

Placing number 6 in FanWide’s Top 10 NFL Team rankings is the New York Giants. While the Giants have disappointed as of late, their future looks very bright. General manager David Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur are building a young and elite offense around superstar running back Saquon Barkley and two time Super Bowl MVP winner Eli Manning. In addition, the Giants are in a great position to add more young stars to their roster through the NFL Draft. Due to the recent trade of Odell Beckham Jr, the G-Men now find themselves with two picks in the first round. The Giants are in prime position to draft their quarterback of the future in either Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins or to add defensive center pieces such as Quinnen Williams, Montez Sweat, or Rashan Gary.  The Giants roster will continue to improve before the start of the 2019 NFL regular season.

New York Giant fans celebrating before a game | Photo courtesy of CBS New York
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Top NFL Teams: #7 San Francisco 49ers

Coming in at #7 in the FanWide Top NFL Teams Ranking are the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers, also known as the Bay Bombers, have a history like no other. The 49ers have had two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history in Joe Montana and Steve Young. In addition, the Niners have also had two of the best receivers in NFL history in Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens. The star power of Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Ronnie Lott are essential in why the 49ers have won five Super Bowls. Those five Super Bowls were all won between a thirteen year period (1981-1994). The Bay Bombers have a fan base like no other, considering the fans are still as passionate today as they were in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Even though the past five seasons for the 49ers have been underwhelming, the wit of Kyle Shanahan and the talent of Jimmy Garoppolo will scare many opponents in this upcoming season.

49ers fans go crazy as their team makes a game-changing play. | Photo courtesy Sandiegouniontribune

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Top NFL Teams: #8 Chicago Bears

At #8 in FanWide’s Top NFL Teams Ranking is the Chicago Bears. The Bears seem to never be forgotten when mentioning the top NFL teams. The Bears, otherwise known as the Monsters of the Midway, have a history like no other. Since the Bears’ establishment in 1920, the Bears have had quite a lot of success. The Monsters of the Midway have a record of 761-583-42. That is a respectable percentage of victory of 56.4%. This dominance has been seen through the presence of legends like Walter Payton, Gayle Sayers, Mike Ditka, George Halas, and Sid Luckman. The Bears dominance, although lost in recent years, has been restored due to the acquisition of all-pro linebacker Khalil Mack. Although the 2018 season ended on a sour note for the Bears, Bears fans have a lot to look forward to. The Bears have a solid foundation with a more-than-legitimate quarterback and a ferocious defense.

 

Bears fans smile as their team exerts their power on other opponents| Photo courtesy of 710 Beach Club.
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Top NFL Teams: #9 Denver Broncos

At #9 in the FanWide Top NFL Teams Ranking is the Denver Broncos. This team seems to always be around in January. The Broncos have had two of the best quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. When John Elway was the starting quarterback for the Broncos he was a part of many people who changed the culture in Denver. Since then, the same culture has been in place. In fact, Denver’s winning culture is so special, Peyton Manning decided to go to Denver at the tail-end of his career. The kings of the Mile High have won three super bowls, and more importantly have fans that are incredibly loyal. Although the Broncos had a season of disappointment in 2018, there is a lot to look forward to in Denver considering the Broncos just recently acquired past Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco.

Broncos Fans in Austin, Texas gathering for a big game. | Photo courtesy of thelocalpubandpatio
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Top NFL Teams: #10 Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks come in at #10 in the FanWide Top 10 NFL team ranking. The Seattle Seahawks are a well rounded team who have found successful recently. They are the winners of Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 which Russell Wilson, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, and the “Legion of Boom” willed them towards victory with FanWide’s own brand ambassador Cliff Avril starting the game with a sack.  Many of the players on the Super Bowl winning roster are still playing for the Seahawks today. While the Seahawks were unable to advance past the wild card round this past season, no NFL team ever wants to face them come playoff time. Around the league, the Seattle Seahawks are known for their crazy fan base which is commonly referred to as the 12th Man. The Seahawks’ fanbase is always loud and excited regardless of the rainy weather. While most of the Seahawks’ success occurred recently, they have still had some NFL greats in the past. Players such as Shaun Alexander and Steve Largent played major roles for the Seahawks in the past. While they only have one Super Bowl to celebrate, their future provides hope for Seahawks fans. With perennial Pro Bowler Russell Wilson returning along with a dominant defense their second Super Bowl appears to be on the horizon.

Seattle Seahawks fans celebrating their Super Bowl win. | Photo courtesy of RantSports