DeMarco Murray came to Tennessee after a disappointing run in Philadelphia with Chip Kelly and his up-tempo offense. Murray’s time south of the Mason-Dixon line has so far been fruitful, with a resurgent year from the former Oklahoma and Cowboys standout. In their new “exotic smashmouth offense,” the Titans running back has amassed 1,043 yards and 8 touchdowns in 12 games, much the glee of fantasy owners.
Uproxx contributor Peter Bukowski sat down with Murray at the opening of a new adidas store in Midtown Manhattan to talk sneaker culture in the NFL, quarterback leadership styles, and his new Titans team.
Peter Bukowski: Shoes and gear are a huge part of NBA culture. Why do you think it’s not the same with the NFL?
DeMarco Murray: I think a big part of it is we only travel once a week. In the NBA, those guys travel three or four times a week so you’re going to see them walking in and out of the stadiums. And they make a lot more money than us, so they can afford the flash.
Are there still sneaker wars in the locker room? People talking about who has the new Jordans?
Yeah, but I wear adidas. I don’t wear any Jordans. It’s kinda not my deal, but guys are always talk about Jordans and whatnot.
Is it a struggle to breakout and have that individuality? You look at Russell Westbrook; every time he walks into the arena, it’s on TNT, it’s on ESPN, it’s on Instagram.
I think for us, we are a little bit more… we are always dressed in suits. So for us, there are only so many suit combinations you can wear. Some guys do it in the off time or in the offseason doing red carpets, but I mean for me it’s home game sport coat. If it’s an away game, I’m in suit and tie.
So we’re not going to see you in a Cam Newton hat?
No, no. I don’t do the hats. I don’t do anything crazy. I keep it low key.
Coming into the year there was a lot of talk about the “exotic smashmouth” and what the offense was going to look like. It seems like over the course of the year as Marcus Mariota has evolved, the offense has evolved with it. Are you happy with the evolution of the offense and specifically with Mariota?
I am extremely happy. You definitely wish you could get a couple games back early in the season. But I think where we are now, we’re starting to click as an offense and as a team, we’re playing well. Marcus is playing lights out the past six weeks. I think if he can continue to play like that and we can continue to run the ball, continue to block, if we do that we have a great chance to keep this thing going the next couple weeks.
One of the criticisms of Marcus coming out of Oregon was he was quiet, he was a little reserved. Does any of that manifest itself in a negative way?
No, that’s just his personality. My personality is the same way. You know, I been around (Tony) Romo and Romo is similar, maybe a little bit more talkative about certain things but he’s not a locker room clown or a loud guy.
Not a “rah rah” guy either?
No, not a “rah rah” guy. So, I’m used to it. I respect that because neither am I. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you play.
Do you think a quarterback has to be an outspoken leader? Because there’s been a lot of talk lately about Aaron Rodgers not being a “rah rah” guy but it seems like it’s worked for him over the course of his career.
Yeah, I think every guy has his own tools, and some guys lead by example and some guys are a little bit more vocal.
When you look at the team and where you are, do you feel like this is a playoff team?
I definitely believe we are a playoff team. I think we are headed in the right direction. You know, we have four games left and we have to take it one game at a time. I definitely think we’re headed in the right direction.
You have your partnership with adidas. Do you get involved with the design of the cleats?
They’ve kind of let me do my thing every year. I’m all white, block on bottom. That’s what I do. I don’t wear the pink or all that stuff. I’m sure they’d want to me, but I like to keep it clean, keep it simple. Every game I like to wear new cleats and they do a good job of letting me do that.
Kobe Bryant was notorious for wanting to go in and test and work and tweak on every aspect of his sneaker from performance to look, etc. Do you get into that part of it?
Yeah, they scan my feet every year. They do a great job with that.