Kyler Murray and I were supposed to talk about Call of Duty, but the rigors of the NFL season narrows the time to game once the weeks hit double digits. Murray, who regularly streams Call of Duty and as an avid Warzone fan, mentioned several times during our talk that he plays “every day,” but what he seemed to mean was “normally.” In the offseason, that is, not when the second year quarterback is doing everything he can to get the Arizona Cardinals to the postseason.
That means a focus on football, the sport he determined to play after a well-documented flirtation with baseball. So far, that move has been a wise one, as he’s thrived under (or several yards behind) center in his first two seasons as a pro. An electrifying passer and runner, Murray has justified the hopes of Cardinals brass by embracing the quarterback position and delivering breathtaking plays and miraculous last-ditch victories this season alone.
He wasn’t very interested in talking about miracles on Monday, though. His Cardinals had just lost on a last-second field goal on a rainy day in Western Massachusetts, dropping Arizona to 6-5 on the year. Football season is the busy time of year for Murray, of course, and it’s hard not to let the weekly results stay with you when they don’t go your way.
Two weeks ago, Murray pulled off what will likely be the play of the year this NFL season: a last-second Hail Mary to DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone to beat the Buffalo Bills. But success in football is fleeting, and the next two games were close losses for the Cardinals that made joy of improbable victory short-lived.
But in talking with Uproxx Sports, he had some interesting things to say about what you can learn from losing, his interest in gaming and maybe even Esports and what year two in the NFL has been like for one of the most exciting players in the game.
— Kyler Murray (@K1) November 14, 2020
I know you’re right in the middle of the season but I know you’re a huge Warzone fan and wanted to see if you had a chance to play Cold War yet?
I usually play every day. I haven’t really gotten a chance to play the new one, but I play Warzone every day. I just haven’t dove into Cold War yet.
What do you think it is about Call of Duty and maybe Warzone in particular that is so attractive to athletes? I think other than sports sims like NBA 2K and Madden, this is the game I hear guys talking about more than anything else.
Honestly, I think it’s just the camaraderie. It’s a fun game for everybody to play. Me and my boys play every day, we have a friendly competition but at the same time it’s a thing everybody gets to do together. So I think that’s why everybody loves it so much.
Do you have a gaming setup you bring on the road with you? I know especially this season there’s a lot of downtime when you travel to road games, do you bring a system with you?
Nah. Especially with COVID, obviously in the hotel that’s all we can do so that would be a good time to. But me playing quarterback, I don’t ever bring the system unfortunately.
What have you been spending your time with on the road? Are you finding new hobbies or reading more or really just focusing on game plans and the task at hand?
Obviously we’re in the thick of the season and every game matters. Unfortunately we just lost yesterday, obviously. But for me, you know, I play quarterback so my time is spent more so just game plan, taking care of my body, eating right. Then off the field, whoever I have time, all I can do is really game and sit in the house.
This offseason has been one of the weirder in recent memory, but for you it was the first where you only had football to focus on. Did that ability to focus help things this summer?
As far as like the play?
Yeah, in prepping for a season. You didn’t have to worry about baseball or anything but playing for the Cardinals. I was wondering if you noticed a difference in your offseason with just one thing to focus on?
Yeah, like you said, this was really my first offseason to really focus on football with playing other sports, which I think was good for me. I also think the natural maturation of going into year two, having played all 16 games last year, seeing all the things I probably could have saw in my rookie year. Having lots of ups and downs, going into this year, I think there was expected to be a jump. I know me, personally, I expected to be a lot better and I think we have been a lot better. Obviously, like I said, we’re in the thick of the season. We’ve kind of let a couple slip that we thought we should have won. But, individually, I’ve played a lot better than I did last year. But I expected to, obviously, going into year two. It was another year to grow and get better.
I wanted to ask about your wideouts. You’re playing with Larry Fitzgerald, who has been a longtime NFL vet. Is there anything you’ve learned from him that’s helped you make that leap in year two?
Fitz, he’s like a big brother. He doesn’t really kind of school me on the field, he kinda knows I have that natural feel for the game. I love the game. He more so, everything he tries to teach me has been off the field. And I think that’s just a testament to the type of guy that he is.
Comfort when you’re a young quarterback is so important, that ability to trust who you’re throwing to will make a play for you. Obviously you got a big boost with Deandre Hopkins this year, and I’m thinking about the Hail Mary against the Bills a few weeks back. Does it change your confidence in that kind of play knowing you have a guy like Hopkins to throw it to?
Yeah, I mean, me personally I think he’s the best in the league. He’s one of those guys that you just have to give him a chance, put the ball anywhere in his vicinity and good things happen. Acquiring him, it changes the whole dynamic of our offense. We got a lot better the day we got him, so I’m glad he’s on my team.
When a play like that happens, I know everyone always asks ‘What is your reaction?’ But it’s been a bit of time now, have you been able to reflect on how improbable it was or was it easy to sort of just move on to the next game?
Honestly, it was a quick turnaround. We really didn’t have much of a choice but to get over it because we played the Seahawks that next Thursday. So, that’s a divisional game and that was a crucial game that obviously we came up short in. We didn’t get time to dwell on it or really soak it in. It kind of just happened, and I was just as surprised as probably everybody watching it was. But it’s obviously a cool deal.
For this year’s @NFL #MyCauseMyCleats I teamed up with @CODE4Vets in honor of my late grandfather, a veteran and Purple Heart recipient. I know he’d be proud of the work the Endowment is doing to help veterans find meaningful jobs.🙏🏾 #CallofDuty_Partner pic.twitter.com/mGfvUU41QS
— Kyler Murray (@K1) December 4, 2020
You’re taking part in the My Cause, My Cleats campaign for the NFL and I wanted to ask about the design you picked. You’re working with the Call of Duty Endowment and I know you said it was in part because of your grandfather.
My initial reason, like you said, my grandfather served in the army and the navy. He was close to me, close to my mother. And the Call of Duty Endowment charity helps veterans secure high-quality jobs after their service, which is hard to find. So that was the main reason why.
I wanted to ask about doing these sort of promotional things and work during your pro career. Have you gotten used to this kind of stuff or has the pandemic made it a bit different this year?
Yeah, I’ve done a couple things throughout this season and having to do everything through Zoom and not being able to meet or talk to people in person, it’s all been different. I think everybody had to be very versatile through this time, but we all understand the circumstances and the challenges. But it’s been fun, it’s been weird but like I said, it’s a unique situation and I’ve just tried to make the most of it.
I wanted to ask about the Cardinals and this season. You’ve been one of the more exciting teams in the league to watch. How satisfying has it been to work with Kliff Kingsbury and put in place a system that’s maybe defied some expectations among NFL skeptics?
Yeah, man, you’re catching me at a bad time because we started off hot and now, like I said, we’ve let a couple games slip away that we feel we should have won. I’ll tell you this: it’s not easy to win in this league. Like you said as far as the offense being exciting the team being exciting, we have a lot of great talent, a lot of great coaches, a lot of great guys in the locker room. But as of late, we’ve just gotta find a way to finish. I guess as far as excitement goes, I definitely think we’re one of the more exciting teams in the league, but that doesn’t matter much in my eyes.
OK, this is the part of the interview where I reveal that I’m a Buffalo Bills fan.
Obviously that Hail Mary was tough for me, but I have to say it’s one thing I’ve learned is when you have a player on your team who can do something like that, losing games in tough ways somehow feels better because you feel like you can win games like that, too. I wonder if that same thing translates into the locker room, too? When you know you have a talented team, when you know you have great players, is it easier to bounce back from tough losses because you feel you can do the same thing to other teams?
Man, honestly no. The close ones sting the most. Like yesterday, just the way the game kinda turned out, I don’t know if you got to watch it or see it. That stings. Then you have to get on a five hour flight back to Arizona and all you’re thinking about is the loss and maybe what we could have done differently.
And obviously the Bills were in the same boat. They had 45 seconds, you think you have the game wrapped up and we throw a Hail Mary. Hop catches it, and then they’re on a five hour flight back to Buffalo. So it’s crazy how the game works.
Is there something to learn from that? I know there’s always a cliche that you can learn from tough losses, but is that true? Or is it just something to endure, and you overcome it and try again next time? Are there actual lessons to find in losing?
Man, I’m not a big fan of losing. I will say I think there are in some cases. I think you have to learn from every loss, but not make it a thing. I don’t want to make losing a thing. But I guess you can say there’s something to learn from a loss.
I wanted to ask about Warzone again. Any favorite modes or guys you like to hook up with? Any teammates that are good?
Yeah, Warzone is my favorite if we’re talking Battle Royale. But if it’s multiplayer, I grew up playing Search and Destroy.
As far as teammates, Chase Edmonds, he’s good. Christian Kirk, Chandler Jones. We got a lot of Warzone players, or Call of Duty players on my team. So we all like to talk crap to each other.
Have you taken any interest in Call of Duty League or ever thought about investing in esports? I know a number of athletes that are big gamers have taken that step.
Oh, for sure. We might have something on the way that I can’t really speak on yet, but in the offseason I play every day. If I wasn’t an athlete, I’d probably be a gamer.