MLB or NFL? Kyler Murray Decision Isn’t Complicated
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray has until Jan. 14 to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner must decide on whether he wants to attempt to become a franchise quarterback, focus on MLB as a top prospect in the Oakland Athletics farm system, or—like the Taco Girl would say—“Why not both?”
Murray is on record claiming that he’d like to do both. Skeptics argue that playing both isn’t feasible. Their argument is that this isn’t similar to Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. Those players were balancing skill-positions with their baseball careers. Franchise quarterbacks require too much dedication. According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis:
There’s no shot. I just don’t see how that’s possible … as a hitter, you need at-bats. If he’s an NFL quarterback, he’s got to be in training camp in July. Well, how is that gonna work?” As a hitter, you need 500 at bats a year. I think a quarterback-hitter would be a disaster because you wouldn’t get enough at bats. You wouldn’t be devoting enough time to either (sport), it would probably be a disaster.
As far as money: Analysts are speculating about Murray as a potential first-round pick. In 2018, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was chosen at No. 32. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that his contract pays out $9.47 million with a $4.97 million signing bonus over four years. As the No. 9 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Murray agreed to a deal that includes a $4.66 million signing bonus.
So here we are. NFL or MLB? The general perception appears like Murray should choose MLB. These people doubt Murray’s NFL abilities as he’s only 5-foot-9. They feel a baseball career provides a greater chance at more guaranteed money (e.g. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado searching for $300 million contracts) along with a post-career filled with fewer medical bills.
Others feel as though his only logical choice is NFL. Football provides more international fame, possibly more guaranteed money upfront (depending on where he’s drafted), avoids the risk that he doesn’t advance in MiLB, and it’s a league whose focus on quarterback safety has flooded the league with star quarterbacks who are approaching or surpassed their age-40 seasons.
Another option is that Murray returns to Oklahoma for his senior season. This gives him the opportunity to spend an entire season in minor league baseball. Kyler’s father Kevin Murray did something similar. Kevin abandoned baseball after one unsuccessful year in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. He enrolled at Texas A&M and played quarterback.
Option No. 3 sounds clever. But what if he suffers a major injury or declined performance during his senior season? A possible 2019 first-rounder now becomes closer to 2020 Mr. Irrelevant with questions concerning his commitment. His value will never reach greater heights. Take advantage of it now. Don’t make this decision complicated.
Choose NFL or choose MLB? Choose baseball or choose football?
The answer is the ultimate cliche: choose LOVE. Murray should dedicate his time toward whichever sport he loves the most, especially if that sport is NFL. Whichever makes him happier.
Speaking of happier…SEVEN-SECOND DANCE BREAK!!!!!
Does Kyler Murray love one sport more than the other? He should imagine himself as an older individual. Ask himself whether or not participating in one of those sports would make him ponder “what if” more than neglecting the other. Why does he love that sport more than the other? Don’t permit societal pressures to influence the decision. Either decision will net a great deal of money upfront. Focusing on whatever you’re most passionate about has greater chance for greater riches.
What about indecisiveness? Does Murray have a 50/50 love for each sport? There’s a reason I emphasized “especially if that sport is NFL.” An NFL-to-MLB escape plan is more realistic than an MLB-to-NFL escape plan.
Consider former NFL quarterback and current New York Mets prospect Tim Tebow. Tebow was an all-state high school baseball player. Then he shifted his focus solely on football. In 2016, despite having not played competitive baseball in 11 years, a 29-year-old Tebow pursued an MLB career. He had no collegiate baseball experience. Yet, the now 31-year-old has ascended to Triple-A Syracuse. Later in 2019, there’s a legitimate chance that Tebow receives an MLB promotion.
Kyler Murray turns 22 in August 2019. Let’s say he takes a chance at becoming a franchise quarterback. He gives football three seasons (2019, 2020, 2021). The situation hasn’t played out as he had hoped. Now age 24 heading into the 2022 MLB season (he wouldn’t turn 25 until August 2022), Murray attempts a return to baseball. The former No. 9 pick goes into it knowing this, therefore polishing his baseball skills during NFL offseasons. A team took a chance on Tebow. One will certainly take a chance on Murray (The Athletics would maintain his rights). A few minor league seasons has him starting an MLB career around age 26-27.
Why not? If Murray’s true love centers around football, then this is a perfectly acceptable plan. Nearly everyone mocked Tebow for attempting something even more impossible. Maybe Murray could make that quarterback-baseball player dream work. But, you know, he’d have to find an NFL/XFL and MLB organization willing to work together with him to accomplish his dream. Good luck with that.
Attempting an MLB-to-NFL escape plan isn’t impossible. Although they never reached MLB, Chris Weinke and Brandon Weeden are a couple quarterbacks who transitioned from baseball to football. The problem is that the NFL doesn’t have a developmental territory. Prospects can’t grow through playing at lower levels. They just ride the bench. Weeden and Weinke never came close to progressing into quality starters. What general manager or head coach would risk his or her job on developing a quarterback in his upper 20s?
Which one does Kyler Murray love more? Murray once shunned a chance to become a first-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. That was so he could pursue two sports during college. He has loved football enough to drag it along this far. Does he love it enough to play it even if it means giving up a baseball career?
Only he knows that. And he must remain honest with himself about it.
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Joshua Huffman was born and edumacated in Middle Tennessee. He has published content for Yahoo! Sports (via Contributor Network) and Titan Sized, among other venues. At SoBros, he’ll provide Daily Fantasy Sports suggestions and broad sports coverage. Follow him on Twitter (although I rarely use it).