“Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong.

Whether I find a place in this world or never belong.

I gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me.

What else can I be but what I am?”

 —————————————————————–Sammy Davis Jr.


After a surprisingly busy bye week for Kyler Murray that featured what he believed was a shot from deep left field by former teammate Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals quarterback was loose and often smiling during his first press conference with the media Wednesday.

Murray summarized the war of words when he was asked if there are times when he hears criticism and wonders why it’s directed at him.

“In some instances, yes,” he said. “But I know who I am. I’m not really tripping about anything that comes my way.”

He later repeated that theme of knowing who he is and added, “I’ll never not be me. My confidence, all of that; none of that wavers because of what people say.”

What was said is well known by now. On Peterson’s podcast, he was led into the subject when co-host Bryant McFadden mischaracterized Murray’s comment about a fourth-and-1 play in the team’s loss to the Chargers.

Peterson said, in part, “Kyler Murray don’t care about nobody but Kyler Murray.”

That prompted a response, in which Murray wrote, “This isn’t true … you on some weird shit @p2. You got my number, if you really felt like this as a ‘big bro’ or ‘mentor’ you supposed to call me and tell me, not drag me so your podcast can grow … ”

When a reporter wondered if he had a moment when he questioned whether to respond, Murray said, “No. Honestly, I was super shocked when I saw it because I didn’t even have Twitter on my phone. ‘Quise’ (wide receiver Marquise Brown) actually sent it to me. He asked me what I did do to him, and I said, ‘I don’t know.’ That was kind of the gist around it. I was confused.

“Me and Pat have had a great relationship. Every picture I’ve got with Pat, he’s cheesing ear to ear and I’m cheesing. I saw him last year. Again, I don’t know where any of that’s coming from.”

Perhaps because the Vikings are winning, Peterson revels in going after the Cardinals as he did after a victory earlier this season. When the Vikings were losing last season, he was quiet. After the initial comments, he doubled down the next day when talking to the Minneapolis media, while also claiming he meant no “disrespect” to Murray. Really? It’s difficult to imagine what he would have said uf actually disrespected him.

Noting the quarterback’s body language when he gets frustrated, Peterson said, “Those mannerisms are alarming. I’m just saying something that most people may be afraid to tell him. It’s no secret. Everybody sees it. You see it every time they’re on television. You see Kyler Murray pouting. Cursing out the head coach, calling out the offensive scheme. I didn’t say that. He did.”

Well, Murray didn’t say that. In the heated moment of the game against New Orleans, Murray didn’t curse out coach Kliff Kingsbury. He said, “Calm the f— down.” If he had simply said, “Calm down,” would that have been different?

As for “calling out the offensive scheme,” Murray also didn’t do that. When Murray said the offense was “schematically f-ed” on that one play in the Chargers game, it was clearly about the defense taking away what the Cardinals wanted to do and forcing Murray to go into scramble mode.

Either Peterson didn’t know that or he didn’t care. However, he also said, “What I meant by my comment was when you’re a franchise quarterback you have to carry yourself a certain way.”

He’s right about that, but it also doesn’t mean Murray cares only about himself.

Murray could help himself by limiting the curses he sprinkles into his talks with the media and some social media posts. It’s unnecessary. But, it’s hardly selfish.

Kingsbury was asked whether body language matters and he said, pointedly, “I think we all have our moments. You’d like to be stoic at times, but showing emotion; some of the greatest of all time have done it and continue to do it. I think there’s a fine line of not wanting to put your teammates out there on blast.

“I think that’s the biggest thing I talk about is when you’re on the field if there’s something; the hands-up gesture and doing stuff like that kind of outs your teammate on the field. Let’s get them to the sideline and we’ll talk about it over there, but that’s the big one for me. Showing emotion to an extent, that’s part of the game.”

Kingsbury was stoic when he was asked what advice he would give about dealing with outside noise.

He said, “I think for all of us, it’s one of those deals (where) if you win, they’re going to say something about you (and) if you lose, they’re going to say something about you. So it’s just making sure you’re focused on the right things. That’s controlling obviously your attitude, your effort and what you’re putting into it and the people that matter, the people that are closest to you and the people you work with every day. The rest of it is just noise.”

Murray said “hell no” when asked if the noise wears on him mentally, and said, “It is what it is. (He said that five times Wednesday.) You understand the position that you’re in. What comes with it and what you have to face. I’m not really new to it. This is something I’ve been dealing with basically, not my whole life, but for the most part, I’ve had to deal with stuff like that, so it doesn’t affect me.”

Kingsbury said, “The spotlight is something he’s used to since a young age and he was kind of a phenom – baseball, football, basketball, you name it. Growing up, it was always on him, so he’s accustomed to critics and hearing different opinions and things like that. He does a nice job of just focusing on what he can control and trying to get better.”

His teammates agree. Those that are with him on a daily basis as opposed to people that perhaps consider themselves long-distance psychologists.

Said Brown, a teammate of  Murray also at Oklahoma, “If you don’t know him, he might come off wrong, but Kyler’s one of the most loving people I know, one of the hardest working people I know. We know what he stands for, we know what type of guy he is.”

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said he was ”surprised” by Peterson’s words coming from “someone like PatP being in the locker room, being a Cardinal here longer than a lot of guys. I know the relationship he and Kyler had before he left, so I think it surprised a lot of us.

“I’m not one to give a PSA about Kyler, but he plays hard. Obviously, there’s 11 people out there on the field, not just him. Ten other people have to do their jobs for him to be successful. So one thing I know about Kyler is he loves the game.”

Right tackle Kelvin Beachum said, “What I would say about Kyler is he’s continued to mature. “By no means is anybody perfect. Each of us has flaws. … Kyler’s doing everything he can to make sure he’s putting his best foot forward week in and week out.

“He’s continuing to show up, he’s continuing to engage his teammates outside of the building, which I’m happy about. I think he’s done everything that he possibly can, growing and maturing. At the end of the day, he’s only 24 years old (actually 25). Even though he has a lot of pressure and a lot of things that come along with that, he’s doing whatever’s necessary to mature and be the quarterback we need him to be.”

“He’s showed changes,” current left tackle Josh Jones said. “People are always going to talk. People are always going to say something. That’s your guys’ job. It’s a double-edged sword. I feel like he’s handled it well. He’s been under a lot lately. It’s tough for him, I know it’s tough for him.

“He’s always been in the spotlight his whole career, so he handles it pretty well. He’s a guy that just tries to go out there and win games and that’s what we’re all trying to do.”

As a rookie guard Lecitus Smith has an interesting perspective, especially after Hard Knocks showed Murray encouraging Smith at an offensive line dinner before his first start against the Rams.

Appearing on a 98.7 FM podcast, Smith said, “Kyler’s another guy that I look up to in a way. I feel like a lot of people look at him as this selfish guy and a guy that only cares about himself, but being on the inside — not on the outside looking in — being on the inside, I see that he cares about guys.

“To some people, he may not have the best character, they may not know him like some of us do on the inside, but he’s a good dude. He definitely looks out for his guys.

“If the guy really did not care, he wouldn’t be spending the majority of his days in the building, putting in extra work, watching film with Colt McCoy, the whole nine, correcting guys like me or even getting into it. I think a lot of people took that clip of he and D-Hop going at it and took it the wrong way. They’re both going back and forth like that because they are very passionate about this game that they love, that they’ve been playing for some time now.

“If a guy didn’t care, he would just sit back on the bench. The guy signed that contract extension. He is paid. He has the money. If people want to think that’s what it’s about, he has the money. He could very easily sit back and kick his feet up, but that’s not the case. There’s passion there.”

I’ve always thought that those making noise about players and coaches should experience just one quarter of an NFL game from the sideline to get a sense of what it is truly like.

The emotion. The passion. The noise. The controlled chaos.

And when things aren’t going your way, the frustration.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin talked about that this week when there was criticism of rookie receiver George Pickens for yelling on the sideline about not getting the ball enough. What Hopkins said to Murray in an earlier game was tame compared to Pickens.

Tomlin said, “I want a guy that wants to be a significant part of what it is we do. Now the appropriate and professional and mature way to express that, we’re growing and working on, and we will continue. But that spirit, that competitive spirit, that guy that wants the ball? I want that guy.”

Noting, as Kingsbury did, that expressing emotion isn’t unusual, Tomlin added, “We’ve got competitors. This is professional football. These guys know they have to deliver. For a guy who wants to do that, I’m not going to make that a negative, no matter how silly I think the commentary is, or people talking about him expressing frustrations, and trying to make it a negative story line. I laugh at that.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re continually progressing, because we’re capable of tuning that B.S. out.”

As Kingsbury concluded about Murray, “At the end of the day, nobody outside of this building or our meeting room really knows the truth or knows who he is like we do, so I try not to pay too much attention to it (the noise).”

Which brings us more Sammy Davis Jr. to close this out:

“That far away prize, a world of success.

Is waiting for me if I heed the call.

I won’t settle down, won’t settle for less.

As long as there’s a chance that I can have it all.”

Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter @hbalzer721 or email me: howard@gophnx.com



Howard Balzer is in his 47th year covering professional football as a writer, editor and broadcaster and has covered 41 Super Bowls. His connection with pro football began in 1976 with College and Pro Football Newsweekly, and since then he has been a featured columnist for The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, USA Today Sports Weekly and The Sports Xchange. Balzer moved to St. Louis in 1978 to work for The Sporting News, where he became Pro Football Editor in 1979. He was an analyst on ESPN's initial broadcast of the NFL Draft in 1980 and continued in that role through 1988. He has won seven writing awards in the Professional Football Writers of America competition, won an Emmy for commentaries on KPLR-TV in St. Louis in 1986 and was nominated for an Emmy in 1988 and 1990. He was named the 2016 winner of the Bob Broeg Media Award presented by the St. Louis/Tom Lombardo Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. The award is for enthusiasm, integrity, professionalism and devotion to the game of football and is reserved for individuals whose contributions to football in the St. Louis area have made a significant difference. Balzer was an officer (secretary and secretary/treasurer) for the Professional Football Writers of America for 33 years and was inducted into the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Balzer relocated to the Phoenix area in 2020 as the publisher of the FanNation AllCardinals site and is now the Cardinals reporter for PHNX. He is entering his 19th year as one of 49 voting members on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is also on the Hall's Seniors Committee. He is the co-host of the weekly Pro Football Hall of Fame radio show on SiriusXM NFL Radio and is a part-time host at ArizonaSports 98.7 FM.