On paper, the answer should be clear for Kyler Murray.
Selected ninth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s, he could immediately sign a contract with a signing bonus around the $4.7 million slot value for the ninth overall pick and set his sights on a long career playing baseball.
BREAKING: #Athletics selecting Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray at No. 9, sources say.
— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayFRS) June 4, 2018
Or, Murray could suit up for the Oklahoma Sooners this fall, likely as their starting quarterback, and play a violent game that racks up injuries, shortens careers, and causes lasting damage to its participants. Oh and he’d be doing it for free with no guarantees that he’ll ever be paid in the NFL.
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 17, 2017
On paper, he should run as far as he can from the gridiron into the welcoming arms of Billy Beane’s organization, trade in that the crimson and cream for the green and yellow, and begin what would, in theory, be a much more lucrative career in baseball.
But of course we know that they don’t play games on paper and athletes like Murray don’t always make decisions based on what’s best for them when they’re 40.
Murray has huge shoes to fill in Oklahoma. If he returns to school, he’ll be replacing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and he’s being whispered as a potential candidate to take home that hardware as well. A lot of people on the ground in Norman, Oklahoma seem to think it’s a foregone conclusion that Murray will be attempting just that in the fall. Baker Mayfield told Bleacher Report that Murray is “going to break all my records. He’s that good.” Head coach Lincoln Riley told reporters last week that “I fully expect him to be with us. I really don’t have any worries about it.” Riley also told reporters that Murray will not play baseball this summer and will instead focus on football.
Lincoln Riley says Kyler Murray will not play baseball this summer and will be with the football team this summer.
— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) May 31, 2018
Murray has been silent on the matter, for his part, though MLB scouts and personnel have said that he’s made it clear he wants to play football this year. He has two years left of eligibility, though his NFL prospects are not as enticing as his predecessor’s. Which is to say that baseball might be the long-term bet for Murray, even if he’s going to stick with football in the short-term.
Of course, there are still plenty of risks if Murray does spurn the baseball gods. He’s not guaranteed the starting job at Oklahoma just yet. Can you imagine the second thoughts if he decides to stick with football but doesn’t even win the starting gig? And while it’s impossible to quantify what one year of playing football does to the body, you have to wonder how much wear and tear it puts on him with every season he stays away from the lucrative baseball diamond.
Of course, there’s also the fact that Murray has been a football player his entire life. His father was a football star at Texas A&M. He’s got a lot to prove after transferring from TAMU when his dreams of suiting up like his father didn’t pan out. All signs do point to him giving it at least one more go on the football field before trading it all in, if he ever does.
But if you thought Kyler Murray’s decision-making was going to be dissected as the QB at Oklahoma before, just wait until the 2018 season if he decides to see it through. Any missed opportunity, any injury, any bad choice is going to be filtered through the question, “He turned down $5 million for this?” It’s not a crazy question, even if it lacks context. And a lot of people are going to disagree with Kyler no matter what he decides, but again, they’re not in his shoes and they don’t have to live with the consequences.
A lot of people say that Murray is in a win-win situation given his athletic ability on both fields. Maybe that’s true right here and now, but once he makes a decision, that win-win could turn lose-lose pretty quickly. Such is the dilemma of athletes as talented as him.