This isn’t really a debate about Kyler Murray. You already know that deal. Should the Heisman Trophy winner play NFL football or stick with his first-round selection by the A’s?
This is more a debate of football vs. baseball.
Murray is a young, hip, gifted athlete and one of the fortunate few who has two great choices. Both sports are calling his name: We pick you. You are a potential superstar. Play for us and we will make you great.
This could go on for a while. Even if he declares for the NFL now, he can change his mind right up to the draft, in case his stock starts to slide.
Which does he pick? What does today’s prototypical athlete see as his best path to success?
Football clearly owns the hype. If you want the immediate spotlight, that’s the way to go.
Because what you’re seeing now is just a beginning. If Murray attends the NFL scouting combine, we will cross over into the world of hyper-pundit. We will hear height, weight, sprints, throws and weird questions from team representatives.
And by the way, Kyler, as a running quarterback, there are going to be suspicions about your throwing accuracy. No, that is not fair. It is, however, going to happen. You can overcome the doubters, but let’s get that out there.
The point is there will be a huge Murray buildup to the NFL draft. And then, whichever team drafts him will ramp things up even further. Can he make a difference? How soon will he start?
Actually, we can answer that. Pretty darn soon. The days of letting the promising youngster sit on the bench for a year or two to get his bearings are over. If you’re a first-round QB, you are going to play at some point in your first season.
However, if you are drafted high enough up in the order, it will likely mean you are not going to a good team. So your quick leap into the starter’s role could be risky.
Because Murray is going to get hit. Hard. And he’s small. At this point people are guessing that he is no taller than 5-9. But the really alarming stat is that Murray isn’t projected to weigh more than 200 pounds.
We have heard the tale of the Miracle of the Running Quarterback in the NFL before. It sometimes works for a year or two. But remember this stat: the injury rate in the NFL is 100 percent.
There a very real possibility that Murray gets clobbered and becomes Robert Griffin III. Or, he may play 12 productive years. You never know.
So there’s that.
As for baseball, he’s getting on a bus. There is no avoiding the bus.
The trip from the Heisman ceremony to the minor leagues will feel like going from the penthouse to the outhouse.
The bewildering minor league levels, the small-town ballparks and the sense of being out of the mainstream could wear on Murray. Maybe he could bring his Heisman Trophy to put on the hotel dresser to remind him of better days.
Baseball expects buy-in. You are not going to play in the majors your first season. And, by the way, they might want you to play winter league ball in the Dominican Republic. It’s a slow roll to the show.