Football Is “LITERALLY” a Game of Inches
One of the oldest and most widely renown cliches in the sport of football is the “football is a game of inches”. Coaches and players use this mantra to motivate and drive home the message that can be universally applied to any and all facets of life as well as football. That message is essentially implying that a goal can be reached and achieved one step or one inch at a time. In football, an inch can decide the outcome of a game and even the fate of a team’s season. Job security can hinge, divisions or playoff spots can be clinched, careers can be made or ended, records can be broken, and championships can be won or lost in a game that is predicated on yards, inches, and feet. Inches on the gridiron are what matters most, but when evaluating prospective players that come into the league or just play the sport, in general, there has been a long-standing bias on athletes that don’t fit the prototypical, but what is really stereotypical dimensions that are believed to be possess the greatest talent and intangibles. However, over the last two decades, there have been players at the college, semi-professional and professional level that has proven that one does not necessarily need to possess the desired measurables, athletic ability or national notoriety to succeed and excel on the field. Former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray is viewed as one of the best athletes and arguably the best quarterback in this year’s NFL draft class. The two-sport superstar who starred in baseball to the point that he was selected with the ninth overall pick in last year’s MLB draft by the Oakland A’s. Murray won the Heisman trophy last season, an accolade that is voted on and given to the best player in all of college football, yet until yesterday was not discussed or even mocked as a realistic candidate to be taken with the No,1 overall pick in April’s draft. Why is that one, who is not familiar with the college and pro football landscape might ask? That is because despite throwing for 4,361 yards and touchdowns, rushing for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns, the quarterback that dazzled all spectators and impressed all evaluators that tuned into a Sooners' game on a Saturday with his electrifying playmaking ability on the ground as well as through the air wasn’t deemed to worthy of the top overall pick until one question could be answered. How tall is Kyler Murray? In what was probably the most anticipated height and weight measurement in NFL combine history, Murray finally got the 5”9ish” monkey off his back when he measured in at 5ft. 10&1/8in. and is now being talked about as a serious candidate to go No.1 overall. The biggest knock that has been associated with the dual-threat quarterback, even more so than his commitment to football over baseball, was that teams were concerned about a sub 5”10” quarterback being able to succeed and hold up at the NFL level. This ridiculous notion that quarterbacks that measure in below or at six feet can’t make it or will struggle at the professional level has been proven to the contrary by a trio of quarterbacks that are presently viewed to be among the best and most uniquely talented in the league. Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson (5”11”) and New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees (6”0”) have both enjoyed tremendous success in the NFL and both of them have delivered their franchises and respective cities their first Superbowl title. The man that Murray succeeded at Oklahoma in Baker Mayfield measures in just a hair over six feet at 6”1”. He was drafted with the No.1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns last season, threw for nearly 4,000 yards, broke Wilson’s rookie touchdown record with 27 on the year and has breathed new life is not just the Browns organization but the entire city of Cleveland. It’s ludicrous that one-inch, not the highlight reel of game tape, could go down as the final deciding factor on whether the best player in all of college football last year cements his worthiness of the top overall pick but that is what exactly might happen when the Arizona Cardinals are officially on the clock in Nashville, TN on the night of the Thursday April 25, 2019. Whoever ends up with Kyler Murray will get not only the best player in this draft but will also be getting the face of their franchise for the next decade and beyond.