The leaked details of a massive National Football League contract reveal a team worried about its star quarterback playing video games rather than studying. (h/t The Washington Post)
Amid rumors of shaky negotiations, the Arizona Cardinals and two-time Pro Bowl selection Kyler Murray signed a new contract last week promising the young quarterback $230.5 million over five years. The agreement makes Murray one of the highest-paid athletes in the NFL.
But according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport (no relation), there’s one catch: Murray needs to spend at least four hours a week independently studying material for upcoming games, during which the legally binding commitment specifies he cannot watch TV, browse the internet, or (gasp) play video games.
“Player shall receive no credit for Independent Study for any period during which Player does not personally study the provided material in good faith,” the contract reads. “For the avoidance of doubt, Player shall not receive any credit for Independent Study [...] if […] Player is engaged in any other activity that may distract his attention.”
While NFL contracts often include language stipulating off-field behavior, the fact that the Cardinals need to ensure Murray is taking his $230.5 million job seriously came as a surprise to those with history in the league. Andrew Brandt, a former Green Bay Packers executive, tweeted it was “strange” Arizona was comfortable giving the 24-year-old a $46 million salary while also concerned about his studying habits.
“Never seen this in 30 years of looking at NFL contracts,” said Brandt.
Murray is also known for being part of esports org Faze Clan and streaming on Twitch when not on an NFL field. An anecdote relayed by The New York Times notes that, after leading the Cardinals to an incredible, last-second win over the Buffalo Bills in 2020, he didn’t stick around to celebrate. Murray instead returned home to play Call of Duty for his online audience, preferring to stay out of the limelight whenever possible.
It’s possible the people paying Murray’s paychecks believe this hobby to be a distraction. Rough data shows that the quarterback’s performance tends to drop off towards the end of the NFL season, which correlates with the annual fall release schedule of the Call of Duty franchise. This doesn’t tell the whole story, of course—some athletes just don’t play at their peak after enduring several hard-hitting months of football and the resulting injuries—but it does paint a humorous picture.
In any case, folks who tune into Murray’s broadcasts may find the NFL star less available during the coming season. If I had to choose between playing four extra hours of video games and $230.5 million, you know I’m going with the money. Don’t fumble the bag, Murray, especially not for Call of Duty of all games.