Was the Criticism of Kyler Murray Racist? Some Reporters Believe So

Kyler Murray
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DANIEL LEBERFELD

Was NFL Network analyst Charlie Casserly’s recent criticism of Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray race-driven?

Yahoo! NFL writer Terez Paylor and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith think it might be.

“There are only about seven weeks to go until the 2019 NFL draft, and right on time, you had some anonymous criticism of an African-American quarterback that has caused a ruckus,” wrote Paylor.

Last week, Casserly, a former GM, said Murray didn’t interview well at the recent NFL Scouting Combine.

“Well, [Murray] better hope [Arizona] takes him No. 1 because this was not good,” Casserly said on March 5. “This was the worst comments I ever got on a high-rated quarterback, and I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve probably been doing it longer than you’re alive. Anyway, leadership — not good. Study habits — not good. The board work — below not good. Not good at all in any of those areas and raising major concerns about what this guy is going to do.”

On Wednesday, NFL executives, scouts and coaches converged on Norman, OK to see Murray work out.

Aside from showing scouts that his height (5-foot-10 1/8) won’t be a problem, he might need to show them he’s an alpha dog leader, which is so important for the QB position on the NFL level.

“Now, people say, we’re going to compare him to [Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick] Mahomes, we’re going to run an offense like Mahomes, we’re going to run an offense like (Cleveland Browns QB) Baker Mayfield. Well, you can’t. … Those guys are much different,” Casserly said. “Those guys, you never question about their ability on the board, you never question about their leadership ability, their work habits, they were outstanding in those areas. This guy is not outstanding in those areas. It showed up in the interview.”

Paylor isn’t entirely comfortable with the road Casserly went down with his comments about a black QB prospect.

“Given the NFL’s um, not-so-progressive history when it comes to black quarterbacks — future Hall of Famer Warren Moon, who possessed prototype size and a howitzer for an arm, went undrafted in 1978 — it’s no wonder why some might emotionally equate Casserly’s comments with the past stereotypes about black quarterbacks being too dumb or too inarticulate to lead a professional football team,” wrote Paylor.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith also feels there was a racial element to Casserly’s assessment of Murray.

“And then what do we come with? ‘Oh, he’s not studying,” Smith said on ESPN. “His film work is questionable. His work ethic and leadership is questionable.’ You could call that codeword or whatever the case may be. I call it systemic racism to be quite honest with you. Now I’m not accusing Charley Casserly of feeling that way. I’m saying what he articulated was that damn offensive.”

After taking a lot of heat over his comments, Casserly tried to walk them back to a degree. Four days after his initial statement, he went back on NFL Network, and offered effusive praise of Murray.

“Arm strength? He can make all the throws,” Casserly said on March 9. “Vision? It’s hard to read vision in this offense but you do see him sit there and have poise in the pocket and be able to see the field. And in running ability, guy is an excellent runner with the football. I think he’s got Russell Wilson arm strength and Russell Wilson running ability. I think this guy has got all the potential in the world to be a successful quarterback in the National Football League. And Mahomes — let’s bring up Mahomes for a second. Compare him and Mahomes on the college tape, I put this guy ahead of Mahomes.”

There is a lot of speculation that Murray will be picked first overall in the NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals.

Once he plays in the NFL for a while, we’ll all find out whose assessment of the player was correct.

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