Cards’ Murray to kneel: ‘I stand for what’s right’

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray didn’t hesitate when asked whether he’ll kneel during the national anthem this season.

“Yeah, I’ll be kneeling,” said Murray, echoing similar sentiments shared by fellow players Adrian Peterson and Baker Mayfield and Texans coach Bill O’Brien, among others, in recent weeks. “I stand for what’s right and that’s the bottom line. I call it like I see it, and what’s been going on is completely wrong, so I’ll definitely be taking a knee.”

Murray, the typically soft-spoken second-year star, didn’t shy away from questions about racial injustice, racism and the future of racial equality in the country while speaking to reporters on a video call Wednesday.

Murray, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, has embraced his platform as a star black quarterback in the NFL and understands his voice is one that will be listened to. Murray said he doesn’t feel any pressure with that.

“I don’t really care what anybody thinks about me, never have, but I know a lot of people that do,” Murray said. “And for me being a black man in America, if it’s wrong I’m gonna say it’s wrong. I feel like personally, it’s on everybody to hold each other accountable. But more so, for me, if you’re white and you got white friends that feel this certain type of way or don’t understand what’s going on, it’s on you to educate them, as well as black, Hispanic, any other ethnicity.

“If you have any racist friends, it’s on you to stop that immediately and let them know why that’s not right, or what’s wrong with the way they think or just opening their eyes and allowing them to understand what’s wrong with their thought process because, to be honest, I mean, we’re all human. And I feel like we should all be treated equally. I don’t get the debate on why everyone should be treated equally because of their skin color. It doesn’t make sense to me, but it is what it is right now. We’re trying to fix that.”

Part of the “we’re” that Murray was referring to was his generation, which he believes can be a major catalyst for change across the nation because of its approach to race, racism and race relations.

“We’re so diverse,” Murray said. “We know what racism is, but I feel like there’s not a lot of it in my generation. I know that generations above me and my parents’ generation, there’s a lot of racism. Whether they’re willing to believe it or not, there is.

“There’s a lot of hate in this world but at the same time, I think that what’s happening, what we’re seeing right now is huge, just because I feel like — all the rioting obviously, I don’t condone the rioting and stuff like that — but the peaceful protests, I think they’re amazing. I think what everything’s going on is amazing. And I think that’s just the start of it.”

The aftermath and response to George Floyd’s death while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on Memorial Day has given a freedom to people to speak their mind on racial issues, Murray said.

There’s no more holding back, he said.

“I feel like now, more than ever, people can just say what they want to say,” Murray said. “Before what we saw with his death, I feel like we had to beat around the bush and kind of just straddle the line and say the politically correct thing. And now I feel like holding everybody accountable and say whatever was on your chest, say what’s on your mind, I think that’s the best thing for the world to be honest because now people realize the effect that everything that’s been going on in the black communities.

“It’s been going on for hundreds of years and everybody knows it but it’s always been just kind of a deal we just look past and just act like what … there’s always been this elephant in the room, but at the end of the day now I feel like there is change coming and I feel like, me especially, I stand for what’s right, I always have. Regardless of my skin color, if it’s right it’s right. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. It’s not hard to see. And what’s been happening is definitely wrong.”

Murray said everybody on the Cardinals “understands the magnitude of what’s going on in the world.” He said that coach Kliff Kingsbury, who Murray has known since he was 15, has “acted every way I would have expected him to act towards the situation.”

Murray said some assistant coaches who played in the NFL told players during virtual meetings that they didn’t have the type of platform or support from team owners and head coaches that current players do.

Murray said he has never experienced police brutality but he said he’s been pulled over while driving in Texas and has been let go because he was recognized.

He said he grew up in an area of Dallas that’s mostly black and Hispanic, and that his older brother had experienced issues with police.

“It’s not enough to just not be racist,” Murray said. “We got to be anti-racist, you got to hold everybody accountable because at the end of the day that’s really what it comes down to is everyone holding each other accountable.”