Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon chastised the “independent study” clause initially included in Kyler Murray’s contract extension with the Arizona Cardinals, chastising the language as a “slap in the face to all African-American quarterbacks.”
Moon made the comment to TMZ for a story published on Sunday while discussing Murray’s $230 million extension that makes him the second-highest paid player in the NFL by annual salary. When Murray signed the deal last week, a clause in the contract leaked stating the Murray must complete “at least four (4) hours of Independent Study each week during each Playing Season during the term of the Contact.”
The clause also prohibited Murray from engaging in distractions such as TV and video games while conducting his independent study at the risk of defaulting on his contract. Moon, a pioneering Black quarterback who starred for the Houston Oilers and other NFL teams in the 1980s and 90s, told TMZ that the clause was “embarrassing” and a call-back to the days “when they didn’t let us play.”
“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” Moon said. “It’s an embarrassing situation for not only the player Kyler Murray, but it’s embarrassing for the organization to have to deal with this. I think it shows a lack of trust in the player that you even have to put something in a contract like this.
“It’s also a slap in the face to all African-American quarterbacks. That’s something we were always accused of back in the day when they didn’t let us play. That we were lazy, that we didn’t study, that we couldn’t be leaders, that we weren’t smart. So all those different things just kind of came to surface after we put all that stuff to bed over the years and just because of this deal that’s going on between Arizona and Kyler.”
Murray: ‘Disrespectful and almost a joke’
The clause prompted an uproar in NFL circles with its response drawing criticism from Murray himself.
“To think that I can accomplish everything that I’ve accomplished in my career and not be a student of the game and not have that passion and not take this serious is disrespectful and it’s almost a joke,” Murray told reporters last week.
Amid the uproar, the Cardinals removed the clause from the contract on Thursday, four days after it leaked.
“After seeing the distraction it created, we removed the addendum from the contract,” a Cardinals statement reads. “It was clearly perceived in ways that were never intended.
“Our confidence in Kyler Murray is as high as it’s ever been and nothing demonstrates our belief in his ability to lead this team more than the commitment reflected in this contract.”
The leak suggested that the Cardinals don’t have confidence in Murray’s study habits. Removing the language didn’t undo that perception. Moon believes that the clause will continue to follow Murray throughout his career.
“It’s too late,” Moon continued. “The damage has been done. He’ll have this riding on him every time he does something wrong in a football game. They’re going to say, ‘See, that’s the reason why that happened is because he didn’t study enough film last week,’ or whatever it might be. It’s a very unfortunate situation for him and very embarrassing for both sides.”