Among the countless things the recent wave of protests calling for social justice reform in the United States have shown us is that now is the time for actual change, not just talk. Kyler Murray, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, is a firm believer of that ideology.
For many NFL players, the work being done to address the plight of African Americans in the U.S. continues to circle back to the efforts of Colin Kaepernick, who peacefully knelt during the national anthem in protest of social injustice and police brutality in 2016, which prompted national outrage and division. As Kaepernick's name re-enters conversations around the league, most notably in talks of a possible return, the Arizona Cardinals' second-year quarterback expressed his intention to make a statement this upcoming season just as Kaepernick did before him.
"Yeah, I'll be kneeling. I stand for what's right. That's the bottom line," Murray told reporters during a conference call Wednesday. "I call it like I see it and what's been going on is completely wrong so yeah I'll definitely be taking a knee."
As seen in many movements in recent years, social media has allowed the voices and actions of those fighting to dismantle systemic racism to reach far and wide, regardless of how large one's following is. As one of the NFL's brightest talents, Murray's platform will keep growing but the young star sees his pledge to call out injustice for what it is as an extension of his identity as a person of color, not an athlete. He encourages others to be just as vocal.
"For me being a black man in America, if it's wrong I'm going to say it's wrong. I feel like personally, it's on everybody to hold each other accountable," he said. "But more so for me, if you're white and you got white friends who 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.
"Just open their eyes and allow them to understand what's wrong with their thought process because to be honest 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 and we're trying to fix that."
Accountability has been one of the principles most discussed during this tumultuous time. Players and coaches alike have been very active over the past several weeks in their quest to shed light on the deeply rooted issues that have plagued the U.S. for centuries.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien said last week he also plans to take a knee and support any of his players who desire to protest. A week prior to that, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the league was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier" and encouraged everyone "to speak out and peacefully protest," opening the door for more players to kneel along with Murray -- and Browns QB Baker Mayfield, who recently said he'd do the same -- this fall.
As a franchise, the Cardinals have been one of the more involved clubs. Legendary receiver Larry Fitzgerald penned a powerful essay in the New York Times on June 7, in which he stated, "We as a nation are not OK." The Cardinals also on Wednesday joined the growing list of teams that will make Juneteenth (June 19) a permanent company holiday moving forward.
For Murray, the action he's seen from his team and other players serves as motivation for him to keep speaking out. In order to manifest change, he believes it comes down to everyone being purposeful and on the same accord.
"It's very serious. This is nothing to take lightly. I feel like the world is really trying to make a change right now," Murray said. "There's no more straddling the line, there's no 'Ahs,' there's no more, 'Buts.' If it's right it's right, if it's wrong it's wrong. I feel like everybody is calling people out which is necessary -- even in the work realm. All of the great teams that I've been a part of, we're holding each other accountable if somebody is doing something wrong you call them out, you let them know. There's no hard feelings, it's all love at the end of the day.
"We're trying to reach one goal. And I feel like that's how the world needs to be. All the beating around the bush, it does nothing but cause issues. Like I said I'm for what's right, and I feel like everybody on the team understands the magnitude of what's going on in the world. And hopefully everybody else is starting to. I feel like as a team, I feel like we're on the same page."