Black excellence at the quarterback position was on full display on Sunday night, in an overtime duel between Seattle Seahawks MVP leader Russell Wilson and rising Arizona Cardinals superstar Kyler Murray.
In a game in which the Cardinals trailed by 10 points with 3 minutes left, Murray came on late and stole the thunder from Wilson and Hawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (200 yards of receiving), leading the underdog Cardinals to a huge 37-34 OT upset of the previously undefeated Seahawks (5-1).
With the upset performance, Arizona’s (5-2) NFC stock as a legit contender just soared. The Cardinals made somebody a nice amount of cash with that win as Seattle was a 3.5 point favorite entering the game. The Cardinals, who have started the season 5-2 for just the third time since 1977, are entering a bye week and will return to action on Nov. 8.
The play on the field was dope, but the actual game was so much bigger than football, with so many underlying stories and culturally significant aspects to the “Game of the Year” through Week 7 of the NFL season.
Record-breaking Performances: The Uniqueness of The Black Quarterback
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) October 26, 2020
Wilson threw for 388 yards 3 TDs and rushed for another 84 yards. Murray worked out of a 27-17 deficit and a slow start to finish with 360 yards, 3 passing TDs and 67 rushing yards — which is light work with the legs for Murray.
These two quarterbacks are very similar in how they play and execute within their offenses. Unlike Wilson, who was cuffed under a ball-control offense in his first few seasons, Murray’s been unleashed early by head coach Kliff Kingsbury and he hasn’t disappointed.
Give It Up For My Shorties!
Never in NFL history have we had two diminutive quarterbacks ranking near the top of their professions. Two quarterbacks who defy the odds of metrics and tradition and history if the prototype NFL QB. Wilson at 5-11, has already been to two Super Bowls and has led the redefinition of the position, opening the floodgates for unique talents such as Murray who stands about an inch shorter than Wilson.
The Combine measurements are in for Kyler Murray, who checks in at 5'10 1/8", 207 pounds and a 9 1/2" hand size.
Only two quarterbacks since 2006 have been drafted with a Combine height under 6 feet: Russell Wilson in 2012 (3rd round) and Johnny Manziel in 2014 (1st round). pic.twitter.com/hYkNG5sm0A
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 28, 2019
In both cases, analysts and scouts doubted their ability to perform at a high level in the NFL due to physical limitations. However, what limits they have in height they more than make up for with tremendous talent, unique athleticism, and a knack for the game.
They are the quintessential dual-threat quarterbacks because they really do possess an equal capacity to burn you with the run and the pass.
Brothers In Baseball
Both players are former MLB Draft picks. Wilson, a second baseman, was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB first-year player draft. He hit. 228 during two seasons in the minor leagues with Colorado and was selected by the Rangers in the December 2013 Rule 5 draft. His rights were traded to the Yankees in 2018.
Murray is the first player in history to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft (No. 1 overall in 2019) and the MLB Draft (No. 9 overall in the 2018 Draft). He actually turned down a $14 million guaranteed offer and additional signing bonus from Oakland to enter the NFL Draft and ended up signing for $16.6 million more as a QB.
In addition to having fireball arms, you can see how both players utilize their baseball experience when playing the position, particularly when they slide after scrambles and avoid heavy contact. The way they look their deep, pocket throws to reach over taller defenders is also very similar.
The NFL got a glimpse into its future on Sunday night, with two classic examples of how the game is constantly evolving and how the quarterback has become the most dynamic athlete on the field.