DAN BICKLEY

Kyler Murray’s arrival at Cardinals OTAs gives Valley much-needed jolt

Jun 1, 2022, 1:50 PM | Updated: 6:02 pm
Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray (1) participates during the team's NFL football practice, Wednesday...

Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray (1) participates during the team's NFL football practice, Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

He showed up voluntarily. That’s what you need to know about Kyler Murray.

Some might say he showed up late, in the second week of OTAs (Organized Team Activities). But somehow, he arrived at exactly the right time, giving the Valley a much-needed jolt of energy.

This is the story we needed.

It’s been a rough stretch around here. The deconstruction of the Suns ripped out our hearts. We witnessed a record-setting team with one love and perfect chemistry become frazzled, frayed and completely lost. We still have no answers for the lethargy of Chris Paul and his lifeless eyes. Or what caused that blowup between Monty Williams and Deandre Ayton. The fan base may never recover. And with the Valley bracing for Ayton’s imminent departure, the fear is neither will this basketball team.

The return of Murray soothes wounds. It means he is close to a contract extension with the Cardinals, which should make everyone feel better about the short-term future of the organization. Or it means he’s truly maturing and fully understands the presence and leadership he must provide as a franchise quarterback. He has learned the sacrifices he must make.

We’re also assuming that Murray’s return is permanent and not temporary.

But every moment this group spends together brings them closer to a Super Bowl. Murray’s absence in the first week represented a lost opportunity. To bond. To lead. To grow.

This is a team with new offensive weapons that must be integrated and assimilated. This is a team that took the field in Los Angeles for a playoff game with very little internal belief. This team needs tweaks to its offense. This team needs some work. Together. As one.

Murray’s absence also seemed foreboding. Like the team was dealing with sticker shock after the Deshaun Watson contract in Cleveland reset the market to absurd heights; after Murray’s agent pulled his initial contract proposal off the table; after Murray told former Cowboys great Michael Irvin that he wasn’t reporting to camp without a new contract.

We have become conditioned to expect the worst. We’ve seen too much financial surrender already in our shared sports history. The Diamondbacks couldn’t afford to keep Paul Goldschmidt, merely the hottest hitter on the planet. They couldn’t afford to keep Max Scherzer and Robbie Ray, pitchers who have won the Cy Young Award elsewhere. Before their decade of dysfunction, the Suns wouldn’t commit to the cost of winning a championship, refusing to pay Joe Johnson (2005) and Amar’e Stoudemire (2010) after trips to the Western Conference Finals. And just when we thought the Coyotes were being saved by a billionaire at the helm, the team gets kicked out of Glendale for failing to pay their bills.

Murray’s appearance in Tempe on Wednesday is evidence that Michael Bidwill is not going to make the same mistake that has stained many of his fellow owners in Arizona. And Murray’s good-faith gesture is a comforting show of real leadership, respecting his teammates who care enough to show up and effectively putting the team first.

Together, they raise hopes and spirits alike. That we are not destined to be a market of lost superstars and lost causes.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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Kyler Murray’s arrival at Cardinals OTAs gives Valley much-needed jolt