Vacuum the floor? Workout at 5 a.m.? Cardinals' bolder Kyler Murray stays humble

TEMPE, Ariz. -- There are parts of Kyler Murray's life that are well known. The Arizona Cardinals' franchise quarterback has been in the spotlight since he was a sophomore in high school. He's a Heisman Trophy winner, a first-round draft pick in two sports and a rookie of the year.

But there are other parts of his life that very few people know, such as the fact that he's a clean freak.

In May, Geno Pierce -- the CEO of Performance Course, the gym Murray has trained with in his hometown of Allen, Texas, since high school -- tweeted a video of Murray vacuuming the gym floor with the caption: "You want a role model @K1 is the all timer. Most have no idea the level of character this guy is. He inspires me! He cleans our place after training at 5:30 am. R you kidding me?! This dude is THE GUY on all levels. Humble and down to earth as they come. #realrolemodel."

Moments such as that reveal a lot about a person. That kind of humility has defined Murray even as he has begun to shed his reputation for being soft-spoken and quiet and has become more vocal by the day with teammates.

When Murray talked about the vacuuming during a video conference call in May, he said there were "some bugs" on the carpet.

"What it really is, he's very OCD -- he's super clean -- and I get it because I am, too," said Stephen Baca, Murray's trainer, who clarified that there was just one fly. "But when he walks in, he hand sanitized six times. He's got his gloves on. He's not touching the weight unless he sprays it down.

"I mean, we don't fist bump. He wore gloves the first three months. Like, he's just clean."

When Murray didn't want to get on the floor to do some hip mobility movements following the fly's departure, Baca told him he had one option.

"I literally told him to go get the freakin' vacuum and vacuum if you want to," Baca said. "I'm not doing it for you. He ain't a first-round draft pick in that barn. He's just Kyler. He's not the rookie of the year. He's just a guy.

"And so, just shows you: He doesn't need anything fancy. He's not a prima donna, even though I give him a hard time for sometimes being one."

Murray has carried that kind of do-the-work mentality with him into his second season as the Cardinals' quarterback. Through two games, his 155 rushing yards are the most by a quarterback since Michael Vick opened the 2006 season with 175. Murray has a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown in each of the first two games, and the Cardinals are 2-0.

'Comfortable in his role'

After spending last season trying to figure out life in the NFL -- from defensive coverages to managing his free time to having teammates who are grown men and rely on him for a paycheck -- Murray seems more mature now, wide receiver Christian Kirk said.

Murray organized and paid for a throwing session in Dallas with about 20 Cardinals teammates over the course of a few days this summer. He sent random text messages to teammates, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, and joined others for lunches.

"He's a lot more open," Fitzgerald said. "I think he's a lot more comfortable in his role, and I think that was validated when his teammates voted him as a captain. He has done a great job of not just being a leader and letting his voice be heard. I'm really happy in the direction he's going."

Murray called being voted a captain a "great honor" and said it was a "huge deal for me." He wants his teammates to know that he cares about them, but he's also trying to lead by example. It's clear to Murray's teammates that he is different than he was last season.

Running back Chase Edmonds, who got close with Murray in 2019, quickly noticed how much more vocal Murray has become. It's a vast change from last season, when Edmonds said Murray "didn't say too much." The change started toward the end of 2019, Edmonds said, but Murray is "speaking up a lot more now" and is doing so in ways to motivate his team.

"He's going to grow with that as he gets older and as he gets more games under his belt and more wins under his belt," Edmonds said. "... It's good to see that in the early stages right now."

Brett Hundley, who was Murray's backup last season and is the team's third-string quarterback this year, said Murray "looks relaxed. He feels relaxed. He's playing relaxed. He's looking good."

It started showing in Week 1, when Murray led the Cardinals to a win over the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. Coach Kliff Kingsbury saw Murray take a step against the Niners, as the Cardinals didn't take a lead until the fourth quarter.

"I don't know if we could have hung around last year," said Kingsbury, who has known Murray for eight years but said Week 1 was the proudest he has been of his QB. "I think that speaks to his maturity, his leadership, being able to hang in there mentally because it wasn't pretty early.

"That's the step we talked about taking."

Left guard Justin Pugh has seen the leadership part of being a quarterback -- commanding a huddle, determining the pace of play, getting the call to his teammates, making adjustments at the line -- become second nature to Murray.

Fellow offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, the Cardinals' first-round pick in 2015, added, "You can tell that he's not worried about anyone messing with him because he's a young guy. It's a lot easier to joke around with him. I'm a big joker. I like to play around. I think last year, he was so concerned with figuring everything out, he couldn't really tell when the O-line was being sarcastic and joking around with him. I think he's starting to figure that out a little bit more. He's picking back with us a lot. It makes it fun.

"It's been fun to see him become so much more personable."

Part of Murray's humility comes from his self-awareness.

"He knows who he is and what he is and what he's accomplished and what he has the ability to accomplish," Kingsbury said. "He keeps that to himself, and that's just who he is. He's not a very outward-spoken guy who's going to put a lot out there, but he is very, very confident, and he's very, very competitive.

"It's just the way he rolls."

'The kind of dude that he is'

In mid-March, as the coronavirus pandemic lockdown began, Murray was already entrenched in a weekly routine with Baca.

They met four days a week at 9 or 11 a.m. at Performance Course, keeping up a schedule that Murray began two weeks after the 2019 season ended, when he was named rookie of the year after throwing for 3,722 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

But early in the pandemic, as the quarantine went into full effect, Performance Course had to close for most of a day to shoot instructional videos for its online platform as a way to continue driving at least one revenue source. Baca texted Murray that he could fit him in at 5 a.m. It wasn't an unusual request. Baca had made it clear to Murray over the years that he'd have to work out around Baca's schedule.

In March, Murray's response to Baca's text was the same: "OK, whatever you need."

Months later, Baca was still blown away by Murray's "level of flexibility" and "unentitlement."

"You get a guy that's that talented, like, he can easily say, 'Man, I'm the Rookie of the Year. I need to be there at 9 a.m. I'll come when I want to. You bend for me,'" Baca said. "But he understands the situation that we're in as a company, and he bends and makes concessions for us, and that's the kind of dude that he is."