One of the often unseen aspects of prospect evaluation in the NFL are interviews the teams conduct with players. They usually take place in person behind closed doors, but with the coronavirus epidemic forcing teams to change the way they evaluate and communicate with prospects, many of this year’s interviews were video calls.
One such video was posted recently by the Dallas Cowboys, during which owner Jerry Jones and other members of the staff talked with former Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray. Jones asked the first-round prospect about a setback or challenge that helped him become the football player he is.
In response, Murray discussed his upbringing and displayed the maturity that has many teams raving about his character.
“I wouldn’t say it’s more so a setback, I’d say it’s more so a blessing,” Murray said. “If you look at it the way I have and my family has, it is a blessing. For me, I learned how to be selfless at an extremely young age. I learned what true gratitude is at an extremely young age because of what I went through. When I was growing up, my mom and my dad did some things that were true acts of selflessness. Around the age of 11, my parents adopted three special-needs kids.”
According to NFL.com, it was 2009 when Murray’s parents, Kenneth Sr. and Dianne, learned of a family being investigated by Child Protective Services. As the pastor of a Baptist church in Missouri City, Texas, Kenneth Sr. had a heart to help those in his church, so he and Dianne agreed to take care of the children while the biological parents tried to get approval from CPS.
However, the parents were never deemed fit to take care of Nyia (the oldest sister, 8 years old at the time), Lenny (3) and James (a baby). So instead of letting the children be separated and put into foster care, the Murrays legally adopted all three.
“That’s a time that my parents were leaning on me a lot given that I was the oldest,” Kenneth Jr. told the Cowboys, adding, “It really forced me to be what you guys see on the field now, which is the product of a kid that’s a go-getter. … It’s definitely a situation that molded me and made me who I am today.”
There are moments in an interview where you learn something about a prospect that goes far beyond football.@OU_Football LB Kenneth Murray provided one of those moments in his interview with the #DallasCowboys. pic.twitter.com/rxq6vYKn8X
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 8, 2020
Any other stories teams might find that depict how Murray came to be the person and player he is today won’t disappoint. Such as the time he administered CPR to a pedestrian he thought might be dead. Or another time he gave CPR to the nephew of his trainer. Or the time he told his parents he plans to take care of all his siblings whenever his parents are no longer able to. When he declared for the NFL Draft, he told his new agent that his first concern was to set up funds for his siblings for long-term care.
The finances figure to come soon, as Murray is projected as a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, with most mock drafts placing him anywhere between Nos. 15-25. He was a third-team AP All-American and first-team All-Big 12 selection last year.
Whichever team drafts Murray will also get a contributor to the community. While at Oklahoma, he regularly visited the Children’s Hospital at the OU Medical Center, where he took part in the Art with a Heart program, and he also worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Norman, the J.D. McCarty Center, the Sparrow Project, Shane’s Hope, and the Norman Veterans Center.
Murray was also an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as he served on the leadership team at OU and was a speaker at several FCA events. Raised by a pastor and a police officer, Murray witnessed and learned Christian values such as serving and protecting others.
In announcing his intention to enter the NFL Draft, Murray released a video on social media in which he first gave all glory to God. Along with the video, he referenced 1 Thessalonians 5:24, which says, “The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” In his social media profiles, Murray lists himself as a “Follower of Jesus Christ.”
The 2020 NFL Draft begins Thursday at 8 p.m. ET with the first round. Rounds 2-3 will take place Friday (7 p.m.), and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday (12 p.m.). The entire event will be held online for the first time ever.
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