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What we learned about Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray by watching him on Twitch

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TEMPE, Ariz. — A few hours after quarterback Kyler Murray led the Arizona Cardinals to a Week 5 win over the San Francisco 49ers, he went home, sat down in front of his dual monitor setup, put a headset on over his Phoenix Suns hat and started playing one of his favorite games, NBA 2K22.

Then he turned on his Twitch livestream so his 77,400 followers could watch him hoop for 36 minutes on this particular Sunday.

Murray sits in his ergonomic gaming chair, listening to music, relaxing and playing the games that have become his way of decompressing after football.

“It’s a thing for us to just calm down and kind of just take a step back, have a different perspective,” Murray told ESPN.

“A lot of us love to do it, so it definitely helps the mental, because the game of football, the sport in general, is very emotional.”

But even though Murray is relaxing in the comfort of his own home, he’s not doing so in private. Like more than eight million other people, according to Statista.com, Murray streams himself playing games on Twitch, the popular platform, under the username @TheKylerMurray. Murray has 800 to 1,000 fans concurrently watching him play during the season. It’s a chance to glimpse the real Murray, often unseen in a public setting. Here, Murray’s personality, competitiveness and trash-talking are on full display.

“That’s how you dial up some s—, bruh,” Murray yells after throwing a touchdown to a virtual A.J. Green while playing Madden NFL 22. “You all see how I dialed that s— up?”

It’s an understatement to call Murray an avid gamer. His skills with a controller have even prompted some to ask if he could have a career in the profession.

ESPN watched Murray’s Twitch streams during the first third of the season to see what we could learn about one of the NFL’s top young talents. The result was a unique, often personal, mostly authentic look at who he is and what he loves.

“Every time I turn the stream on, it’s kind of like you’re being watched and you can be yourself — at the same time you can’t,” Murray said. “Obviously, you slip up and it’s gonna be all over the internet. So, you just got to find a happy medium being yourself and not being stupid.”

Growing up a gamer

Video games have been a part of Murray’s life for as long as he can remember.

His father, Kevin Murray, and uncle, Calvin Murray, played video games, as did his older brother, Kevin Murray Jr.

There was always a gaming system around Murray’s house, whether it was Atari or Nintendo, he said.

That passion for gaming was passed down to Murray, who started playing on a PlayStation, then switched to Xbox. Now he uses a personal computer as the hub for his video games. He plays Call of Duty on a PC but plays Madden on XBox through a PC on a gaming monitor with an XBox controller.

“It’s weird,” he said. “It’s complicated. It’s a lot.”

During the offseason, Murray tries to play any chance he gets and usually is in front of his system for a minimum of two or three hours at a time. He went live on his Twitch stream 23 times from late February to late July, when he shut it down for camp.

Last year, during the COVID-19 lockdown, Murray spent a lot of time playing — a lot.

“It kind of got ugly the amount of hours that everybody was spending on the video game,” Murray said. “It was like back when we were in middle school.”

How many hours was he playing?

“I don’t know if I want to admit that,” Murray said, laughing. “We definitely had to take some breaks. You got to take some breaks in there. Otherwise you get heated and stuff like that and, just, it’s bad for the mental.”

Murray laughed when he thought about how much he was playing during this offseason. His days consisted of working out and, well, video games.

“You can’t work out all day,” Murray said. “You got to take care of the body and stuff like that. It’s easy to play video games longer than it is to work out.”

Competitive trash-talker

Murray’s feed is divided into multiple sections on Twitch so people can see what’s on his screen while watching a live feed of him playing. There’s also a chat function so they can interact with Murray, giving them unprecedented access to an NFL MVP-caliber quarterback.

Murray keeps an eye on his chat while he plays, almost always thanking those who buy or gift subscriptions to his stream, which are $4.99 a month and allow subscribers to skip ads and just show their support for Murray. Twitch takes a percentage and he gets the rest. He will also respond to questions or comments here and there.

Murray cut down on his streaming when training camp started, not going live from July 23 to Sept. 13, the day after Arizona beat the Tennessee Titans to open the 2021 season. During the season, he’ll only turn on the stream after a win — which has been every week thus far — on Sunday nights after home games or Mondays after road trips. He doesn’t typically stream later in the week, closer to game day, as he gets more “locked in.”

A day after leading the Cardinals to a season-opening win — a game that included an early candidate for play of the year in which Murray scrambled 43.5 yards before completing a pass to rookie wide receiver Rondale Moore — Murray played Madden NFL 22.

In the first game, Murray was himself.

“You’re so ass,” Murray says to another player.

As he plays, the chat fills up with comments and questions. When one user suggests that Murray’s speed rating on Madden is lower than it should be, Murray says: “They definitely got my speed f—ed up on here.”

When another user tells Murray, “U different bro,” the quarterback responds with: “Moose, I appreciate you, bro,” in reference to the person’s username.

In the next game Murray played that session, he picked the Atlanta Falcons. And that’s when the competitive Murray comes out.

He gets mad when he throws a pick-six because the ball didn’t go to the outside shoulder, and when a Falcons defensive back drops a would-be interception, Murray yells “Oh, my gosh.”

While video games are, in large part, a medium for Murray to calm down and relax after games, they sometimes have the opposite effect.

His stream may have made him the most accessible quarterback ever, and it’s given fans an inside look at Murray’s competitiveness. He doesn’t like to lose — never has, never will. Not on the field and not on the screen.

“I may yell or scream more on the game, honestly,” Murray said. “Just because it’s just like bonehead s— that happens during the game. But in real life, in football, obviously guys are gonna make mistakes.”

Murray celebrated the Cardinals’ dominating win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4 with a 52-minute stream the next day. He had 550 people watching when he started at around 2:45 p.m. PT. They were given a front-row seat to the different sides of Murray. He was joyous and upbeat early on, yelling at the screen as he played himself against the Baltimore Ravens.

As the game went on, however, Murray’s competitiveness came through. He got quieter, focused on trying to win. At one point, he yelled at a virtual Markus Golden for dropping into coverage and then was livid with the game late in the fourth when DeAndre Hopkins dropped a pass.

“Oh, my God. This game is fake as s—,” Murray yelled. “That’s why I don’t play this bulls—, dog. That’s what I’m talking about. You all see this s—? You all see this s—? You all see this s—? This s— is so ass. I should’ve just ran it. Oh my gosh, the game’s f—ing dogs—.”

Hours after beating the Houston Texans on Sunday, Murray hopped on NBA 2K22 for an hour and 21 minutes while a house full of family and friends buzzed behind him. At one point, Murray’s mom, Missy, and a friend were in his gaming room and on the feed. Murray asked them to get out and then said to his friends on the stream: “Too much s—going on right now, bro.”

Murray is often laid-back, though, belching or telling someone off camera good night. He’ll offer up a random factoid about his life every now and then, such as that he doesn’t have any tattoos or that he doesn’t like avocados (“It’s just green and it’s like mushy”).

It’s not rare for friends or family who stay with him to walk in the room while he’s streaming or for them to have conversations across his home. His mom has made multiple appearances, even bringing him a sandwich during a session last offseason.

Often he’s interacting with fans. He reciprocates the love from a couple of his followers, who simply posted in the chat: “I love you.”

To which Murray says,” I love you, too.”

‘Playing with your friends’

In a lot of ways, Murray is a typical 24-year-old playing video games. He’s usually playing with or against guys he grew up with in Texas, friends from high school and the University of Oklahoma and current teammates. Games have allowed Murray to forge friendships with people from around the world.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “It’s crazy, but it’s a real thing.”

He chides his opponents and gives them a hard time. They talk about movies and music, with Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” playing in the background. Murray sings along, knowing every word.

And sometimes Murray “might have a friendly wager on the game and it gets real,” he said.

Streaming himself has allowed Murray to show another side. He likes to give fans a look at his face without a helmet on, in a totally different setting. It’s a “cool environment where I’m not just a football player.”

“Obviously, the spotlight’s on us a lot more — the spotlight is on me a lot more — as far as the NFL goes, but I feel like people, the more they talk to me or the more they watch me, I’m myself, a genuine guy that either you’re gonna love me or hate me, and probably it’s hard to hate me,” Murray said. “… I feel like fans enjoy getting to actually know on a personal level, somewhat see how guys act, see how they react, if they’re funny or not, stuff like that.”

What Murray enjoys most about playing video games is the same thing he enjoys most about playing football: winning.

“And the camaraderie of it all, just playing with your friends,” Murray said. “But, yeah, the ultimate goal in all of it is to win.”

Could Murray go pro in gaming?

If sports didn’t work out for Murray, he already had a career in mind.

“If I wasn’t an athlete, I’d probably be a gamer,” Murray said. “I think that’s one of the avenues I probably could have chosen. I don’t want to brag too much, but I was pretty good at video games.”

He still is, according to one of the best gamers in the world.

TimTheTatman, a well-known gamer out of Texas, first met Murray at Super Bowl LIV in Miami. TimTheTatman brought up playing together some time along with another gamer, Nickmercs. They all ended up following each other on social media and were soon playing Call of Duty together.

It didn’t take long for TimTheTatman to realize Murray wasn’t just a football player who plays video games as a hobby.

“Kyler is really good,” said TimTheTatman, who has 7 million followers on Twitch. “He really did impress me. You can tell he really knows what he’s doing.

“It’s just a different style of play and Kyler, you could tell that he was able to kind of keep up with that pacing.”

Murray already has a presence in the gaming world. He’s now streaming under the FaZe Clan umbrella. He joined FaZe, one of the largest esports and gaming organizations in the world, in April, along with Bronny James, son of LeBron James, and Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons. As FaZe members, which often consist of influential personalities across a variety of genres, they will create “lifestyle content” and stream.

Being part of the FaZe family has opened opportunities for Murray to play with well-known gamers on his stream. Other FaZe players, such as James, will pop into his stream once in a while and comment on the chat.

“They show love in the stream and it’s just amped my stream up as far as that goes,” Murray said. “But I don’t think it’s changed in any way.”

So could Murray be a professional gamer?

“I definitely think he could,” TimTheTatman said. “He has the skill set, obviously, not just in Call of Duty, but in general. But just his personality, as well. You can kind of tell that he has that ability to entertain and just kind of keep people engaged.

“I’d be pretty confident that if he really wanted to, he could slowly invest into gaming and do super well with that as well.”



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NFL Playoffs — Clutch kickers dominate in divisional-round showdowns

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It’s a good time to be an NFL kicker.

The AFC and NFC divisional games gave football fans everywhere a reason to root for their team’s kicker.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, there have only been 10 games in NFL postseason history which have ended with game-winning field goals as time expired in regulation. Three of them came this weekend — the first time there has been three in a single postseason.

In Saturday’s AFC Divisional Game, rookie Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired, pushing the underdog Cincinnati Bengals past the top-seeded Tennessee Titans, 19-16.

In his post-win news conference, quarterback Joe Burrow shared that McPherson was ready to call game before he even took the field.

In addition to the walk-off field goal, McPherson made all the three other field goals he attempted in the game. He’s now eight-of-eight in the playoffs.

Just a few hours later, the San Francisco 49ers also had their fate secured by a kicker as the game wound down.

Niners kicker Robbie Gould has made all 20 of his field goal attempts in the playoffs during his storied career. Saturday night was a sweet one with his 45-yard kick as time expired, sending the home team Green Bay Packers packing.

“You’re a f—ing legend man. F— the Packers,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said to Gould after the game.

On Sunday, more kickers had a say in their team’s result.

As time expired Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Rams were able to knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road thanks to a 30-yard field goal from Matt Gay.

Per ESPN Stats and Information, with the Bengals, 49ers and Rams all winning on the road, this is the third time where three road teams won in the divisional round since its inception in 1970.

And even though Harrison Butker had a shaky start to Sunday night’s game — including a missed field goal and extra point — the Kansas City Chiefs kicker nailed a game-tying 49-yard field goal at the end of regulation to force overtime against the Buffalo Bills.

Patrick Mahomes then went 75 yards and tossed the game-winning touchdown to Travis Kelce for a ticket to the Chiefs’ fourth straight AFC Championship Game.

The win by Kansas City, the No. 2 seed, was the only win by the home team all weekend.



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Bills watch victory slip away in 13 seconds as Chiefs end Buffalo’s postseason again – Buffalo Bills Blog

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen could have immediately run off the field, headed into the locker room and the offseason that awaited.

Instead, after embracing Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes moments after he had thrown the game-winning score Sunday night, Allen took his time and let his eyes linger. He looked around Arrowhead Stadium, watching Kansas City fans and players celebrate another postseason win and a berth in their fourth straight home AFC Championship Game.

“It was tough to be in that moment,” Allen said. “Holding on to that feeling and making sure that we don’t feel like this again. And like I said, back-to-back years in the same spot. It’s tough to take in, but it’s part of the game. It’s part of the learning process. …

“We got to use this and figure out how we can be better and how we can accomplish what we want to accomplish.”

The 42-36 loss to the Chiefs in overtime marked a second straight year the Bills’ season has come to an end against Kansas City. Buffalo has yet to win a road playoff game under coach Sean McDermott (0-4).

Their goal of reaching the Super Bowl — and of getting past the Chiefs — will have to wait at least another year. The Bills spent the offseason preparing to beat Kansas City after losing in last year’s AFC title game at Arrowhead.

This time, the game ended in devastating fashion on the first drive of overtime after the teams scored four times in the final two minutes of regulation.

“We just ended up on the wrong side of maybe one of the greatest games in postseason history,” center Mitch Morse said.

Wide receiver Gabriel Davis had a breakout performance Sunday night, becoming the first player in postseason history to catch four touchdown passes. He finished with eight receptions for 201 yards.

“Gabe had his opportunity tonight and he made some outstanding plays,” Allen said.

Despite the offense’s heroics, the Bills’ defense came up short when it was needed most. Trailing 36-33, the Chiefs got the ball back with just 13 seconds left before marching downfield in two plays, and Harrison Butker kicked a 49-yard game-tying field goal.

The 25 points scored in the last two minutes of regulation are the second most of regulation of any game in the Super Bowl era, per Elias Sports Bureau research.

“We talked about a lot of things,” McDermott said of the team’s approach to the end of the game. “I’m just gonna leave it at the execution. And that starts with me.”

The league’s No. 1 pass defense fell apart in overtime, allowing Mahomes to complete 6 of 6 passes, including the winning score to tight end Travis Kelce.

After an offseason partially built around addressing problems that came up last postseason against the Chiefs, especially the pass rush, the Bills have to get back to work on finding ways to get past Kansas City, something that will be no easy feat.

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and Kelce again had big games against the Bills, combining for 246 yards on 19 receptions and two touchdowns. Mahomes finished with 378 yards and three touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs were able to take wide receiver Stefon Diggs out of the game. He finished with three receptions on six targets for 7 yards and a successful 2-point conversion.

“[Diggs is] obviously one of our best players and we’ve got to make sure we’re getting him the ball,” McDermott said. “But at the end of the day, we scored to take the lead with 13 seconds left. So, there’s a lot we can talk about, but we put ourselves in a position to win the game.”

The Bills will now head into an offseason with limited cap room and changes on the way in the front office and potentially the coaching staff. Much of the team will be returning, although there are some key veteran decisions on the way, for yet another run at finding their way back to the big game.

Describe the game in two words: Heartbreaking end. The Bills’ No. 1 defense fell just short when the team needed stops with a trip to the AFC Championship Game at stake.

QB breakdown: Allen continued his postseason magic, completing 27 of 37 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 68 yards on 11 carries and had six rushing first downs, the most by a quarterback in the past two postseasons.

Allen finished the postseason with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. It wasn’t enough to come away with the win Sunday night, but Allen had some of his best performances of the season in the playoffs. He became the first player with four passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in back-to-back games in postseason history.

“[No.] 17 is always going to make a play with the ball in his hand — we got a lot of trust and faith in him,” Davis said. “He’s the best quarterback in the NFL and I stand by that, and I know that when it’s time to make plays, I know he’s gonna be there to make them.”

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Tom Brady says his thoughts are on Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ playoff exit, not own future

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady said Sunday night that it was too soon for him to think about his future and that his emotions were still tied to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ heart-breaking, last-second playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams that had ended just minutes earlier.

“Truthfully guys, I’m thinking about this game,” said Brady, who rallied the Bucs from a 27-3 second-half deficit only to watch them fall 30-27. “I’m not thinking about anything past five minutes from now.”

Brady’s comments came after ESPN reported earlier Sunday that the 44-year-old quarterback is undecided about his future, and that while he could return for another season, it is far from a given. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington that Brady plans to take time after the season ends — a month or longer — to assess how he feels physically and mentally while also gauging his family’s desires.

Brady indicated as much after Sunday’s loss.

“I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, so you know, we will just take it day by day and kind of see where we are at,” said Brady, who has one year left on his contract.

Asked if he thought about Sunday possibly being the final game of his career as he ran out of the South end zone tunnel at Raymond James Stadium, the seven-time Super Bowl winner said no.

“I was thinking about winning,” he said. “That’s kind of my mentality — always to go out there and try to win. Give my teammates the best chance to win.”

In the end, he ran out of weapons to throw to this season. No Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Breshad Perriman or Cyril Grayson. Tyler Johnson went down with a rib injury and Jaelon Darden a concussion. Tight end Cam Brate was lining up in the slot by game’s end Sunday, and at one point, Brady had a backup right guard filling in at right tackle, because his backup right tackle suffered an ankle injury, on top of a quad injury.

“It’s the reality of football,” said Brady, who lost in the divisional round for just the fourth time in his career. “Every team is really qualified when you get to the final eight, then the final four, then the final two and it doesn’t feel good to lose any one of those games, and I have lost each of those stages. So at the end, there is only one team that is going to be happy. It feels good to move on when you move on, and obviously when you don’t, whether it was last week or this week or next week, the week after, two weeks after that — if you are a loser in that game, it all sucks to lose in the end.”

Coach Bruce Arians said there’s no timetable for when a discussion with Brady about his future will take place.

“That’s totally up to Tom,” Arians said.

The Bucs don’t have a viable successor to Brady on their current roster.

Teammates, many of whom faced questions about Brady’s future this past week, acknowledged the reality of the situation.

“I know Tom’s a competitor. He always say he’s got something to prove, but what more can he do?” inside linebacker Lavonte David said. “He’s the GOAT. He’s done everything he can. If he comes back, obviously we’ll welcome him with open arms. But we’ll have to let him decide that for himself.”

Wide receiver Mike Evans said he won’t make any sort of pitch to Brady.

“I don’t have to say nothing to him,” Evans said. “He’s self-motivated. He knows what he wants. Hopefully we get him back next year. The best player ever, one of the best teammates and one of the best leaders I’ve ever seen.

“I’ve said the last two years: I’m super appreciative that he came to Tampa Bay. Nobody had no clue he was even leaving New England. Just very privileged to play with him.”

The Bucs have 24 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, including aging veterans who, like Brady, have decisions to make — outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, running back Leonard Fournette, tight end Rob Gronkowski and Jensen, to name a few.

Re-signing all 22 starters like they did last year may not be possible.

“It’s so tough. A lot of these guys are on the last year of their contracts,” David said. “I was the last one to walk in [the locker room]. Seeing the look in everybody’s eyes, it was like, ‘This is a tough one.’ You hate to go out in such a manner. At the end of the day, you know the locker room isn’t going to be the same next year.

“You build relationships with guys and to see them go out the way we did — some people are going to have to move on to certain places. It’s going to be tough because this is the most tight locker room I have ever been around with the greatest chemistry with guys on and off the field. Great leadership with the young guys and the old guys just gelling together. … It’s like a real family-like atmosphere. Luckily you do build bonds with those guys to wish them well in their future endeavors, but we all know it’s gonna be different next year.”

Pierre-Paul, who just turned 33, will undergo surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff he’s played with all season. Asked if he wants to continue playing, he said, “I don’t know. We’ll see after my surgery.”

Fournette, the fourth overall draft pick in 2017 who found a career resurgence with the Bucs after getting released by the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2020 season, added: “I’m proud of this group — I’m proud of these guys and I’m happy to call myself a Buccaneer.”

A number of players stayed in the locker room long after Sunday’s game was over.

“You have to cherish the relationships that you have with this team,” Fournette said. “They don’t come around too often like that. One of the best groups of guys and coaching staffs I’ve been around. We went out, the way we didn’t want to go out, but at the end of the day, I’m just blessed to be a part of this organization, to have guys like Tom Brady, Gronk, Mike [Evans], Scotty [Miller], [Ryan] Jensen…guys like that…It’s hard, it’s tough.”

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