Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray chooses NFL over baseball: 'Football has been my love and passion my entire life'

MESA, Ariz. — When Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy, the Athletics knew there was a chance he might chose football over baseball.

That’s exactly what happened.


On the day the A’s started spring training workouts, Murray said Monday he will pursue an NFL career.

“We took the best athlete on the board and who we thought was probably the best baseball player on the board too,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “We’ve known all along this was a possibility. We knew he had a great option in the NFL, so we’ve known for a while that there was a chance this was going to happen.”


Murray, an outfielder, was the ninth pick in the baseball draft in June and agreed to a minor-league contract with the A’s that included a $4.66 million signing bonus. He then played quarterback for Oklahoma last fall and posted the second-best passing efficiency rating in FBS history. He declared his intention last month to enter the NFL draft, which starts April 25.

The A’s had a locker with a No. 73 jersey waiting for him.

“I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback,” Murray tweeted. “Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100 percent of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships.

“I have started an extensive training program to further prepare myself for upcoming workouts and interviews. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft.”

Murray’s baseball deal called for him to receive $1.5 million within 30 days of the deal’s approval last summer by Major League Baseball and $3.16 million on March 1. He must return six-sevenths of the money he received, or $1,285,714. While there is a provision for a team to get an extra pick in the next draft if it fails to sign a player selected before the fourth round, there is no such provision for a player who signed and then decided not to play.

Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders played both football and baseball, but Jackson was a running back and Sanders a cornerback.

“Quarterback is a very demanding position, as is being a major-league baseball player,” A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said. “To say somebody could or couldn’t, I’m not here to say that. Something like that is something that is part of our private discussions.”

Said A’s manager Bob Melvin: “He’s one of those rare athletes who any sport that he played, he’d probably excel at.”


Murray passed for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns for Oklahoma last season and ran for 1,001 yards and 12 scores.

“Obviously the fact that he would want to play quarterback, if he chooses the football route, is a little different than Deion or Bo or some of those guys,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in November. “But he athletically is so gifted and can transition between the two.”