For­mer Of­fen­sive Player of the Year was re­leased by Ti­tans four months ago

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The 2014 Of­fen­sive Player of the Year says he is re­tir­ing, four months af­ter be­ing cut by the Ten­nessee Ti­tans.

De­Marco Murray is re­tir­ing from the NFL.

The 2014 Of­fen­sive Player of the Year made the an­nounce­ment on ESPN on Fri­day, four months af­ter be­ing re­leased by the Ten­nessee Ti­tans.

Murray, 30, lost his job to Der­rick Henry last sea­son and was due to make $6.25 million in 2018 when the Ti­tans let him go. He ran for 659 yards and six touch­downs last sea­son, dealt with a knee in­jury late in the year, and missed the Ti­tans’ final reg­u­larsea­son game and two play­off con­tests.

“I think you just wake up,” Murray said. “I’ve al­ways heard the say­ing when you know, you know, and one day that day will come, and for me it was the last year or two. … I’ve been con­stantly think­ing about this. Work­ing out still, in great shape, feel great and it’s time.

“I just woke up a cou­ple weeks ago and it started to burn and burn and trigger and it got deeper, so this morn­ing I de­cided to call it a ca­reer.”

The Ti­tans ac­quired Murray in a March 2016 trade with the Eagles. Murray had spent one year with Philadel­phia af­ter play­ing four sea­sons with the Cow­boys. Murray was play­ing for Dal­las in 2014 when he won the NFL rush­ing ti­tle and Of­fen­sive Player of the Year honors.

He was a dom­i­nant force that sea­son for the Cow­boys, who went 12-4 to win the NFC East. Murray ran for a league-best 1,845 yards, then signed a five-year, $40 million deal as a free agent with Philadel­phia in 2015.

With the Eagles, Murray started eight of 15 games played and ran 193 times for a team-best 702 yards.

The Ti­tans couldn’t wait to add Murray as a run­ning threat to help pro­tect quar­ter­back Mar­cus Mar­i­ota. Be­hind a re­vamped of­fen­sive line, Murray proved very durable, play­ing through a torn plan­tar plate in his right foot. Murray led the AFC and was third in the NFL with 1,287 yards rush­ing on 293 car­ries. It was se­cond-most car­ries of his ca­reer and his se­cond-best rush­ing sea­son.

But last year was prob­lem­atic and ended in in­jury. And now, with­out a team or a job, Murray is leav­ing foot­ball.

“I’m very blessed to have had the coach­ing staff and the play­ers and team­mates that I’ve been for­tu­nate to play with the last seven years of my ca­reer,” Murray said. “It’s been a long time think­ing the last year or two phys­i­cally, men­tally, emo­tion­ally. I think it’s time for me to hang it out there. As hard as it is … the fans have been great. I had a lot of great games and a lot of great team­mates. It’s bit­ter­sweet, but I think for me it’s the right tim­ing for my­self and my fam­ily mov­ing for­ward.”

CATCH RULE: Walt Cole­man doesn’t see the re­vamped catch rule as a big change for NFL game of­fi­cials be­cause the vet­eran ref­eree be­lieves they’ve al­ready been calling catches the new way.

If any­thing, Cole­man fig­ures there will be fewer re­views of their rul­ings.

“Most of the calls that seemed to cre­ate the most con­tro­versy, we ruled them cor­rectly and then they were over­turned on re­play,” Cole­man said Fri­day as of­fi­cials gath­ered for their an­nual pre­sea­son meet­ing in the Dal­las area. “From our stand­point, we’re just go­ing to con­tinue to of­fi­ci­ate the plays like we have.”

League own­ers unan­i­mously ap­proved the changes in April — more than three years af­ter Dez Bryant’s in­fa­mous catch that wasn’t in Dal­las’ play­off loss at Green Bay, and just a few months since Pitts­burgh’s Jesse James had a late go-ahead touch­down taken away in a loss to New England that dam­aged the Steel­ers’ hopes for the AFC’s top seed.

Es­sen­tially, the new rule elim­i­nates the ground as a fac­tor on catches while es­tab­lish­ing three main cri­te­ria: —hav­ing con­trol of the ball; —get­ting two feet down or an­other body part;

—mak­ing a foot­ball move, such as tak­ing a third step or ex­tend­ing the ball.

On the plays in­volv­ing Bryant and James, the ball moved slightly af­ter hit­ting the ground as they ex­tended it for­ward, even though they never lost con­trol of it. Both were ruled catches and over­turned on re­view.


Run­ning back De­Marco Murray (29), shown div­ing for a touch­down in 2016, an­nounced his re­tire­ment Fri­day.

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