DeMarco Murray Q&A: Talking Derrick Henry, Cowboys' success, fantasy and more

1:20 | NFL
NFL's Week 14 Gameplan
Friday December 9th, 2016

What a three-year stretch for Titans running back DeMarco Murray. With the Cowboys in 2014 Murray led the league in both rushing (1,845 yards) and was tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (13) with the now-retired Marshawn Lynch. Then free agency hit, and the Cowboys couldn’t fathom paying Murray his market value, allowing the All-Everything back to sign with their division-rival Eagles.

Murray turned out to be a schematic mismatch for Chip Kelly’s offense, rushing for only 702 yards and six touchdowns in 2015. Contention with the Eagles’ front office reportedly swelled until Murray was traded to the Titans where he has looked much closer to his ’14 self. Entering Week 14 Murray has 1,043 rushing yards, eight touchdowns and a bruising 4.6 yards per carry, and his Titans narrowly have the edge in AFC South in a tight three-way battle.

SI caught up with Murray last week at the grand opening of the adidas flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. He reflected on being a veteran at 28 years old, the current state of the NFL running back and how little he cares about your fantasy football playoffs.

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Melissa Jacobs: You are able to be here in New York because your team had a bye in Week 12. How do you feel about having the break so late in the season?

DeMarco Murray: I don’t mind it. We’re in the scheme of things and you have the 12 games behind you so it’s nice to get a little rest and be ready to duke it out for a four-game tournament. Looking at it in the beginning [of the season], you’re definitely a little skeptical, but we’ve been fairly healthy as a team.

MJ: Including you? Are you feeling O.K.?

DM: Yes, completely.

MJ: The last three seasons have been quite a roller coaster. An All-Pro season in Dallas 2014, followed by a down year in Philly, and now you’re a top-five rusher again. How have you mentally dealt with the ups and downs?

DM: You have to believe in yourself. I’m fortunate to have a great family and great friends that help me stay positive. But mostly believing in myself and trusting what I’ve always done.

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MJ: What is it like watching the success of the Cowboys this year?

DM: I think they’re doing a great job. The two young guys [Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott] are playing well. Jason Witten is playing well. They’re just rolling, so congrats to them and hopefully they can keep it rolling. The offensive line is great, I still talk to those guys. They’re the best, and they’ll be the best for a long time to come.

MJ: You have another phenom rookie running back on your team. At 28, you’re kind of the aged veteran. That’s weird, right?

DM: Yeah, you look at it, it’s my sixth year. I don’t like to use the word vet, I like to simply say ballplayer. But I’m not an old guy by any means.

MJ: I didn’t mean old, just far more experienced than your 22-year-old teammate Derrick Henry. How do you balance being a mentor to him while competing with him for snaps?

DM: I think that gets misconstrued, not just for running backs but any position be it quarterbacks, receivers... You always want to influence the young guys as much as you can in a positive way. I think you would be doing a disservice to your team and to them to not give them all the tools to help make then successful, to help make them better in the long run. So for me, I’ve always lent a helping hand and tried to mentor. But at the same time you have to come to work, and you want to play and make plays. So you have to make the plays when you have the opportunity.

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MJ: How do you feel about fantasy football?

DM: I don’t pay any attention to it and I don’t understand it. I’m just not a big fantasy football guy.

MJ: I assume people are constantly hitting you up about it on social media?

DM: All the time. I just don’t answer them or pay any attention. It’s just not something I worry about.

MJ: How do you describe the current state of the NFL running back?

DM: [When it comes to the top teams in the league, you often talk about the quarterback, but] usually there’s a great running game. I don’t think you can be one-dimensional in this league. You have guys like Tom Brady, he’s a step away from everyone in this league, but I won’t say he doesn’t need a running game because he does lean on LeGarrette Blount when he can’t get it going in the passing game. If you look at other teams—the Steelers, Dallas, obviously, Houston—these teams are two-dimensional and can run the ball.

MJ: Finally the NFL scheduled its #MyCleatMyCause campaign when the Titans were on a bye. If you had been playing last week how would you have had adidas design your shoes?

DM: adidas knows this and sometimes they get mad at me, but I love all white, all-white platinum. But maybe would design something [to promote] my foundation which helps the underprivileged and kids with medical needs, [with] a little sign or ribbon [on the shoe].

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