Murray holds the records for most passing yards and touchdown passes in a league that produced Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning (plus Eli), and Murray’s predecessor, Matthew Stafford.
Tebow won a playoff game in the NFL. The Manning Brothers are Hall of Famers. Stafford leads a talented Los Angeles Rams offense. But what about Murray? Where did he go?
Aaron Murray is a myth, on par with Hercules and Icarus.
Like all myths, adherents swear it true, though the evidence is hard to find. Those who saw Murray play claim he was one of the best of all time, and his numbers back the belief. But how could one of the greatest disappear so quickly?
It’s a tale as old as time. Some people peak too early.
Like all myths, Murray’s story is circular. Through trials and tribulations, friends and enemies, and victories and losses, Murray’s path landed him right back where it began: in a humid Florida town known as Tampa.
Aaron Murray’s Early Life
Aaron Murray was born on November 10, 1990 in Tampa, Florida, when “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice chilled the radio waves from coast to coast. In the music video, Vanilla Ice rocks University of Miami gear, the alma mater of Murray’s future head coach, Mark Richt.
Murray, by all accounts, lived an All-American life down in Tampa. He played all sorts of sports growing up, but eventually settled on football. His older brother (& former Bachelor) Josh Murray and father Dennis Murray both played professional baseball. However, Aaron had to go his own way.
Murray’s path led him to transfer from Jesuit High School to Plant High School in Tampa for three football seasons. His transfer proved a smart move, and Murray was a five-star recruit by his senior high school season. Murray’s next choice was crucial — to be a Florida Gator or a Georgia Bulldog?
Murray’s aversion to jean shorts led him to Georgia Football. He committed to the Dawgs in 2008 and joined the team the following year.
Aaron Murray at UGA
University of Georgia fans weren’t sure who was up next. It’s tough to replace a talent like Stafford. Murray did all of that and more.
But Aaron’s ascent didn’t begin right away. He filled in the depth chart behind Joe Cox in 2009 before getting his chance the following year. As a starting quarterback, Murray had a decent 2010 regular season. The Georgia Bulldogs did not.
Still, UGA fans remained hopeful about the slightly undersized gunslinger.
The 2011 season was Murray’s breakout performance, even if the Bulldogs bookended their year with four losses. All of the losses were to ranked teams, so UGA fans weren’t too upset about it.
Murray’s loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl only fueled his drive for 2012.
The 2012 campaign was one of the most successful UGA seasons of all time. Aaron Murray and running back Todd Gurley had themselves one helluva field day between the hedges and lost the SEC Championship Game to Alabama by a mere five yards.
Murray’s 2012 was much better than the ancient Mayans could’ve predicted. Many thought Murray might be ready to jump to the NFL, but “A-aron” wanted another Saturday down south.
Murray skipped the NFL draft to come back to UGA for his redshirt senior season after beating the corn out of Nebraska down under during the Outback Bowl.
Coming back for his last year may not have been a wise decision. UGA Richt’d their season away, went 8-5, lost to Auburn, and allowed Nebraska to get their revenge in the Gator Bowl (Dawgs losing the Gator Bowl? That’s a double-whammy).
And, to continue piling, Murray blew out his ACL in a late-season blowout win against Kentucky. Yikes, yikes, yikes.
Murray’s college career ended prematurely in November 2013 without ever once being considered for a Heisman Trophy. His injury afforded him a six-month offseason to rehab before the 2014 NFL Draft in New York.
Aaron Murray’s Professional Career
South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney — a man who made Murray’s life hell in college — went No. 1 in 2014.
Just like in college, Murray went way under Clowney in the draft. The Kansas City Chiefs selected Aaron Murray as a fifth-round pick, 163rd overall.
The Chiefs drafted Murray to back up Alex Smith, hoping to crown Aaron Chief in the future. But Kansas City waived Murray in 2016, one season before they drafted Patrick Mahomes. They probably made the right choice.
Over the next six months, free agent Murray was signed and waived by three practice squads: the Arizona Cardinals, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams gave Murray the horns in 2017, and that was all she wrote for the SEC’s all-time leader in touchdowns and his NFL career.
Murray never lived up to his ESPN hype, but that doesn’t mean he stopped trying. After a year broadcasting for CBS, Murray donned his helmet on once again.
This time, it wasn’t the National Football League.
Aaron Murray Now
Aaron Murray returned to Georgia in 2018 to play with Atlanta Legends in the doomed Alliance of American Football. Never heard of it? That’s because the league didn’t even last a season. Murray claims they didn’t receive payments for their first game. Overall, the AAF sounds like a hilarious shit-show on par with the Fyre Festival.
Undeterred by his bad experience with professional football leagues not named the NFL (and, I suppose, with football leagues named the NFL), Murray had one final shot at redemption in 2020.
Murray went in the 2020 XFL Draft as a “Tier 1” QB. Murray’s XFL career began and ended in the same city his football career began and ended: Tampa Bay, baby.
Murray joined the Tampa Bay Vipers in November 2019. He threw some touchdowns and interceptions before the league collapsed (for a second time) in April 2020, before they even had their first playoffs.
The former Atlanta Legends quarterback is a Georgia Legend who may never loosen his grip on history. His college numbers showed Murray had the strength of a Hercules, but like Icarus, Murray may have flown too close to the Sun.
When his wings melted against Kentucky in 2013, Murray crashed back to Earth, never to recover again.
Like all myths, that’s an exaggeration. Murray is alive and well today with a wife and son. His football story may have ended where it started, but Aaron Murray’s story is far from over.