In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.
"I'm going to play all 16."
It was just a quote, the kind of nothing platitude DeMarco Murray has been dishing reporters since they started lingering back in high school, when he was breaking records in Vegas. But in the setting he uttered those six words -- after an off-season workout he missed because of a strained hamstring -- they might have made a good, repeatable mantra: I'm going to play all 16. I'm going to ... I'm going to ... I'm ...
You remember the day Murray pounded his way into your good graces: Week 7, 2011. He started the morning as a rookie Sooner who even after five games was languishing beneath Tashard Choice and Felix Jones on the depth chart, a feat of considerable mediocrity. Then Choice fumbled, and the touches started coming.
You were still polishing your first beer when Murray inched his toes over the two-yard hash mark, stutter-stepped and took the ball in his gut. A burst later he was in the Rams' secondary, crossing up the safety with a subtle direction change and coasting to the end zone, while you unsubtly tried to add him to your fantasy team. He racked up 253 that day, a Cowboy record. Even more impressive: He started to make you think Jerry Jones had done something right.
But then came the injuries. Seven weeks later a giant Giant landed on Murray's ankle, breaking it. He missed another six games in 2012 with a foot injury. In the NFL, despite every guy being hurt on every play of every season, that's all the DNPs it takes for a label to stick. "Durability is an issue," ESPN says, and: "Should we trust him?" He's "injury-prone" and "injury-riddled" and an "injury waiting to happen."
But look: Aren't they all? Aren't we all?
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No matter. All Murray will hear between now and his next breakout game is whether he's tough enough for the league, along with the occasional curveball about Tony Romo's contract or who's calling the plays. He's smart to start practicing now, honing those air quotes: "I'm going to play all 16," he said, and "I'm back to where I need to be" and "I'm excited to continue to work hard and get to training camp."
He better be, you're probably thinking: Choice and Jones are gone, and Murray is sitting safely at the top of the depth chart, a lone back in a two-back league. We need you to play all 16, you're saying, and he's trying to tell you: I'm going to ...
I'm going to ...
I'm going to ...