What do Kyler Murray and Elon Musk have in common?
According to serial entrepreneur Bill Gross, timing is the single biggest reason start-ups have success. Airbnb took off during a recession, when people needed extra cash desperately enough to rent their house out to strangers. Uber followed that same trajectory.
Perhaps no one had more impeccable timing than Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Musk was an initial investor in Tesla in the early 2000's, just after the General Motors "EV1" electric car experiment collapsed.
The EV1 went to market in the 90's, during peak American consumerism. We had better things to worry about than renewable energy, like Saved by the Bell or the VH1 awards.
Actually, even Tesla got to market too quick. In 2003, when two engineers founded the company out of California, the American people were consumed with the Iraq War, Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton.
But by the time Elon Musk took over as CEO in 2008, the world was ready. Al Gore had injected climate change into our national zeitgeist with his controversial film, An Inconvenient Truth, and suddenly there was a public push for renewable energy. President Barack Obama put in place the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program, which enabled Tesla to borrow a whopping $456 million from the government.
Tesla survived, in part, because they came to market during a time of national reckoning. If not for that government loan - which by all intents and purposes saved Tesla - Musk certainly would've found success elsewhere (like he has with his new company SpaceX) but he may not be worth $87 billion like he is today.
He may have been Michael Vick, but turned out to be Kyler Murray.
That's right, I think Kyler Murray is the next evolution to Michael Vick. Murray is what Vick could've been with better timing.
Vick came into the NFL in 2001, around the same time as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The league had its key figures, and they stood in the pocket, instead of running out of it. The NFL and its consumers didn’t see value in accommodating the Michael Vicks of the world. There could never be another Vick, could there?
As a result, playcallers never fully committed to figuring out how to design gameplans for mobile quarterbacks. League rules were never set up to protect them. None of that happened until Michael Vick was out of his prime.
The same reason GM's EV1 didn’t work in the 90’s is the same reason Michael Vick only played 16 games once in his career, and never fulfilled his potential as a player. Timing. The market wasn’t ready.
Kyler, on the other hand, had a twenty-year-long runway to take off into this version of the NFL. It started with Vick. It continued with Cam Newton in 2011 - who used to get crushed on the same sliding plays that got Kyler Murray multiple "roughing the passer" calls last week against the 49ers.
Kyler's runway grew with the emergence of Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, all mobile quarterbacks who are vital to the NFL's future. If there's no protection for those guys, what does the NFL have left?
I don't worry about Kyler's health much. I know Kingsbury does. I know Keim does. But, Kyler plays in a league that has every incentive to expand a rulebook that's already designed to protect its most valuable assets. If Kyler Murray keeps playing like he has been, he'll be as valuable to the NFL as Elon Musk is to Tesla.