NEW YORK — Kyler Murray yawned the yawn of a Heisman Trophy winner, a deep, deep pause that otherwise stops the world at large.
Seated at a round table outside the Heisman auxiliary suite on the ninth floor of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, Murray rubbed his eyes and fiddled with a shred of paper and yawned again as he pondered more questions about the night that forever changed his life.
“It was a surreal moment that, like I’ve said many times, I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Murray said some 18 hours after winning the 84th Heisman Trophy.
“I don’t want to say I’m done, but it’s kind of like a checkpoint of all the hard work that started back when I was a little kid. It was crazy. And everything I dreamed of.”
Murray and his mom and dad celebrated well into the night. He said he didn’t get to sleep until 4 a.m., and then after just a few hours of rest found himself back on a shuttle headed to the CBS studios for a round of television interviews. After that, he dropped by nearby Kravis Children’s Hospital/Mount Sinai for the usual winner’s visit with sick kids.
That one kind of woke him up.
The Lion’s Den is a faux TV studio that streams into the children’s ward, and every year the Heisman winner sits in on “interviews” with the kids. It’s a powerful experience.
“It was good,” Murray said. “It was good to give back to them. I can’t imagine being in there. It’s the least I could do, give back to them and show my appreciation.”
Up next for the Sooners’ latest Heisman winner — after a sandwich, that is — was trying to break another of Baker Mayfield’s records: fastest to sign the Heisman’s 300 footballs. Tim Tebow held the record of 43 minutes before Mayfield shattered it last year with a 33-minute performance.
“I’m going to try to go for (the record),” Murray said. “That might cause (Mayfield) to look a little bad, but I try to do my best.”
One Mayfield record Murray can’t touch: Mayfield didn’t sleep at all last year until after his media obligations and hospital visit had concluded the following day.
“He got to go out and have fun though,” Murray said.
For his 2:30 afternoon interview, Murray wore a gray Jordan Brand jacket and joggers with his iPhone earbuds in. Sunday night, he’ll dress up again in a suit as the guest of honor at the annual Heisman Dinner Gala. He and dozens of other former winners perched on risers at the front of the Broadway Ballroom will hear stories of the anniversary winners — 25th anniversary winner Charlie Ward of Florida State and 10th anniversary winner Sam Bradford of OU — and then, one last time before hopping a plane back to Oklahoma, Murray will give one more acceptance speech as he’s formally welcomed into the Heisman brotherhood.
(The Heisman Trust also honors the 50th anniversary winner every year, but has decided to skip that one this year and let O.J. Simpson stay home.)
Murray also addressed the controversy that arose after his win Saturday night: USA Today reported that as a 14-year-old, Murray posted homophobic tweets on his Twitter feed.
He’s only the most recent high-profile athlete exposed for using poor judgment on social media as a teenager, and he said he took action after Mariners pitcher Josh Hader’s offensive Twitter past came to light during Hader’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game appearance in July.
“I’ve deleted multiple tweets since then,” Murray said. “I don’t want to tell on myself or anything, but yeah. I thought they were all gone. But yeah, I guess I missed some. It’s just part of it.”
Murray said it was a lesson learned.
“I’ve always been mindful of what I was saying,” he said. “I just didn’t — on Twitter, it was kind of like texting your boys. That’s how we always — when I first got Twitter, when Twitter was first open, we could say whatever we wanted to say and it wasn’t a big deal. If I would’ve known — I’m not going to go around saying these (things) around people but no, it’s a learning lesson obviously and something that won’t happen again.”
He said the late night bulletin “didn’t ruin anything for me” as he celebrated with family, but wanted to remind young people that there are more eyes than ever watching them today.
“They’re growing up with it,” he said. “It’s bigger now than it was then. They’ve seen it all, probably. But yeah, at the same time, yeah, you’ve got to watch what you say. You don’t want to be represented the wrong way for doing stuff or saying the wrong stuff. I think it’s a good learning lesson for everybody.”
After flying to Atlanta for the Home Depot College Football Awards Show and then being whisked around New York in a flurry of Heisman activity, Murray said he’s eager to get back to routine — although the presidential treatment “has been nice,” he said.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting back home and seeing my teammates and friends,” he said. “It’s good to be back and kind in a normal life and reality and stuff like that. I can’t wait to get home.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.