Hours after the team announced it had signed wide receiver Louis Murphy to a 3-year contract extension, the 27-year-old veteran addressed the local media Friday afternoon about his belated Christmas present.
“Best Christmas ever,” the St. Petersburg native and graduate of Lakewood High and the University of Florida said in the media room at One Buc Place. Instead of speaking to the press on the field immediately following Friday’s final practice of the season, Murphy chose to wait until he officially inked his name on his new deal.
The team has yet to release the exact terms of the 3-year deal, but Murphy said he’s thankful for the opportunity to play for his hometown team.
“Being home playing for the Bucs – I’ve been a Bucs fan my entire life – for this deal to be done I’m thankful and like I said words can’t explain how I feel right now,” he said. “It’s a blessing. It took me six years to get to this point and it’s been a tough road. I commend my family for being there and sticking by my side. It means everything, it’s a blessing and I can’t take any of the credit. I’m a firm believer in Christ and I just believe that things happen for a reason.”
Tampa Bay is Murphy’s fourth NFL stop in his six-year career. He spent his first three season (2009-11) in Oakland, then bounced to Carolina in 2012 and the New York Giants in 2013 before getting picked up by the Bucs this past offseason.
Head coach Lovie Smith said Murphy’s extension is an example of what can be achieved with a strong work ethic and determined effort.
“He’s been a consistent performer from our offseason workouts,” Smith said Friday afternoon. “He’s been showing up every day, he’s done everything, he’s competed hard. He started at the bottom and worked himself up and he performed.
“But he’s just been one of our guys and you want to reward players who have taken the long way and earned it the right way. So we like him and when he was healthy and ready to go, he was our third receiver, did some positive things and he’s somebody that we want to keep building with.”
Coming to work every day with a goal-oriented mindset is something Murphy said his father instilled into him long ago.
“My dad always told me growing up, ‘When preparation and opportunity meet it equals success,’ ” Murphy said. “So this year I wrote it on my bathroom wall and just took that every day, this opportunity that I have, don’t let it slip by.
“Early on in the game you can drop a ball and be like, ‘Aw, well I got another chance at this.’ The road that I’ve taken and the road that I had to go through, I was like, ‘No, I’m not letting anything slip through the cracks.’ And that’s just how I’m going to keep it and take that mindset from here on out.”
The 2014 Bucs season has mostly been one to forget and Murphy’s year ended during Week 15’s home loss to Carolina after recording 31 receptions for 380 yards and two touchdowns. But Murphy believes this team is headed in the right direction and wants to be here when things turn for the better.
“I believe in this team, I believe in Coach Lovie, I believe in the organization – Jason [Licht], Coach Lovie, our receivers coach [Coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker] – I believe in all the guys that are in that locker room regardless of what the record says,” Murphy said. “I believe that we’re going to be contenders in the future and I want to be part of it. I want to see it turn around.”
Love the attitude. Hopefully this commitment by the organization will inspire Murphy to continue to do the things necessary to elevate his game.
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