Kyler Murray, Faze Clan Join Forces As Gaming Organization’s Newest Member, Investor

 Kyler Murray, Faze Clan Join Forces As Gaming Organization’s Newest Member, Investor

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has joined popular and influential gaming organization FaZe Clan as its newest member and is in the process of being an official investor, the company announced Monday.

The 23-year-old top overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft has been gaming since the age of five and has been a fan of FaZe since middle school, he said, and is releasing a limited capsule collection of a hoodie and t-shirt that go on sale Thursday. The launch coincides with this week’s NFL Draft, with FaZe members participating in the league’s draft-a-thon, raising money toward pandemic relief.

“This is probably one of the things that I’ve done as far as my career that I’m most excited about, being a part of FaZe, tapping into the gaming world,” Murray said. “I know the following that FaZe has, the kids that live the game. I’m obviously an athlete, but for people to see the other side of that, see that I play video games, it’s crazy. And you add the merch to it, I think it’s gonna be crazy.”

The collaboration between Murray and the company came about quickly and organically, said he and FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink. With nearly 11 million followers on Instagram and more than 5 million each on both Twitter and TikTok, FaZe has a tremendous amount of popularity among gaming’s massive Gen Z demographic. Murray, who played collegiately at Oklahoma, said he’s a massive gamer who plays at least three hours a day on his busiest days. He plays a variety of games from Call of Duty and FIFA and NBA 2K and Madden.

“I tell people all the time,” he said, “if I didn’t play sports I think I’d be a pro gamer.”

FaZe has competitive esports teams in Call of Duty with the Atlanta FaZe as well as Fortnite, FIFA, Valorant, CS:GO, Rocket League, Rainbow Six and PUBG. It has various celebrity members like NBA All-Star Ben Simmons, LeBron James Jr. and rappers Lil’ Yachty and Offset as well as investors like Jimmy Iovine.

“The group of kids who grew up on FaZe coming into their own, now they’re coming out of that community as heavyweights like Kyler,” Trink said. “It’s pretty incredible to see that, to hear people talk about their perception of FaZe and getting introduced to FaZe at a young age and then following the brand as we grew up. It’s almost like we all grew up together.”

Whereas a focus among mainstream media outlets has been gaming’s influence on the future of Gen Z culture, a Deloitte survey of digital media trends published last week among Gen Z consumers aged 14-24 said that video gaming is their top entertainment activity. Roughly 26% of Gen Z responders said video gaming was number one, with listening to music coming in a distant 2nd at 14%. In that 14-24 age group, 87% of them said they play video games daily or weekly.

“The misunderstanding with older demographics is that they don’t really understand the cultural significance of gaming and the impact on youth culture as a lifestyle,” Trink said. “It’s come to be, from a lifestyle side, really driving youth culture.”

It’s why tapping into the gaming world as a collaborator and an investor rather than just as a gamer is something that was instantly appealing to Murray, who will go by the gamer tag FaZe K1. He’s been watching FaZe Clan’s group of streamers for years and is excited to join forces on merchandise, content and social media collaborations.

“We want to support Kyler in everything that he wants to do,” Trink said, “whether it’s just promoting things that he’s interested in or collaborating on ideas and business ideas.”

Murray is also a prolific young passer on the field with the Cardinals, which included a viral Hail Mary pass to beat the Buffalo Bills in a regular season game last year. It’s something he’s reminded of every day, even though he said he would’ve rather been kneeling down in the victory formation at the ends of games.

“I’m more worried about making the playoffs, winning Super Bowls,” Murray said. “I don’t think about it as much as fans do, but it was definitely a big deal. I’m proud to be a part of it, but at the end of the day it’s not what I’m shooting for.”

The recipient of that pass, All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, is someone Murray said he’s grown a close bond with over the last year. He called it a quarterback-receiver bond that you can’t quite explain, but is just there. With the coronavirus pandemic limiting the number of reps the duo could have together and with no preseason games in 2020, Murray didn’t truly grasp Hopkins’ greatness until their first regular season game together.

In week one against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, Murray and Hopkins connected for 14 receptions for 151 yards in the upset road win, cementing Murray’s opinion of the former Houston Texan great.

“I already knew who he was who he said he was, but to see it in live action is a lot different,” Murray said. “And you know you just gotta respect a dude like that. I think he’s the best in the league and one of the best to ever put cleats on.”

Murray also got to team with another all-time wide receiver last year in Larry Fitzgerald, whose playing status for 2021 is still unknown as he contemplates his NFL future.

“I think Fitz might be on a golf course right now,” Murray joked, sort of. “I’ve been letting Fitz do his thing. As far as his decision or anything like that, I don’t know. I’m not really sure what’s going on.”

As far as FaZe’s future, with Murray now on board, Trink remains bullish about the possibilities the organization has, which includes further investment in esports and content.

“What FaZe has planned is to continue blowing people’s minds with the moves that we make. To keep people on their toes, keep our fans excited,” Trink said. “And we’re gonna continue to push the boundaries with whatever gaming can or can’t do.”

Keeping their fans on their toes certainly includes this Murray announcement, which the QB has been excited about for quite some time.

“Just to be able to represent them, be a part of the family,” he said, “the love is mutual. It’s a big deal.”