Not long after the Chiefs played the Bears at Soldier Field during the preseason, Luke Ford planned his trip to Kansas City to visit Jimmy Murray.
Former football teammates with Murray at both Loyola and Holy Cross, Ford wanted to hang out with his friend and show support for Murray, a rookie in the Chiefs organization.
When Ford (Class of 2013) booked his flight for this weekend, Murray (Class of 2013) was a member of Kansas City’s practice squad. That meant he and Murray could watch the Chiefs play the Broncos together.
Plans changed Tuesday after Murray, a 6-foot-5, 304-pound offensive lineman, was promoted to the 53-man roster. Now, Ford will be in the stands at Arrowhead Stadium to cheer on Murray, an undrafted free agent who will dress out for his first NFL game.
“Unfortunately, we won’t be able to do some of things we talked about doing, but that’s a small price to pay to see him wear that uniform on the sidelines,” Ford said. “It’s going to be surreal.”
Ford won’t be the only one close to Murray who will be in Kansas City this weekend. A total of 12 relatives and friends are expected to share in this once-in-a-lifetime occasion with Murray.
Representing his immediate family will be parents Barbara and Bob and older brother Bo (Class of 2012), one of five Murray brothers. Three uncles, including Loyola alumnus Jamie Baisley (Class of 1992), and cousin Gavin Green (Class of 2006), will be at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It’s special to have them all come down for the game,” Jimmy said. “Everyone has been awesome throughout this whole experience. It’s going to be crazy.”
Jimmy learned he was activated Tuesday morning after a meeting with general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid. Jimmy’s first call was to his father. Next, he reached out to his mother.
“He yelled into the phone,” Barbara said. “He couldn’t talk long, but he said thanks for everything.”
While Jimmy was lightly recruited out of Loyola and walked on at Holy Cross before earning a scholarship and becoming a captain as a senior, he never doubted himself, according to his dad.
“This validates all he’s done,” Bob said. “He’s worked so hard, and if you do that, good things will come. We’ve all been pulling on the same end of the rope. It’s very exciting to see him have this kind of success.”
Added Barbara, “He was never a kid who articulated his goals, but he was always committed to whatever he did. There’s nothing more satisfying as a parent than to see your children find their groove.”
Bo was the first to buy Jimmy’s official NFL jersey. He purchased it after Bears game and will be wearing No. 67 on Sunday.
“When he gave me the green light, I got it right away,” Bo said. “I’m looking forward to getting a lot of use out of it.”
Baisley, Jimmy’s godfather, knows what it takes to play sports at a high level.
A former linebacker at Loyola and member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame, he continued his career at University of Indiana, where he was a two-year starter and captain as a senior. After college, Baisley had stints with the Broncos, Jaguars and Seahawks.
“It’s so hard to get to where he is,” he said. “You’re talking about less than one half of one percent, maybe less than that. To do it from where he came from is even more impressive. He had no scholarship to a team from the Patriot League and went undrafted and made the active roster on an NFL team in his first year. That’s incredible.”
A captain with Jimmy at Holy Cross, Ford is as good of a witness as anybody to his ascent.
“What’s compelling about him is that he’s always improving,” Ford said. “He takes it upon himself to go above and beyond people’s expectations. He puts in the work, and he’s reaping the benefits.”
Ford said he’s enjoying Jimmy’s journey, too.
“Oh, man,” he said. “Ask the people I work with. I bring it up every day. They probably are tired of hearing about him. But it’s extremely gratifying for me to see him achieve this.”
The Chiefs issued Jimmy two complimentary tickets for Sunday’s game, and he gave them to his parents. Jimmy offered to buy tickets for the rest of his fan club as a thank you.
“It’s a one-time deal,” he joked. “Next game they come to, they are on their own.”
A bonus to the story is that the Chiefs are one of the best teams in the NFL. They are 6-1 and in first place in the AFC West at 2-0. They lead the league in scoring at 37.1 points a game and are second in total offense.
Jimmy’s parents and brother Bo all said they are as emotionally prepared as they can be for what awaits them Sunday. According to Barbara, Jimmy’s other brothers will watch the game on TV. Charlie (Class of 2015) and Patrick (Class of 2018) both are in New York, while Sean (Class of 2021) is at home in Wilmette.
“It probably will really hit me when I see him out there for warmups,” Bob said. “I know he’s ready for this, and everybody is super excited for him.”
Photo: 3XL Sports Management