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Murrell selected as Jets’ most valuable player

December 19, 1996

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) _ Adrian Murrell has had enough of this mixed emotions stuff.

``What I hear is, `You guys are having a bad season, but you’re playing so well.′ I don’t like to hear that,″ Murrell said Wednesday after being selected the New York Jets’ most valuable player this season. ``It’s a team game; it would be a lot more satisfying if praise was coming and we’re winning. Then there are not a lot of ands and buts attached to what you are doing.″

What the fourth-year running back has done is rush for 1,180 yards and five touchdowns. His work has come in the most dire of sports circumstances _ his team is 1-14, the worst record in the NFL for the second straight year.

``He has learned from his experience and he is better than last year,″ coach Rich Kotite said. ``He kept his focus, he’s tough, he’s a better blocker. I think he’s gained the respect of his opponents in the NFL, and I think a lot of the defensive focus has been on No. 29, and he has still had a good year.

``I think it is tougher in the position he has been in. For the most part, this kid has gotten better and better.″

Murrell, a fifth-round pick in 1993 out of West Virginia, could become the first player since Chicago’s Gale Sayers in 1969 to rush for more than 1,000 yards with a one-win team. The only other runner to do it was Dick Bass of the Rams in 1962.

``Is that an honor, to be recognized (with Sayers and Bass)?″ he said. ``That’s a bad thing to be associated with. I’m fighting like hell to get a win.

``I think it could have been more if we had done things that would enable us to run out the clock a bit. I am happy with what I got.

``I had a number in mind and I am very close to the number. I feel the number should have been a little higher, I think we could have done a lot more if we had won more games.″

Murrell has rushed for more than 100 yards five times, including a 78-yard spring that helped clinch the Jets’ only win, at Arizona. He’s averaging 4.2 yards a carry.

And he’s earned respect around the league as a solid back, not just a situational player.

``My colleagues are seeing I could tote the ball, that I’m not just a guy who can come in on third downs and sustain a drive,″ Murrell said. ``This year, it’s a different vibe for me. That is what you strive for, respect, and one of the things you want to keep building on.

``Murrell would love another chance to run in offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt’s system. But Erhardt _ and the rest of the staff _ is in serious jeopardy of losing his job.

``I think 1,400 yards is a good number for this offense,″ Murrell said. ``But I don’t like to put numbers on that; I like to see how it ends up. I’ve seen Barry Foster run for 1,600 yards in this offense. He could do it there and we could do it here.

``He (Erhardt) has had so many guys who ran for 1,000 yards. Obviously, I’m happy I’m one of those guys.″

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