2019 NFL Draft: Kyler Murray, Antonio Brown work out together in Texas


2019 NFL Draft: Kyler Murray, Antonio Brown work out together in Texas

Two of 2019's most-talked-about football players are working out under one roof. 

Yes, will-he-or-won't-he all-stars Antonio Brown and Kyler Murray put in some offseason work together this weekend. The embattled Pittsburgh Steelers receiver posted a video of him catching a pass from the Heisman Trophy winner (and Oakland A's prospect ... for now). 

The two worked out at Allen High School in Allen, Texas, which is Murray's alma mater. Not to be confused with Murray's college alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, but you'd be forgiven after seeing the indoor field where the pair worked out. 

Also in attendance -- at least based on Brown's tweet -- was cousin Marquise Brown. Marquise played with Murray at Oklahoma, and was his favorite target. The younger Brown caught 75 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, and is entering the 2019 NFL Draft alongside Murray.

Recent mock drafts have the junior receiver going in the mid- to late first round, and he offers plenty of intrigue himself for teams in need of a receiver. Two of those teams reside in the Bay Area, but the eyes of fans here surely are on the other guys in Allen.

A's fans probably are wondering why Murray isn't taking swings off a tee with spring training just over three weeks away, while 49ers fans (and Jon Gruden, reportedly) are salivating about that kind of speed running along the sideline. Of course, it's also possible neither Murray nor Brown will ply their trade in the Bay in 2019.

Marquise Brown wouldn't be a bad consolation prize, though.

Kyler Murray shuts door on ever joining A's, reiterates NFL commitment

Kyler Murray shuts door on ever joining A's, reiterates NFL commitment

When Kyler Murray announced he was choosing football over baseball, the A's did not shut the door on him eventually joining the organization.

The former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback did that himself on Saturday.

"I mean, they can hold out all the hope they want to," Murray told reporters in Norman, Okla. "I'm going to play football."

The A's drafted Murray with the No. 9 overall pick in last year's MLB draft, and allowed him to return to school for his junior season. As the Sooners' starter, Murray led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff and won the Heisman Trophy. 

Although he ruled out ever joining the club, Murray said he was grateful the A's allowed him to go back to Oklahoma in the fall. More importantly, he said they gave him space to breathe. 

"That organization, being with the A's, was the best possible situation for me just because they were so great throughout the football season," Murray said, "kind of leaving me alone and letting me do my own thing, and at the same time letting me know how much I meant to them and that type of stuff. Telling them was tough."

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Murray will participate in next week's NFL Scouting Combine, as he tries to solidify his status as a first-round pick. If Murray is drafted in the first round in April, he will become the first player to be a first-round pick in the MLB and NFL. 

Ultimately, the A's will become just a small part of that history. 

A's equipment manager Steve Vucinich details opening series prep in Tokyo


A's equipment manager Steve Vucinich details opening series prep in Tokyo

MESA, Ariz. -- Packing for travel can be a daunting task.

Imagine doing that for an entire baseball team, and then having to do that overseas.

Longtime A's equipment manager Steve Vucinich has turned what most would shy away from into something he could probably do in his sleep.

And with the team opening up the season in Tokyo against the Seattle Mariners next month, in order for the garb, bats, helmets, jock straps, and everything else they may need, it's a bit more detailed of a process. But, it's nothing he can't handle.

For starters, Vucinich checks things once, then nine more times after that. 

"You can't overnight something [in Japan]," Vucinich told NBC Sports Bay Area. "If we were in Baltimore, for instance, we could probably get something in two to three days."

But beyond that, Vucinich said it's not as complicated as it may sound, or how I initially thought it would be.

"Since we're leaving spring training and we're not coming back here, they don't have to pack as much stuff as they do for a regular road trip," he said. "No. 1, we're in a controlled environment with the dome, so we don't need all this extra layered stuff."

That makes things easier -- kind of.

"Opening Day in Japan makes things, I don't want to say 'complex,' but you just have to watch everything and as we're leaving, I'm going to have one of my guys check off every bag."

"First, we're going to do security here and the dogs will sniff everything -- after that, it'll be put on to the truck."

Will he have to pack a few extra things? Of course. 

"Maybe a few extra helmets ... a guy like Chapman, somehow his helmet breaks more than anyone else's," he smiled.

An A's staff member told me on Friday Vucinich has been around since day one. And since then, equipment needs have changed. Maybe not the jockstraps so much, but the style of clothing and the number of bats they take along with them certainly have.

"When I first started, you would have two bags of bats -- maybe four dozen," he explained. "Nowadays, every position player has his own bat bag that can hold up to a dozen bats."

That doesn't mean they do, necessarily, but it's nice to know they have that option.

"Since birch and maple wood has been approved, those don't break as much." 

Vucinich said the A's travel with fewer bats than they did ten years ago, but "definitely more than we did 30 years ago."

Progress. I like it. 

And when Vucinich arrives in Japan, he's the first to set foot. That's when the fun stuff begins.

"We'll be the first off the plane and we'll go through the immigration customs procedure and they'll take us downstairs and we'll wait for customs to clear all of the equipment."

He's not completely solo on this mission though -- not that he couldn't handle it on his own. MLB provides him with the funds to have an extra pair of hands to join him as they follow the equipment truck in a car to the Tokyo Dome.

"They will have a staff there to unpack and hopefully have a good interpreter," Vucinich said.

Despite it being a bit more laid-back in the states, there are still the same TSA requirements, and I doubt TSA PreCheck can be implemented in this scenario.

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Talking to him for a just a few minutes, you can tell Vucinich been doing this for a while, it's quite extraordinary. 

"There are more details that go into it in Tokyo," he said.

Details he has down to a science.