Former Georgia Bulldog Aaron Murray beamed with excitement Thursday during his introduction as a quarterback for the Atlanta Legends.

The Alliance of American Football (AAF) held a “Protect or Pick” Draft Tuesday. With the No. 2 overall pick, the Atlanta Legends protected Murray, meaning he was protected after already being claimed by the Legends based on geographic proximity.

“I’ve been throwing with some of the receivers these past few months,” Murray said. “We’ll really get cranking in beginning of January, but it’s going to be an exciting time to get out there, play football.”

Murray was fighting for a spot on an NFL roster earlier this year when he met Brad Childress, who is the Legends’ coach.

“I was in minicamp with the Chicago Bears, and he was helping out with Matt Nagy ... just helping install the offense and getting things going for the players,” Murray explained. “He told me, ‘Hey, you know there’s this new league starting up. I’m going to be the head coach in Atlanta. I know you live in Atlanta, why don’t you give it a chance?’ I was like, ‘Heck yeah! This looks like it’s awesome.’”

Murray now lives in Atlanta and is no stranger to the state, as he played quarterback at UGA from 2010-13. Murray finished his collegiate career as Georgia’s leader in touchdown passes and most passing yards in a season and career. After almost a year and a half off the field, Murray was excited to be presented with an opportunity to play close to home.

“I am excited, and the first year for this league, kind of get in there when it’s starting,” Murray said. “I think that’s one of the most exciting things about it and getting to work with some great coaches.”

Getting to stay in Atlanta was important to Murray, as his brother Josh, his sister Stephanie and his fianceé Sharon reside in Atlanta. His mom and dad, who live in Murray’s hometown of Tampa, Fla., can travel more easily to Murray’s games in Atlanta, which means a lot to the former Bulldog.

Although he’s excited his family can easily attend games, Murray admitted that his fianceé is a bit nervous for him to play again.

“She’s never seen me play football before,” Murray said. “I’ve shown her some clips to start preparing her from some of the games, like my freshman year versus Auburn. Nick Fairley was knocking my head off play after play after play. And she’s like, “Oh no, I don’t know if I want to watch this.” So she’s a little nervous, but she’s excited and happy for me.”

Another factor was his recent broadcasting career. Murray joined CBS Sports Network in 2017, starting a career in the booth and commentating during football season. With the AAF, the broadcaster will be able to continue his career in the booth while continuing to play.

“I get to stay in Atlanta, the stadium is 10 minutes from my house, it doesn’t affect my TV career,” Murray said. “Because it’s in the spring, so I can jump back into football and commentating college football once again in the fall which is sweet — so let’s do it. Why not?”

Beyond the ability to see his family and continue in the booth, Murray is passionate about a football league that gives players a shot at a professional career. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014, but never played in a game. Murray was cut in 2016 and later signed several free-agent contracts, with no break. With a rough start in the NFL, Murray views the AAF as a genuine opportunity to further a professional career with elite players and coaches.

“That’s the goal with this league,” Murray said. “Listen, the NFL is tough to make it. There’s a lot of really good football players out there, and sometimes you’re the two-guy, three-guy, you’re the practice-squad guy and you’re not just getting a lot of reps. You’re not getting film for other teams to look at or coaches to look at, which is great for this league because you get in there and you get to play.”

Aaron Murray and the Legends begin the AAF inaugural season Feb. 9 on the road against the Orlando Apollos. The first home game, scheduled at Georgia State Stadium, is Feb. 24 against the Birmingham Iron.

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