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Kliff Kingsbury: 'You Just Try To Stay Focused' Amid Distractions

Cardinals coach says he has good relationship with Wilson, Harris with Keim out

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury during the team's game against the Patriots on Monday night.
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury during the team's game against the Patriots on Monday night.

Kliff Kingsbury was in his press conference Friday when a question was framed about his life as a head coach.

"Ten years," Kingsbury said, briefly interrupting the query. "Feels like 100."

The Cardinals coach has said before – and reiterated Friday – he prefers to coach on the NFL level over college. But he acknowledged that while the issues of college teams are often about missing classes or skipped weight room sessions, "every issue here, it's usually a real-life issue.

"It feels a little bit heavier, but it's also kind of out of your control."

And make a 10-year coaching career seem much longer.

In just the past few days, the Cardinals have absorbed Kyler Murray's ACL tear, GM Steve Keim's leave of absence and now an arbitration request by former offensive line coach Sean Kugler after his dismissal on the Mexico City trip, arguing Kugler was wrongfully terminated. And outside of work, there was the death of Kingsbury's college coach Mike Leach.

"You just try to stay focused on what you can control, and that's the work and the players and that's it," Kingsbury said. "You have to compartmentalize when you show up and be professional and continue to try and win games."

Kingsbury said he was disappointed for Keim – "I have a great appreciation for Steve and always will" – and said he has a similar relationship with the two men fulfilling Keim's duties at the moment: vice president of player personnel Quentin Harris and vice president of pro personnel Adrian Wilson.

"We all want to do the best for this organization," Kingsbury said.

Kugler has publicized a request for NFL arbitration about his incident, saying it was untrue he had inappropriately touched a female security guard and wants to clear his name.

The Cardinals released a statement about Kugler's request: "As an ongoing legal matter, we are going to refrain from comment other than to say the team is confident the process will result in a much different set of facts than those presented today and that it had good cause to terminate Mr. Kugler's employment."

Kingsbury deferred to the team statement on that situation.

The coach said he doesn't take such issues home with him, although as emphasized on Hard Knocks this week, if Kingsbury is leaving his house at 3:15 a.m. and staying at the Dignity Health Training Center late, he's at work most of the time.

"When I'm at home I just try to detach and focus on me, and when I'm here, make sure everyone is in the good space," he said.

There are still four football games left to be played, starting in Denver Sunday. The Broncos will be without quarterback Russell Wilson, who was ruled out after suffering a concussion last week.

And Kingsbury still has frustrations about how Monday night's loss to the Patriots played out. "We had two illegal shifts on huge gains, I mean, that's basic football 101. That can't happen," he said.

There are things out of his control. It's the things in his control Kingsbury is trying to make right.

"The only way I know to get it turned the other way is to work harder and stay focused and stick together," Kingsbury said.

Images of the Cardinals practicing at the Dignity Health Sports Complex before the Week 15 regular season matchup against the Denver Broncos