What a somber ending to a short but sweet career for the Oklahoma Sooners Sam Bradford who officially announced that he will have season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder and will prepare to enter the 2010 NFL Draft. It may not have ended the way anyone at Oklahoma would’ve liked, but there’s a long string of sweet memories to look back upon and hopefully a great NFL career for Bradford to look forward to.
Bradford Has No Regrets About Returning
When you’re the Heisman Trophy winner playing for the hometown university you grew up with, and you come within one game of winning the national title for them, you aren’t exactly looking forward to change. I mean, the college experience is priceless, and once it’s over, that’s it – you’ll never have that again. And having a chance to return and try to win a national title for your school – how could he say no?? Some guys do, but I’d like to think I would’ve returned also. In his final press conference announcing the season-ending surgery, Bradford had this to say:
“Like I said earlier, it’s extremely tough considering this is where I grew up and this is where I played. To put this in the past is extremely tough and I’ve been extremely blessed to be here. The past three-and-a-half years have been the best three-and-a-half years of my life. I wouldn’t trade a day of it…absolutely 100 percent, no regrets.” – Sam Bradford
Extremely Blessed For His Sooners Career
Bradford has made a ton of memories for himself and his Oklahoma faithful, but there will always be just a bit of a sting for having come so close to the national championship just to miss it by a hair.
“Obviously we’re a little disappointed that we didn’t win the national championship last year and that’s something that’s always going to bug me and bug everyone who was a part of that team. If you look back over some of the things we’ve done over the last couple of years, I think we’ve been extremely blessed.” – Sam Bradford
And as a fan, you’d have to be crazy if you’re complaining. Bradford and the Sooners have had an awesome run together, especially with wins over the Texas Longhorns, a Heisman Trophy, and a spot in the national championship game. I know the heartache of having your team lose big games – I’m from Buffalo, NY and our Bills lost four straight Superbowls. I also know the heartache of losing a key player which winds up ruining your season – this year our University of Buffalo Bulls, the reigning MAC Champions, lost their star senior running back James Starks to a season-ending shoulder injury during fall workouts – before even a single game was played. The Bulls are now 3-5 on the year with no shot of winning much of anything. Starks was a projected first or second round pick in the 2010 NFL draft even before the 2009 NCAA season began.
I’m disappointed for Starks and the UB Bulls, but I certainly have no complaints. The Bills – well, I didn’t say I have no complaints about them! But that’s a different story entirely.
Bradford’s Chances In The NFL
It’s well-documented that Oklahoma Sooners quarterbacks have not done well in the NFL. Can Bradford be any better? Nobody knows. Bradford has had one of the best teams, and best offensive lines in college football during his career, and that leaves people wondering if he’ll be able to handle an NFL defensive end in his face, or an NFL cornerback running a 4.25 forty coming untouched on an outside blitz. Former 21-year N.F.L. scout Dave Razzano had this to say:
“I need to see him in games where he was pressured. Quarterbacks who struggled in transition to the N.F.L. rarely faced defensive pressure in college. Everybody can sit back and make throws with time. Now, the question is, can he without time?” – former NFL scout Dave Razzano
Sam Bradford celebrates after the Oklahoma Sooners defeated the Missouri Tigers to win the Big 12 Championship game on December 6, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. What a stellar career.
Looking Forward To Bigger, But Not Better Things
It’s no mystery that I’m a huge college football fan. I wouldn’t hesitate for one second if asked which football league had to disappear – the NFL or the NCAA? Goodbye NFL! There is nothing on Earth like college football! It seems Sam Bradford agrees:
“Anytime you enter into professional anything I think you do lose something…But to make this decision and realize I’ve played my last game at Oklahoma, it’s really tough. Some people think money is everything, but to me, money is not everything. You look at these guys and the friendships and the experiences I’ve had here — not many people can say that. I wouldn’t trade any of it for money.” – Sam Bradford
And I believe him entirely. It’s sad to see him leave college football, and it’s a shame he didn’t have a more glorious ending. But you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who feels Bradford left anything on the table. He’s been a stellar leader and a great teammate by all accounts, and the 2010 NFL quarterback class is going to be a great one to watch with the likes of Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, and Colt McCoy all coming out.
There are never any guarantees in life, and Bradford knew the risks of returning to the NCAA ranks for one more year were high. But his teammates, his friends, the memories, and Oklahoma University meant more to him than money – so he rolled the dice and took his chances. To anyone who might say he made the wrong choice, I simply say this; stick to NFL football and enjoy your time at the water cooler talking about the latest NFL contracts and the divas who are crying that $10 million a year to play a game isn’t showing them enough respect. In the meantime you can find me napping on Sunday afternoons while I try to recover from watching the traditions, the shootouts, the emotions, the glory and the heartache that comes from watching these college kids play for pride, passion, and school on Saturday afternoons.
Here’s to Sam Bradford and all he’s done for Oklahoma University and college football – may there be many, many great years of life and football ahead.