One Oklahoma Sooner Heisman Winner Says No to the Detroit Lions

Charles HuttonContributor IJanuary 15, 2009

Sam Bradford's NFL career has been put on hold, as the 2008 Heisman Trophy Award Winner will return to Norman, Oklahoma.  Bradford's decision to make another run at the National Championship game brings a feeling of Déjà vu to all Oklahoma (OU) Sooner fans, as Jason White also returned for another season after winning the Heisman and losing the National Championship game in 2003. 

However, if Sam Bradford would have declared for the upcoming NFL draft, Sooner fans could have still experienced a sense of Déjà vu with the Detroit Lions!

Baby Boomer Sooner fans, no pun intended, may recall how the Detroit Lions drafted two former OU Heisman Winners.  Running back Steve Owens was drafted in the first round, No. 19 overall in 1970.  Likewise, running back Billy Sims was a first round pick, No. 1 overall, in the 1980 draft.

Owens’ NFL career was plagued with chronic knee injuries, limiting him to 2,451 yards on 635 carries and scoring 20 touchdowns over five seasons.  Sims also played five years for the Lions from 1980 to 1984 and amassed 5,106 yards on 1,131 carries, scoring 42 touchdowns.  Unfortunately, Sims suffered a knee injury in 1984 and thereafter retired from the NFL. 

So does this mean Bradford would have had a five-year career with the Lions with potential knee injuries?  The answer is most likely yes!

Consider the average NFL career is 3.5 years, and knee injuries are prominent.  Also, the Detroit Lions' offensive line provided their quarterbacks virtually no protection last season by allowing a staggering 52 sacks!  Lastly, the Detroit Lions are the Detroit Lions as they always draft the Heisman winner!

However, Bradford can somewhat control the duration of his NFL career if he learns to operate the OU offense under center, improve his straight line ball speed, and learn to throw out of the pocket.  Should Bradford improve his skills, he will likely be the number one overall draft pick next year.