Oklahoma's Sam Bradford Shows Us Why High Picks Should Take the Money

Daniel MuthSenior Analyst IOctober 18, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners stands on the sidelines after suffering an injury against the Brigham Young Cougars at Cowboys Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I will say that I have a lot of respect for guys like Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford and Florida's TimTebow for caring about collegiate competition, their teammates, and their respective school communities enough to stay in school and chase national titles.

It shows that money is not the only thing that motivates them, and it shows a competitive spirit that is truly admirable.

Unfortunately, it also shows the naivete of youth and the belief of immortality so particularly prevalent in young athletic men.

I say this from experience, having once been one myself, and though I was never in the situation that Sam Bradford was in last year, I can honestly say at that point in my life, I would have seriously considered doing the same thing.

The money will come, I would have thought.

These guys need me here, I would have thought.

I owe it to the loyal fans who pin so much of their hope on this team.

These sentiments are rooted in a type of honor, but the problem is that we come to find out later in life that most of these people wouldn't have done the same thing for us. 

We find out that the love of the fan is strictly conditional , encapsulated within the bounds of a win-loss percentage and a national title shot.  We find out that these people who elevate us, will just as surely tear us down and forget about us should our lives take an unfortunate turn.

We find out that honor is not ubiquitous in this world, and we become fastidiously selective about who we bestow it upon.

When Tim Tebow lay motionless on the turf after a monster hit that sent his head ricocheting off the knee of a teammate, my initial reaction was to hope he was alright.

The reaction of the media was to posit what this might do to the Gators national title hopes.

The reaction of the Florida fan was to fervently argue (on these boards and elsewhere) that Tebow should play in the LSU game come hell or high water.

Some said that the only people that were truly concerned about Tebow's health were his immediate family and the rest of us were just out to deny UF another title shot.

Well, Tim played, and fortunately seems to be alright, though we really can't know because the effects of serious head injuries often take years to develop.

What the incident did show however, is that many of the people Tebow felt compelled to suit up for simply weren't worth it. 

Sure they'll love you forever if you don't cross them, but if you sit out a game with a legitimate health concern and cost them a title shot, you best be prepared to handle the fallout.

And the situation now with Sam Bradford has the makings of a Greek tragedy.

Bradford, the defending Heisman trophy winner who turned down the chance at being the number one overall pick, so he could come back and lead the Sooners to glory, is now in a state of limbo.

He turned down $41 million guaranteed dollars from the Detroit Lions, as most analysts thought him more NFL ready than eventual pick Matthew Stafford, and lifelong security for his family and other close loved ones.

Security for the people who really care about him vs. a title for the folks that only care about the jersey on his back.

Unfortunately, fate often throws a cruel wrench into the gears of the honorable.

Early in the season vs. BYU, Bradford was sacked hard and seriously sprained his shoulder.

His throwing shoulder .

He was out for three games and was sorely missed by his club.

He returned in sharp form vs. Baylor, but was once again slammed to the turf on his injured shoulder during the game yesterday against No. 2 Texas and was forced off the field.

And though it's still early and we're not sure about the extent of this injury, you can be sure that NFL scouts are taking full stock of the situation in Norman.

Questions about Bradford's durability are arising, questions about the health of his throwing shoulder, questions concerning whether he'll ever be the same if he has to go under the knife.

And though there are truly some fans that feel badly for Bradford and will remember all the great things he did for the University of Oklahoma, there are many more who will remember what could have been, or simply not remember at all ten years down the line.

Ten years down the line, of course, Bradford will still be around.

And it may be that he rebounds well and has a solid NFL career, or it may be that he does great things outside of football and uses his experience to help others, and it may be that he one day looks back and sees the trials of this season as something he had to go through to achieve what he did in life.

But there's also a lot of truth in the simply overstated phrase that's been handed down through time.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

And when you're talking about 41 million birds, I think the statement is even more apt.

Bad things happen in this world and doors of opportunity often only open once.

So as an older wiser and perhaps more cynical man, I think it's clear that a high draft pick has to take the money.

It may sound crass, but them's the times we live in.


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