By Brian Whitehead
Daily Titan Sports Columnist
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford needs a hug. Like, a big bear hug. Iâ€™m talking an emotional â€œFriendsâ€ series finale kind of hug.
Seriously, after this forgettable season, the man is going to need some love. I mean, Tom Powers and Tony Montana didnâ€™t experience such grueling, depressing downfalls. And they both died.
This past summer Bradford chose to return to Oklahoma for his junior year, opting to forgo the 2009 NFL draft. As the projected number one pick, you certainly canâ€™t blame the reigning Heisman trophy winner for putting off the NFL. Remember, the 0-16 Detroit Lions had the number one pick.
Yes, you probably wouldâ€™ve stayed in college another year too.
Like every other highly-regarded pro prospect that turned down the NFL for another year of college, Bradford risked potential injury in hopes of lifting the Glass Football come January. It wasnâ€™t the first time a decorated college quarterback spurned professional football to return to school for one more year. Chris Weinke, Matt Leinart, Jason White and Tim Tebow did it, as well as many others.
What Bradford did, though baffling, wasnâ€™t necessarily uncommon. All he needed to do was not get injured. Well, he did. In about 0.43 seconds on Sept. 5.
The opening week of the college football season saw No. 20 BYU challenge No. 3 Oklahoma in a matchup of two championship caliber teams. The Sooners, fresh off a disappointing 24-14 loss to Florida in the BCS National Championship game, pounced on the Cougars early, courtesy of a well-oiled offense led by their All-American quarterback.
Bradford (10-14, 96 yards, 1 TD) and the Sooners had clearly found their mid-season form. Then, the unpredictable happened. An unaccounted-for BYU linebacker armed with bad intentions got a free release through the Oklahoma offensive line.
Remember in â€œMajor Leagueâ€ when Jake Taylor called his shot (with two outs and Willie Mays Hays on second) in the bottom of the 9th against the Yankees, then laid down the perfect bunt just as everything shifted to slow motion? Remember the suspense? The tension? Well, when that opportunistic BYU linebacker tombstoned Bradfordâ€™s right shoulder into the earth I can only imagine thatâ€™s how every Oklahoma Sooners fan felt. Like everything was moving in slow motion. Painstakingly slow motion.
Ultimately, Jake Taylor ran out the bunt and Sam Bradford walked off under his own power, but neither has been the same since.
Since Bradford went down in week one, the Sooners season has been anything but consistent. They fell from No. 3 to No. 13 after losing to BYU, then crept back up to No. 8 after two consecutive wins, then fell from No. 8 to No. 21 after losing to Miami (FL).
Their most recent loss, against No. 3 Texas on October 16, was the proverbial nail in their ’09 seasonâ€™s coffin. If Oklahomaâ€™s national championship hopes disintegrated after their 14-13 loss to BYU, then their losses to Miami and Texas blew them into oblivion.
In hindsight, Bradfordâ€™s triumphant return has been anything but. As a matter of fact, Iâ€™d venture to say John Rockerâ€™s return to New York would generate a better outcome than Bradfordâ€™s return to Oklahoma. How could this of happened?
I have a theory.
I believe Bradfordâ€™s fate was predestined the night he hoisted the Heisman trophy, because you know who was in the room that December, not lifting a Heisman?
Timothy Richard Tebow.
Just to be crystal clear, Tim Tebow and The Big Man Upstairs are close. Like Peter Klaven-Sydney Fife close. Theyâ€™re pals. Homies. Facebook friends. Compadres. Theyâ€™ve had each otherâ€™s back since the get-go. Tebow spreads the good word and does all the charitable stuff here on earth, and The Big Man handles everything on the gridiron come Saturday.
After two national championships (2006, 2008) and one Heisman (2007), itâ€™s safe to say the Tebow/Big Man tag team has been the football equivalent of the Rock â€˜nâ€™ Sock Connection. Simply unstoppable. Well, until a little-known sophomore by the name of Sam Bradford came along.
The 2008 college football season saw a plethora of quarterbacks put up Drew Brees numbers with dreams of claiming the Heisman trophy (Tebow, Bradford, Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, Mark Sanchez.) The most prolific of the bunch, Bradford went into New York as the prohibitive favorite to win the coveted trophy.
And he did.
With almost 4,500 yards and 48 TDs (both school records) itâ€™s hard to argue the Sooner QB with the rocket arm wasnâ€™t deserving of the hardware.
That is, if youâ€™re not He.
Since winning the Heisman, Bradford has lost the BCS Championship game (to Tebow) and injured his moneymaker (not once, but twice.) Coincidence? I think not.
Yes, I said it. God has a Sam Bradford voodoo doll in his back pocket and has been puncturing that damn doll with jackhammers since last December.
In all seriousness, Sam Bradford needs a hug. Like, a big bear hug. For his sake, Iâ€™ll be standing right here. Arms wide open. You canâ€™t put a price tag on that, can you?