The Cardinals take a backseat to their St. Louis brothers tonight. The Rams have the city’s eyes upon them as the franchise lays the foundation for a new era. The Cards can settle in and watch the Draft on their off day before beginning a three-game set in San Francisco Friday. They get Tim Lincecum in the opener who is 3-0 with a .90 ERA. The Freak is on his game again and St. Louis will be challenged to score runs in the vast canyon of AT&T Park. Jaime Garcia will try to outdo baseball’s best. But that’s tomorrow.
Tonight, the buzz is surrounding another arm. He doesn’t throw fastballs or changeups like Lincecum and Garcia, though. He throws crosses and fades on the gridiron. He’s Sam Bradford.
The Rams have the No. 1 in tonight’s NFL Draft. The city holds its collective breath while waiting for the decision. Many believe Sam Bradford will walk across the stage first and become the future of St. Louis football. He has handled himself perfectly throughout the process. After a disappointing end to a brilliant career at Oklahoma, he worked hard to get ready for this night. He wasn’t bitter about the injuries. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. Instead, Bradford showed the league why he won a Heisman Trophy and led the nation’s top-ranked offense in 2008. Some thought he was done after the hits he took early in the year. His arm was shot. He would never recover. But he has and now, he is the best quarterback in the draft.
The Rams need a quarterback and they like Bradford. He’s smart and works hard. He is a good leader. Plus, he was fun to watch in college. His Sooners piled up yards and points like the “Greatest Show on Turf” led by Kurt Warner. That team brought home a Super Bowl championship. Bradford hopes to do the same.
Before he can fulfill that dream, he must make another into reality. The dream was made possible by his perseverance and pride. These qualities were instilled in him at a young age and haven’t left him.
The list, supposedly, is how this whole thing started, and it was written long before draft boards shuffled, hopes soared and a surgically repaired right shoulder became a $50 million dream. Kent Bradford returns a call on a Sunday afternoon, and politely tries to change the subject. It’s Sam’s time now, Kent says, and besides, that list is sort of private, something between and a father and a son whose life is nowhere near private these days.
Talk to Sam, he says. See whether he’ll mention the list. Chances are, he won’t. Sam Bradfordmight be a dozen things in the eyes of an NFL scout, he might be hours from becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft, but most of all, he’s his father’s son. The first 18 years of his life, it was just the three of them, his daddy the old Oklahoma lineman, his mom the schoolteacher, and Sam, fill-in-the-blank. He was a scratch golfer. A budding cellist. Anything he wanted to be.
“He had all of our time,” Kent says. “I mean, he was our only child, you know? Heck, he was a captive audience, I guess.”
So really, is the list that important? Here’s what Bradford will say about it: That he’s where he is today because his parents did everything to ensure their boy was well-rounded. They drove across state lines just so Sam could play hockey. Who plays hockey in Oklahoma? And when Kent spoke, he listened. They’d talk every night before the lights went out and Sam went to bed, and one night he gave the kid a checklist. It might have been typewritten, might have been scribbled out by hand … that part is fuzzy.
Try my best at everything I do.
Bradford got the list when he was 5, maybe 6. He recited it to his dad every night for the next six years.
I’d say he’s lived up to the promise so far. Even when things got tough, he fought through it. If Sam joins the Rams and becomes the newest son of St. Louis, they will be getting a class act who will always give everything he has.
Tune in at 7:30 to see what happens!