If you’ve read any of my articles before, you will know I’m not a fan of having “dead money” against the cap. I believe it could certainly be spent for upgrades on talent, or, at the least, be kept in reserve for the next free agency period. But, to that end, if you’ve also read my articles before, you know the one thing I absolutely abhor is a quitter. Call it my years of training in the US Air Force, or call it my refusal to give up after my accident that left me with a TBI, but I simply do not accept quitting. I still want Jason Peters cut for quitting on the team in the game against the Redskins late last season, but that’s another article for another time.
Soon after news had broke that the Eagles had acquired the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford made a statement saying he would not show for mini-camp or any organized team activities (OTA’s) because of the team’s new position in the draft. It is widely believed that the Eagles are going to select a quarterback with the number two overall pick, and now, Bradford wants out.
I’ve gone on the record in this forum, saying Bradford was not the man to lead this team. His talent that won him a Heisman trophy at Oklahoma has simply not transferred to the NFL, in my opinion. Sure, the torn ACL’s could be part of it. But, when my team is down by five or six points, late in the fourth quarter, Bradford doesn’t even crack my Top Ten of quarterbacks I want leading that drive. He doesn’t inspire those around him. He doesn’t have the “it” factor that is so very difficult to quantify in quarterbacks. And, sure, there will be those out there, reading this that will say that it’s easy for me to write this about Bradford, because I’ve never faced pressure before. I assure you, being in a bunker in Desert Shield/Desert Storm was pressure, so that takes away that argument.
Bradford’s agent, Tom Condon, in an article on NFL.com, said that “Sam is a competitor”. In this case, all evidence contradicts that statement. If Bradford was truly a competitor, then he’d show up to camp, and let his play do all the talking for him. He wouldn’t become like a petulant child, and threaten to go home, if he doesn’t get his way. To introduce that attitude to a new coach, and to this team’s locker room would create a very caustic environment.
Condon went on to say that “Bradford was remarkable in the final three weeks of the season”. OK, so where was that for the other thirteen weeks? And, let’s look at those final three games: Loss to Arizona, loss to Washington, win against the Giants, after Chip Kelly had been dismissed. A lot of those numbers versus Arizona came after the Cardinals knew they had that game well in hand. That statement by Condon is kind of like Tom Selleck’s line in the movie Mr. Baseball, where he says “I led this club in 8th inning doubles in the month of August”. It sounds good, but, there’s no meaning behind it.
Condon’s talk is surely that of an agent trying to do two things: Hype the market for a team to call Philadelphia with an offer, or, entice the Eagles to go a different route Thursday night, and not take a quarterback. It’s the agent protecting his client. On the other hand, I don’t see how GM Howie Roseman making Bradford report to the team, and having him as the starter, in light of recent events, can be beneficial to the team in 2016. If there’s another team out there, say, the Jets or the Broncos, who want to offer picks 2017, or even 2017, I’d make the deal. After what the team gave up to Cleveland to move up to number two, re-stocking draft picks would be my highest priority.
I had a commanding officer once that said “Pressure, at some time or another, defines us all”. Some will respond to it. Some will fold. In some cases, pressure creates a diamond. In others, it can create an absolute mess. I firmly believe that, in this case, Bradford has shown his true colors. He’s no competitor. He’s no true leader. If he can’t have things his way, then he just wants to go home. Look at the great quarterbacks in history. Did Brett Favre take it personal when the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers? Yes, and he went out and competed. When Kurt Warner was forced to leave New York, and basically hold a clipboard for Matt Leinart, did he take it? No. He competed. Leinart showed he couldn’t handle the pressure. Warner just went out and competed. And, as a result, he took his team to a Super Bowl. Bradford doesn’t have it in him to compete. He’s too used to being handed everything. It happened that way for him at Oklahoma. It happened that way for him in St. Louis, when he was handed a ton of money before he ever played a down. Bradford is not a competitor. If the prospect of a guy from a Division 1-AA school frightens him, then, what will real NFL defenses truly do to his psyche?
Bradford needs to go, and it needs to happen sooner, rather than later. Hopefully, we will hear those words on Thursday night. If not, then, the circus will truly come to town, and Bradford will be the ringmaster.