Examining Sam Bradford and his curious addiction to Privilege…..
It must be nice to be Sam Bradford. In fact, if I die, bring me back to life as his reincarnation, sans the baggy sleeves and overinflated sense of self-worth.
Pardon me for a moment if I sound like the voiceover guy on those 30-for-30 ads when I pose this question:
What if I told you you could win a Heisman you didn’t deserve, get drafted #1 overall despite missing your last season of college football because of your knack for injury, sign the largest rookie contract in NFL history (a contract so ridiculous a rookie wage scale was installed in an upcoming CBA), miss 33 of a possible 96 games at the premier position in the sport (you hate this 30-for-30 already, don’t you?), make $78 million dollars while throwing 78 TDs (none in the playoffs–because he’s never taken a team there), and despite all of that, somehow have the unmitigated gall to request a trade when the team who just gave you $22 million guaranteed that you didn’t deserve decides to draft a QB, would you believe it? ESPN presents, “Drunk from Privilege – The Sam Bradford Story”.
It would almost be comical if any of the above was hyperbole, but it is all factual. And sad. And the epitome of privilege.
I didn’t think I could have someone supplant Johnny Manziel on my mantle of spoiled, entitled rich kid, but ol’ baggy sleeved Sam Bradford continues to do the unthinkable. Like continue to get huge contracts without actually doing anything to earn them. From the day his name was called by Roger Goodell, Sam Bradford continued to enjoy the fruit of privilege. From the record breaking contract (that future rookies like Cam Newton and Andrew Luck did not get to enjoy), to having the luxury of a starting job waiting for him each time after returning from injury— all while being the statistical equivalent to Josh Freeman (as pointed out by Colin Cowherd on “The Herd” last week), a player who is out of the league currently. Think about that for a moment. Josh Freeman, who was taken a year earlier and has had a similar career statistically (81 TDs, 68 INTs 38 fumbles, 57.6% comp., 77.6 QB rating, 25-36 W-L) to Sam Bradford (78 TDs, 52 INTs, 24 fumbles, 60.1% comp., 81.0 QB rating, 25-37-1 W-L) minus the 30+ games lost to injury and similar non-existent playoff resumé, is probably trying out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders just to get an opportunity to prove he can be just as mediocre as Sam Bradford. What a life!
CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams is carted off the field after he is injured after being knocked out of bounds by Mike Mitchell #21 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 20, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Here is when you begin to realize just how fortunate this dude is: being traded to Philadelphia despite coming off ANOTHER torn ACL. He fell into the lap of Chip Kelly, another privileged lunatic, but had the trump card of turning Nick Foles into a statistical anomaly for one season (27 TDs/2 INTs) in 2013. After Foles came back to Earth in 2014, Chip shipped him to St. Louis for the Privileged One. What followed was a pedestrian Bradford campaign (3,725 yards, 19 TDs/14 INTs ) ultimately ending in another trademark Bradford absence from the postseason. Here’s where things get interesting. Chip Kelly gets fired with one game left in the season, throwing Bradford’s future with the Eagles in limbo — until the tree of favor and privilege dropped him an apple in the form of a 2 year/$35 Million extension ($22M guaranteed). Also notable, this extension came after the Eagles named Doug Pederson the new head coach, who had every right to choose the quarterback who will ultimately hold his fate. So with $22 Million in his back pocket for doing nothing, Sam and his XXL shoulder pads took umbrage with the notion that Doug Pederson might want to look out for his future by trading up in the draft to possibly draft Carson Wentz, declaring that he wants a trade out of Philly and that he will not show up for any workouts. Any quarterback worth his salt would welcome the competition. Hell, the Patriots seem to draft a QB every two years and Tom Brady only gets better. But again, this is privilege we’re dealing with here. When you’ve been handed everything without really having to earn it, an infusion of competition could seem like oppression. Sound familiar??
Sam Bradford has been the poster child for privilege in the NFL. I brought up his NFL doppelgänger, Josh Freeman for a reason. Despite being drafted lower and having similar production, Freeman is no longer in the league…yet Bradford is?? If the reason Freeman is no longer in the league is that he played himself out of it, it’s totally understandable. It’s certainly not the first instance of a player being run out of the league for lack of performance. But, so has Bradford. When you factor in Bradford’s entire body of work (#1 overall pick, mega rookie contract, 33 games missed due to injury and ZERO playoff appearances), a career as a backup (at best) would seem more suitable, rather than being treated as a player that has accomplished something noteworthy. For him to expect anything from an NFL team given his resumé speaks to his warped sense of entitlement — a resumé, up until now that has come with hardly any criticism.
Meanwhile, Cam Newton, the league MVP, can’t escape criticism. Whether it’s for the way he handles his postgame press conferences or for the way he celebrates on the field. Newton is a magnet for criticism despite being far superior as a player with some of the same credentials as Bradford coming into the league. Like Bradford, Newton was a Heisman Trophy winner and a number 1 overall pick. And the comparisons end there. Cam Newton has been setting records from the very beginning of his career and has improved his already immense skill set each year. Newton finally led the Panthers to the playoffs in 2014, and in 2015 he led the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season and a Super Bowl appearance. Sam Bradford has yet to sniff a post-season yet he (and obviously those close to him) thinks he is above having to prove himself. Did I mention he was given $22 Million guaranteed?
Whether it’s his parents or his agent, Sam Bradford needs to be given a reality check (one that he can’t cash for a change). He needs to appreciate that 1) he is still IN the NFL and 2) that he is being paid handsomely given his bust of a career. I guess you can’t really blame the privileged. As long as they are given things without earning them, why would you start now? And the fact that this is happening in Philadelphia just takes the cake. The city that’s won nothing but acts like it has finally has a QB they can truly appreciate. No wonder Philly hasn’t run him out of town yet. He’s one of them!
Jokes aside, Sam Bradford is in no position to be demanding anything. He’s been a bust by all accounts and should be in the same position as other flame-out QBs that have underperformed. The fact that he is still holding one of the 32 premier gigs in the sport boggles the mind. But the NFL has a way of humbling even the great ones. Considering Bradford is not in that category, he should just be thankful that he is still being compensated as if he was.