Our long national nightmare is over. Sam Bradford is showing up for work.
“He’ll be here this week. He’ll be here today,” Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin told WIP Radio on Monday. “He texted me and said ‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’ and I said, ‘I can’t wait, man.’”
It’s a good thing Bradford wasn’t around Philly for the last week because he has been getting lambasted by anyone and everyone with a microphone, keyboard or a social media account. Eagles fans are a fickle lot to say the least, but the speed at which the fan base—and the media who fed the angst—turned on Bradford was incredible.
All for what? Four days.
“You know, he really missed one week,” Barwin told Howard Eskin on WIP’s morning program, “and there are a lot of other guys who have missed one week over the last month or so. So he missed a couple of days, he’s coming back, and everything is back to normal.”
“The media kind of made it a big deal that he was gone last week, but really, at the end of the day, it was only four days.”
At the end of the day it was technically almost five days, Connor, so you can imagine how much everyone would be freaking out over that.
To review: Bradford re-signed for two years in the off-season, getting a hefty signing bonus and a team-friendly contract. Everybody wins. Then new head coach Doug Pederson brought in his right-hand man Chase Daniel on a three-year deal to be Bradford’s back-up. Pederson told both quarterbacks their roles, while explaining the team was expecting to draft a quarterback this season to be the guy for the future.
Everything was hunky-dory. Then the Eagles traded two Chip Kelly players to move up to the eighth spot the draft, then packaged that, plus next year’s first rounder and a few other picks to move from No. 8 to No. 2 to take Carson Wentz.
Bradford went from being the starter with little competition to looking over his one shoulder at his coach’s pal and the other shoulder at the future of the franchise. So he asked to leave. Whether he requested or demanded a trade is up for debate, but there’s no disputing the fact that fans—and, again, the media—turned on him for not being willing to compete for the job he was told he already had.
Even though competing for the job this year wasn’t the reason he wanted a trade, people took it as an opportunity to call Bradford soft. Which, sure, he probably is. But that wasn’t the point. And yet, because it became the point, it is.
Even Joe Theismann is going after Bradford at this point. From TheScore.com, via SiriusXM:
“I can not believe what Sam Bradford is doing with the Philadelphia Eagles,” Theismann said on Saturday. “The impression that I get is that this guy here doesn’t want to compete. He’s not interested in playing quarterback. He’s not interested in competing at the quarterback position. He wants it handed to him on a silver platter. Well that’s not the way life is.”
Only, that is the way life has been for Bradford. A three-star recruit at Oklahoma, he earned the Sooners starting job as a redshirt freshman over a true freshman and career backup. He had a good year in 2007, then won the Heisman trophy in 2008.
In 2009, Bradford played just three games, throwing a total of 69 passes, 49 of which came in his only win that year, before turning pro and going first overall to the Rams in the 2010 draft.
Bradford started 16 games as a rookie. Every time he got hurt, which was a lot, he was put right back in the starting lineup when he came back. He started 49 games for the Rams before being traded—to be the starter—for the Eagles. Again, after missing an entire season in 2014 and more than half of 2013, he was handed a starting job.
For Bradford, that’s the only way life has been, at least in the NFL. So yeah, it makes perfect sense the guy would want to look for a situation where he can get handed another job rather than competing for one over a guy who was drafted second overall and is in line to get handed an NFL job, himself.
Wentz won’t have to prove anything either. At some point, even if he’s horrible in training camp or practice this year, the Eagles are going to put him in the starting lineup at some point in the next two years. We hope he’s amazing, yes, so we can put this whole Bradford debacle behind us by the bye week, but if this awkward situation lasts and entire year and Wentz has to wait an entire season before becoming the next John Elway, waiting won’t seem that terrible five trips to the Super Bowl from now.
By season’s end—or probably before that—we’ll know what the future will hold at quarterback for the Eagles. But with Bradford back, it stands to reason we should make a lot less of an ordeal out of a guy looking for another situation for one week, then realizing nothing is out there, so he came back to work. Ho-freaking-hum.
“You know, I think at the end of the day all that we really care about in the locker room is who is the best quarterback,” Barwin told WIP on Monday. “Who is going to help us win games?
“And I think, right now, we’re excited—we know we drafted Carson Wentz—but I think most of the locker room, if not all of us, understand that Sam is our starting quarterback and he’s going to be the best quarterback to help us win next year. So we’re all excited to have him back.”
We should all be exited to have Bradford back. Or not. Whatever. Honestly in a year it won’t matter. But whether or not you’re exited right now should have to do with his merits as a quarterback, and his ability to help the team win this year, not whatever misguided anger you—and the media—have developed over the last two weeks.
Boo him when he throws a pick in the red zone or misses an open receiver. Don’t boo him because he didn’t want to compete for the job he was given without ever having to compete for it, or most others, in the first place.