A very wise surgeon once told me, "Do me a favor, don’t ever play doctor in the newspaper.” Trouble is, I’ve often struggled when it comes to following doctors’ orders.
Which brings me to Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. My fictitious doctorate today comes more as a psychologist than as a physician. On Monday we learned Bradford ruled out surgery as an option to repair the right shoulder separation he suffered last Saturday night against Brigham Young. The entire Sooner Nation simultaneously exhaled and rejoiced. From what I’ve been told, it took Bradford approximately one one-hundredth of a second to decide he was going to come back this season. Hate to say this, but part of me is thinking Bradford shouldn’t return. Shoulder injuries heal at a different pace. Scheduled returns are expectations that vary greatly. Some shoulder injuries never fully heal, like mine. Guess I should have followed doctor’s orders. This entire mess would be much simpler had Bradford fallen on his non-throwing shoulder. We expected nothing less than an immediate quest to return from Bradford, who two years ago checked himself back into the Texas Tech game with a concussion. Bradford is smart and tough. No one has ever said otherwise and this is no time to start. Bradford knows what’s best for him, and so do his consensus All-American parents. But here is what would happen if Bradford opted not to return: →Coach Bob Stoops wouldn’t field daily questions about Bradford’s injury. → Playbook changes wouldn’t be changed back upon Bradford’s return. → Every OU player, coach and fan wouldn’t have one eye on the sideline, wondering when Bradford might return. → Redshirt freshman and replacement quarterback Landry Jones wouldn’t be looking over his shoulder. → Players in the Sooner offensive huddle wouldn’t be looking over Jones’ shoulder. You get the idea. Bradford won last year’s Heisman Trophy and is undeniably gifted, but he alone can’t save this year’s Sooners — not given what transpired throughout the entire offensive unit against BYU, plus the season — ending knee injury to Jermaine Gresham, the nation’s premier tight end. As cold and harsh as it sounds, OU could turn the page if it knew Bradford would not return. By sitting out this year, Bradford would be free to rehab at his own pace with far less risk of re-injury. It would give Bradford a few months to clear his head and thoroughly examine his future plans. A redshirt junior, Bradford could enter the 2010 NFL draft, or return as a senior if he felt he had something to prove because of the injury. Bordering on the absurd, Bradford eventually would be eligible to petition for a sixth season at OU, a la Jason White.
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