NORMAN — Sam Bradford sent a parting message to Oklahoma football fans Saturday. Sadly, his message was delivered on a scoreboard screen rather than on Owen Field.
Five minutes before the opening kickoff against Oklahoma State, a taped message featuring Bradford was shown to the sellout crowd of 85,606.
Bradford shared how he fulfilled his dream of playing at OU. He thanked fans, coaches, teammates and family for their support, said it was an "honor and privilege" to play for the Sooners and closed with "Boomer Sooner."
As the screen faded to black, the largest crowd to ever witness a Bedlam game roared. A few seconds later, Bradford's mug reappeared and he suddenly became a departing cheerleader with one final plea.
"This is Bedlam ... Let's rock this house."
Bradford's teammates promptly rocked the Cowboys 27-0.
In the stands, Kent Bradford was unaware his son had videotaped a farewell message and chuckled at his soft-spoken son's sheepish attempt to get fans riled.
Slingin' Sam's throwing shoulder remains in a sling thanks to season-ending surgery performed Oct. 28.
Bradford doesn't have to wear the sling in everyday life, "They just want him wearing it when he's in a crowd," Kent explained.
This wasn't how Bradford wanted to say good-bye to Owen Field, nor was it how OU fans wanted to share one last hurrah.
When you include Bradford's redshirt freshman season, he wound up going 4-0 against the Cowboys, but actually participated only twice.
In the 2007 and 2008 Bedlam games, Bradford was a combined 41-of-59 passing for eight touchdowns, one interception and one sideline helicopter ride last year in Stillwater.
After Saturday's game, Bradford hid from interview requests, which is his way. He wouldn't dare draw attention away from the lashing his teammates had just given their rivals from up north.
"It's just been hard on Sam," Kent said quietly. "It's hard to have to stand there and watch, hard not to be out there."
Sam Bradford certainly didn't mind watching the Sooners' defense post their third shutout of the season and their depleted offense slowly gain momentum as Saturday's game progressed.
"I thought it was a pretty impressive game for them, all the way around," Kent said. "They came to play. That sure finishes off a (regular) season in a nice way."
Bradford was knocked out of two games this season, landing on his throwing shoulder each time. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner played less than seven total quarters. He has one year of college eligibility remaining, but won't use it. Bradford is off to make millions, and deservedly so.
OU junior tight end Jermaine Gresham also will enter the 2010 NFL Draft one year early. Presumably, so will junior defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
Gresham had season-ending knee surgery, but didn't get an opportunity to say good-bye on the field or on the scoreboard in Saturday's home finale. That privilege belonged solely to Bradford.
McCoy's home-field good-bye came the best way possible — with a shutout. Unfortunately, Gresham and Bradford also were shut out.
"You know, sometimes you have a few hurdles in life," Kent Bradford said with a shrug. "You've just got to jump over them and move on. It's just the way it goes."
John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.