Bradford’s celebrity something new at OU
I wrote about Sam Bradford’s celebrity in the Monday Oklahoman, how the demand for any sliver of Bradford — personified in the crazy autograph scene following the Red-White Game — is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Soonerville.
OU’s Kenny Mossman, director of athletic communications, hasn’t been around as long as I have but gets to see more, being on the inside, and says he hasn’t seen anything like it, either.
Mossman said Bradford’s autograph decisions are strictly his own and that Bradford is aware of autograph marketing, how some people will try to make a buck off Bradford. Mossman said Bradford learned that quickly in New York during the Heisman Trophy festivities.
And a security guard Saturday on Owen Field, while we watched Bradford sign autograph after autograph, asked me how many of those items would end up on eBay.
But Mossman’s hunch is that Bradford saw all those fans and noticed something. A bunch of them were young — I would guess half the crazy crowd waiting for him was under 15 — and most of them wore crimson. Could some of those be plants by the memorabilia marketers? Sure. But seems like it’s a group worth taking a chance on.
Mossman said he’s already trying to figure out how to deal with Meet the Sooners day, the August event in which the OU squad signs autographs for the public. If Saturday was any indication, OU might have to have separate, simultaneous events. One for Bradford, one for everyone else, just to lessen the crowd.
Mossman said the speaking requests for Bradford are unlike any other Sooner he’s been around. One request came from California. A New Mexico high school asked Bradford to deliver its graduation address. A church in St. Louis asked him to speak on Easter Sunday. One event Bradford did accept — a speaking invitation at his Oklahoma City church, with OSU quarterback Zac Robinson also on the program.
“He’s pulled in a lot of directions,” Mossman said. “It’s unique around here.”
Mossman was as clueless as I was on exactly how to explain the phenomenon. Sure, it’s rare to have a returning Heisman Trophy winner, but both Billy Sims and Jason White won Heismans and came back to OU, and neither experienced anything like this.
Bradford’s Cherokee heritage probably has some allure. And while he’s more comfortable in the spotlight than, say, White was, Bradford still isn’t thrilled with it.
Is it possible that Bradford is so mature, he understands the landscape, that with great accomplishments and great status comes great responsibility? That’s a lesson some 40-year-old coaches haven’t learned, much less 21-year-old quarterbacks.
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