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Jenni Carlson


These Sooners get it

by Jenni Carlson Published: April 13, 2009
Fans clamored for a pen scratch from Sam Bradford.
After the Red-White Game on Saturday, the Oklahoma quarterback was a sought-after man. Little kids screamed until their little lungs burned. Grow men hollered as if their lives depended on it. Our man Berry Tramel even reported on the mob scene, saying that in all of his 30 years of covering the Sooners, he’d never seen anything like it.
Thing is, Bradford wasn’t the only one who stuck around and signed autograph after autograph.
As the afternoon wore toward evening, I looked around Owen Field and saw only three Sooners left. Bradford was one of them, but also working the wall of the east stands were Gerald McCoy and Dominique Franks. So, there were Oklahoma City natives Bradford and McCoy and Jenks product Franks. All three Oklahomans.


It hit me just then — these guys know how important it is to do as much as possible for the fans. They know because they were once the ones on the other side of the wall. They were once the Sooner fans who so desperately wanted a piece of their gridiron stars.
I even had a chance to ask Franks about it. He was one of the many Sooners interviewed for — we’ll be rolling out those videos in the coming days, so be sure to look for them — but he said that he understood how important it was to the fans to stay and sign.
Now, listen. I’ve never quite understood the lure of autographs. A signature on a piece of paper has never been important to me. I’d much rather shake a hand or exchange a few words with that person. Something tells me Franks might feel the same way.
But he kept right on signing. Ditto for McCoy and Bradford.
McCoy and Franks were on the field so long that one of the equipment managers came back out to the field to take their shoulder pads and helmets.
It was a pretty cool thing to see, those three Oklahomans, signing autograph after autograph. Interestingly, our man Berry said that security guard were under strict instructions to take Bradford into the locker room after a certain period of time. Apparently, that mandate didn’t apply to McCoy and Franks. They kept going long after Bradford was whisked away.

In fact, after I returned to the press box to gather my stuff, I looked down onto the field and saw one last Sooner at the wall. There were only a couple dozen fans left, but the player stood there, signing whatever anyone handed to him. Unfortunately, no one left in the pressbox had binoculars, so I can’t be certain if it was McCoy or Franks.  

Either way, it’s nice to know that all three of these players get it. They get how much it means to give back to the fans. They get it because they were once the ones clamoring on the other side of the wall.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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