Sam Bradford wants a puppy. Not just any puppy, either. The Oklahoma quarterback wants a Great Dane. "The first dog I ever had when I was little was a Great Dane,” he said. "I just think they’re really cool.” Not to mention really gargantuan. Great Danes are one of the biggest breeds of dogs on the planet. Think Marmaduke. Think small horse. But Bradford wants one because Great Danes have long been the dog of choice in the Bradford family. His parents had one before he was born. His cousin has one now. It’s what he’s always known. It’s comfortable. It’s normal. And these days, Bradford wants all the normal that he can muster. On Monday night, he was honored as the Headliner of the Year by the March of Dimes. There was a fancy-pants banquet at the Skirvin Hotel. There was a super-swanky set-up. There was a never-ending string of people who wanted to shake his hand and pat his back. Bradford handled all of it like a pro. Truth is, the dressing up and the hob knobbing and the glad handing really isn’t his scene. "But I think it’s something that I’ve just had to learn to adjust to over the past couple years,” Bradford said. "Obviously, with the success our team had last year, there’s been a lot more that has come my way.” Um, that might be underselling things just a tad. Bradford won the Heisman Trophy and just about every other big-time college football award last season. He’s been all over the country for all sorts of events. And as ballyhooed as he is nationally, he’s even more beloved locally. His hand was probably still cramped Monday from the number of autographs he signed Saturday after the Red-White Game. It wasn’t like all 28,000 people who were there wanted an autograph; it only seemed that way. "The biggest thing is that I’ve just got to try to stay myself,” Bradford said. "Some people think that’s hard to do, or even impossible, but I think that’s the key to everything. "If you let these things change you, then you’re not who you need to be or who you want to be.” Still, how is it possible to maintain normalcy amid this madness? Bradford swears he gets plenty of help from his teammates. They give him a hard time whenever he brings home another award or gussies up for another banquet. But Bradford takes matters into his own hands, too. He still has dinner with his family after games, but instead of going out to a restaurant, they eat at his place in Norman. He still golfs with his buddies. He still plays ping pong with his friends. He still tries to do the things he’s always done. Which brings us back to the Great Dane puppy. Never mind that training one of these pups would hardly be normal to most of us. Never mind that one Web site warns "a baby Dane can cause serious household damage.” Gulp. Bradford wants a Great Dane because that’s normal in his family. That’s what grew up around. That’s what he’s always known. His cousin even brought his Great Dane to Easter lunch at Grandma Bradford’s house. It got Bradford to thinking again about a puppy. "My mom’s not too thrilled about that idea,” he said, smiling. He admits that while he’s talked over the idea with one of his roommates, he has yet to bring it up with the other one. Maybe it will happen. Maybe it won’t. For Bradford, one of those gigantic canines would be just a little slice of normalcy.
The award winnersHeadliner of the Year →Sam Bradford, Oklahoma quarterback Headliner Special →Mike Knopp, Oklahoma City University rowing coach, and →Oklahoma City Thunder leadership Honoree Awards →Empire Cheerleading, special needs cheer squad →Matt Fodge, former Oklahoma State punter →Jonathan Horton, former OU gymnast and Olympic medalist →Anthony Kim, former OU golfer and PGA Tour player →OCU women’s golf team →Courtney Paris, former OU center Special Recognition →Don Haskins →Jack Mildren →Bobby Murcer