x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Heisman winner's double dilemma

The University of Oklahoma star junior quarterback Sam Bradford had a tough decision to make this week.

The University of Oklahoma star junior quarterback Sam Bradford had a tough decision to make this week. He also had a tough decision last spring. The defending Heisman Trophy winner bypassed the NFL entry draft eight months ago, when he was projected to be a top five pick, which means he passed up the US$30 million (Dh110m) that a top five pick is guaranteed. This season he has been seriously injured twice as his Oklahoma team has struggled.

The 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, awarded to the MVP of college football, suffered a sprained joint in his right shoulder late in the second quarter of Oklahoma's season opener against Brigham Young University and missed the remainder of that game. He sat out the Tulsa and Idaho State games before coming back to lead the Sooners to a 33-7 win over Baylor. The following week, Bradford injured the shoulder again on Oklahoma's second offensive series against Texas. He missed the remainder of that game and sat out last Saturday's 35-13 win at Kansas.

After the October 17 injury Bradford was faced with the decision - battle thorough and keep playing or have surgery that would end his season. He chose the latter. "I dreamed about coming to Oklahoma my whole life," Bradford said. "That's the reason I came back for this season. And I came back to play, not sit on the bench. That's the reason I tried to play after the injury. I'm very disappointed that it didn't work out differently."

However, that was just the first of Bradford's dilemmas. Now that his junior year was at an end, Bradford again faced the issue of returning to Oklahoma for his senior season or entering the NFL draft. It seems like an obvious choice. Millions of dollars are waiting for Bradford again Could he walk past the winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk for two years in a row? For college football stars, the temptation to leave school early for the NFL has been tempered by the fact that they can insure themselves.

Bradford has an insurance policy that will pay him $2m if his football career is ended because of injury. He chose to enter the draft. Here is the thing: Bradford's shoulder injury is not career ending, but it may hurt him financially. If Bradford had gone to the NFL last year and been the first overall pick, he could have been guaranteed $41m. If he drops in the 2010 draft to the 15 spot because of questions about his injured shoulder, he may get $10m.

I know what you are saying, "only $10m?" But think about the idea of getting paid a quarter of the salary for the same job. That is what Bradford is facing. He did have another option. He could have stayed at Oklahoma for another season and, with a healthy shoulder, shown the NFL teams that his is still the top player in the country and have another chance to compete for a national title. He said no to that.

No matter what he decided, both choices were attractive. I wish he had stayed at Oklahoma. I always wish that college stars would stay at university. You cannot recreate the college experience later in life. In the US, being the 20-year old star quarterback of a major college is akin to being royalty. Football is not completely a job yet, like it becomes in the NFL. Selfishly, I just want to keep the star player in the college game for my viewing pleasure.

I would like to think that if I were in Bradford's position I would have stayed at Oklahoma for one more year, but I cannot criticise him for going to the NFL now. @Email:ppabst@thenational.ae