Sam's NFL decision: 10 things to argue when reading tea leaves
By all indications this time tomorrow we will know if Sam Bradford has crushed hundreds of thousands of Sooner fans hearts or filled them with jubilation as he makes his NFL intentions known.
I'm not buying that "numerous" NFL people believe Bradford wouldn't be picked until somewhere between 10 and 20. Not buying it. One guy might say it. Two might suggest it. "Numerous?" No way. Who has talked to "numerous" NFL people?
For one, my good pal Jones-10 years NFL experience and a wily veteran of multiple wars on and off the field-emphatically states the fact that these underclassmen have not even been tested by the NFL. His point is clear. How can a Detroit or Kansas City-pitiful teams needing QBs picking No. 1 and 3-take a guy like Bradford, pay him all that money, expect him to play before he's physically or otherwise ready, and leave safer, more qualified lineman on the board?
Pat knows more in his pinky finger than any of us in the media around here will ever know about the NFL and the draft. He and I talk often and agree 95 percent of the time-he's wrong 5% of the time (ha!). But as Decision Time is here for Bradford, I'm believing that whether the decision is correct or not, one of the top five teams will draft Bradford. And that's not the point right now. The only point is that someone has to lead the Bradford's to "believe" he will be picked in the top five.
Rumors everywhere. Just got a call saying Martha The Mother (of Sam-a schoolteacher) told someone at her school that her son is coming back....that's about as accurate as rumors that always circulate before a big game like the one before the title game that had Bradford with 104 degree temperature and sick as a dog.
People are reading everything in everything....just picking at straws...turning mole hills into mountains. This Bradford NFL nail biter is the ultimate he-said she-said opportunity. And it's not going wasted. The perfect place to hear someone say, my step brother's neighbor's babysitter said her nephew who lives in Slovakia heard from Joe The Plumber through Sarah Palin's sister Sally , that her mailman heard from his part-time mailman, whose kindergarten part-time teacher told him that when her car was broken down she took it in the shop and the car guy said he'd heard on radio but didn't believe it that "Boomerang Bob" and "King Jiminy Christmas" felt darn sure if their friends the "Tooth Fairy of Norman" and "Hooky Bur-zhay" were telling them the truth that Sam was staying.
Reading tea leaves is an inexact science. That's why we have Mr. Tea Leaves and his counterpart, Mr. Anti-Leaves on board for their takes.
We put the Leaves to work on some of the most recent comments and information to try and figure out if Bradford is going to return to the Sooners or declare for the NFL draft.
- 1. Sam's father Kent told the Tulsa World the decision will be based upon "the quickest way to reach his long-term goals." Tea Leaves says the word "quickest" could only mean one thing--NFL. Anti-Leaves agrees, believing the word "quickest" never equates to anything associated with staying, or being patient.
- 2. Kent responded to questions suggesting some NFL people were projecting Sam to only be a No. 10 to No. 20 pick by saying there's "a huge amount of inaccurate information" out there. Tea Leaves says not good for the Sooners. Says Mr. Bradford was irked at the notion that some think his son would drop that low after seeing all the other "experts" rate him as a pick that will go somewhere between one and five or no lower than nine. Anti-Leaves believes his compadre should chill. Says Kent's right. There is a ton of inaccurate information out there, especially this early in an evaluation process.
- 3. We're told Sam knows the decision. Tea Leaves says if he knows and isn't saying it's bad news because he'd have come out already if here were staying and that he'd do it early and try to influence TE Gresham to stay. But Anti-Tea says Sam is never Sudden. No big deal in waiting. One or two extra nights to ponder never hurts.
- 4. Tea Leaves says it was Sam Bradford Day in OKC and that means he's gone. Anti-Leaves says Mick wanted to pay special notice to a fellow PCO (Putnam City kids program Mick's dad started and Sam's dad now oversees) lad. Wasn't bad press for our master Mayor either....Mayor Mick's no dummy.
- 5. No one from the Bradford camp is saying anything. Family, friends, dogs or cats. Tea Leaves says it means he's probably gone. That if he were staying someone would have leaked it out because it would be too good of news to not let out to people dying to hear that kind of news. Anti-Leaves points to the "he said she said" paragraph above and says moot point.
- 6. Indications are OU would like to hold a press conference to announce Sam is staying. But Kent told me today that is not in the plans. Tea Leaves believes that's a very bad sign. Anti-Leaves believes Sam is shy, sick of all the attention and believes just the opposite of Tim Tebow. Anti-Leaves says Sam would prefer the "no news is good news" style. That press conferences are most always held in these cases if a player is to announce he is not entering the draft).
- 7. I spoke with Kent Bradford today and he basically confirmed that his only son knows what he's going to do. That he's spoken with several unbiased people-like an Archie Manning and maybe sons Eli and/or Peyton-who'd rather their names not be publicized. Tea Leaves says that's good news for OU. Says it worked out pretty well for the Mannings, who all three stayed through their senior seasons. Anti-Leaves believes that argument makes sense to a degree but points to the fact that Matthew Stafford of Georgia is coming out and he got advice from the Mannings as well. And anybody the Bradford's would select to give them insight could not argue that if he believes he'll be a Top 5 pick it'd be hard to say no to the $50-70 million.
- 8. Sam knows what he's going to do. My opinion is that he will first tell his position coach and former idol Josh Heupel first (Heupel announced he's returning to OU to coach after overtures from Minnesota to become OC). Of course Tea Boone Leaves thinks it's a bad sign when a player goes to his easy-going position coach and not directly to his bundle of energy head coach who you gotta know is begging deep down in his heart for his "best quarterback in my time here at OU" to stay another year so he could possibly make a run at good things versus trotting out a work in progress QB and new players who are bound to struggle mightily. Anti-Leaves sort of agrees. But he also thinks it helps OU's chances with Heupel returning. The improvement Bradford has made under Heupel is startling. If he got bigger and improved has as much next year as he did this year-and didn't get hurt-his stock would skyrocket.
9. Crimson Connie over there brings up the point that Bradford grew up idolizing his QB coach and that he couldn't pass up the opportunity to be with his coach who told us that Sam has a lot to improve on and should stay. Tea Leaves won't go there. Leaves argues that $50 million is $50 million. Anyway, Sam can call his idol/QB coach anytime he wants. Heck, he could buy him a new home and a signed "SOONERS 14" Sam Bradford autographed jersey if he felt like it. Forget sentimentality. Ben Franklin may be dead. But a bunch of Benji's on the table speaks louder than words. Even to Steady as She Blows guy like Sam Bradford.
- 10 The "chick" factor would fit in there somewhere if I were in Sam's shoes (and chick is a word we never use and is used only in this case because it's more collegial than what us 50-somethings would say-"woman" factor). Anyway, Sam's got a girl who lives around the corner here in Oak Tree. Delightful, I understand. Not bad on the eyes either. But she can travel too if need be. Or if "need" not be, Sam wouldn't be exactly neglected by the opposite sex: a Heisman winner, first-round draft pick, hoped-for savior, instant millionaire, and an eligible bachelor whose brains and brawn would be obvious to any and all. Tea Leaves passes on this one. He believes this paragraph is wasted ink and time. Anti-Leaves agrees.
Since there is new information coming in regularly, it is completely fair to be able to change one's mind. So I am altering mine back to my original position. As of Tuesday night I'm back to leaning 60-40 that it's Bye Bye Bradford.
Gnashing of Teeth will begin tomorrow as the story surely won't be held back till the deadline. Tea Leaves says that's not Bradford's style anyway.