Commentary

Injury puts '08 season in perspective

Updated: December 11, 2009, 11:21 AM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

How is Sam Bradford doing?

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
James Lang/US PresswireSam Bradford's 2008 campaign culminated in the Heisman Trophy.

It's been a common question throughout this awful season for the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner and 2009 Heartbreak Trophy winner. Especially this week, with the '09 Heisman about to be awarded.

The answer: He's not doing all that well.

"I used to love Saturdays," Bradford told me. "This year it got to the point where I dreaded Saturdays."

That's because he spent most Saturdays out of shoulder pads -- many of them with his right arm in a sling. That's the same right arm that threw for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns last year as Oklahoma won 12 games and advanced to the BCS championship game.

This year, with huge anticipation and expectations, Bradford's body broke down two quarters into the season -- he was knocked out against BYU with a shoulder injury. He returned for a game against Baylor and then a cataclysmic cameo against Texas, bowing out of that huge rivalry game in the first quarter after reinjuring the shoulder.

The look on Bradford's face after the Red River game was dejection personified. Not sure I've ever seen a player so intensely disappointed.

And the disappointment was only amplified with every passing week on the sidelines, as Oklahoma's season crash-landed into mediocrity.

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Tim Heitman/US PresswireAfter an early season injury, Bradford spent the '09 season on the sideline.

"I know God has a plan and everything happens for a reason," Bradford said. "I kept telling myself that as many times as I could, but you'd still question why things happen the way they happen. It took a long time to stop the questioning. I got better, but there were still a lot of days when I woke up with that question.

"There's still days when I've got to try to pick myself up, days when I'm down. I'm finally starting to get back to myself now."

Bradford said his rehab is going well, and he's on schedule to be physically ready to participate in Oklahoma's Pro Day in 2010. A high draft spot and lucrative contract would help mitigate the physical and emotional pain of this year.

If this season did anything for Bradford, it at least sharpened his appreciation for what he accomplished last year. He will undoubtedly feel some sting watching fellow '08 Heisman finalists Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy return to Manhattan for the award show Saturday night (ESPN, 8 ET). But he'll also feel appreciation for what nobody can ever take away -- his own Heisman.

"It really does put things in perspective," he said. "I'm extremely proud I was able to get there last year. But it's disappointing not to have had the chance to get back there."

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.