Opinion from OU Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny Mossman.
The day that Sam Bradford announced he was returning to Oklahoma for his junior year, one could almost feel the sigh heave forth from the Sooner nation. On many fronts, Sam's decision was cause for celebration.
If I read the emotions correctly, the first response was a combination of relief and euphoria while the second was an outpouring of gratitude. It's that second point that I'd like to address in this space.
What is the appropriate way to say, "Thank You?"
As we ponder that question, let's first go back to early December and a chilly night in New York City. It was then that William Dockery told the world that the 74th Heisman Trophy was being presented to the Oklahoma quarterback.
Multiple times over the next three days, Bradford heard how his life would change as he carried the mantel of the Heisman. Well before the return trip to Norman, proof of that change was lighting up my Blackberry ... with requests for appearances by and autographs from Sam.
In a more tangible way, he soon came face to face with that change at the forfeiture of what little anonymity he had left.
The demands have only increased with the passing of time. At this writing, no fewer than three banquets are seeking to host Sam, one of which is asking him to set the date, while two requests to address high school graduations, including one in another state, also await.
That's five events and just the tip of the iceberg.
From a distance, I can see that the myriad of tugs on this young man's sleeve are flattering. I can also see that they are overwhelming. Some people embrace that kind of spotlight. Sam Bradford, while gracious at every turn and so appreciative of the recognition, does not.
This is a guy of genuine humility. The attention, aside from being a role model to children, bothers him because his values are such that attention is embarrassing and uncomfortable.
Sam loves playing quarterback at Oklahoma, he loves making Sooner fans happy and he prefers to enjoy a meal undisturbed.
Is that still possible given his current standing? Probably not, although some of that depends on all of us and our willingness to let him do the latter.
I am not so naive to think that Sam Bradford bypassed the NFL simply because of his affection for OU. I think we all know that he went through a strenuous process during which he considered his warm feelings for the university, but also his projection in the draft.
Still, in the end, he chose to come back. He came back to classmates, coaches, teammates and most definitely Sooner fans. In other words, he came back to the people.
It was the people who made this situation one that would keep a young man coming back. Brick and mortar are no match for relationships.
So, our task then seems simple. The best way to send our gratitude to Sam is to treat him in the same manner that led him to fall in love with the University of Oklahoma in the first place.
We can smile, wave, nod ... and let the guy eat.
Read an inside perspective from the OU Athletics Department on the latest Sooner sports topics. Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny Mossman
provides his thoughts in his online column at SoonerSports.com.