Today marks the beginning of Native American Heritage Month. To celebrate, we will highlight past and present Native American sports figures and their accomplishments. It’s hard to think of another Native American football player that had the type of career that Sam Bradford put together. Bradford, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Bradford is believed to be the first Cherokee to start at quarterback for a Division I university since Sonny Sixkiller, a full-blooded Cherokee, who was born here and starred at Washington in the early 1970s.
As a three-star prospect, Bradford would pick up offers from Texas A&M, Iowa State and Texas Tech but chose to stay home and attend Oklahoma. He would also pick up opportunities to play Division 1 basketball as a teammate an AAU teammate of NBA Star Blake Griffin.
Sam Bradford played four sports at an elite level throughout his childhood. He earned acclaim across the state on the golf course and in the hockey rink. He would dominating the hardwood throughout high school before choosing the gridiron.
Bradford would redshirt his freshman season before making the nation take notice. He would light up scoreboards for the Sooners, finishing the 2007 campaign with 3,121 yards and 36 TDs. He would lead Oklahoma to a Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl berth to finish the season.
While his first season at quarterback was outstanding, it only set the table for one of the greatest individual seasons in college football history. The following season Bradford would lead to the BCS national championship game. He racked up nearly 5,000 yards and threw for 50 touchdowns, while taking home the Heisman Trophy.
Bradford was draft-eligible and would have been the #1 draft pick, but elected to return to Oklahoma for his junior year. He would suffer a season ending injury in Week 1. Bradford wouldn’t appear in another game for the Sooners. The St. Louis Rams surprised no one when they selected him with the first overall pick, effectively handing him the keys to the franchise.
After a Rookie of the Year campaign in 2010 Bradford looked to be the next big superstar in the NFL before suffering multiple injuries and setbacks over the next few years. Bradford’s professional career spanned nine years, and featured tenures with the Rams, Eagles, Vikings and Cardinals. Bradford’s legacy in crimson is set in stone. From insignificant in-state pickup to top draft pick, his journey to greatness is unparalleled.
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