Leave it to Rams rookie receiver Mardy Gilyard to bring quarterback Sam Bradford down to Earth. Of course, if truth be known, Bradford never has his head in the clouds.
Gilyard, an instant sound bite every time he talks, said he calls Bradford “Cowboy” because “he always wears Cowboy boots.”
Of course, Bradford can now afford a lot of cowboy boots after signing his six-year, $78 million contract at 2 p.m. Saturday, just one hour before the start of his first training-camp practice. As Gilyard said, “Ching, ching.”
Once he signed, Bradford got down to business, looking comfortable running the offense in a workout that consisted mostly of short passing. He did complete a nice pass down the right sideline to Keenan Burton.
After finding out Friday evening at about 7 p.m. that a contract agreement was in place, Bradford flew to St. Louis Saturday morning and landed at about 10:30. He admitted to being really frustrated at times during the previous couple days. He explained that his agent would tell him he was going into a meeting, and then he wouldn’t hear anything for five or five hours.
Bradford said, “Tom (Condon) would tell me, ‘We’re getting ready to go into a meeting. I’ll call you afterwards,’ and it would be four or five hours and I’m doing nothing but looking at the phone because starting Tuesday he told me, ‘You’ve got to be ready to come up here at any time.’ I think there was a late flight out of Oklahoma City, so every night he was like, ‘Be prepared to catch that flight.’ So all day I’m just sitting there like, ‘All right, I might catch it tonight.’ Then five hours would go by and I wouldn’t hear anything and then he’d call and be like, ‘Maybe tomorrow.’ That was really frustrating at times.”
Then, he figured it would be a quick signing once he arrived at Rams Park, but some delays in the language in the contract kept that from happening until several hours later.
He said, "I expected to come here today and as soon as I got here, it to be done. I kind of had to wait around a little bit. There were some last-minute things that had to be worked out, so finally seeing that pen in my hand and signing it and knowing that I can get to work with my teammates, it’s a huge sigh of relief.”
“I thought I threw the ball well today,” he said, crediting that to the work he did throwing during the time between the end of OTAs in mid-June and the start of training camp.
“Our tight end Jermaine Gresham was back in Norman, so we got together literally about every day and if he couldn’t be there I would just grab either some freshman wide receivers at OU or some managers and just make sure I had someone to throw to,” Bradford said. “I think that’s one of the things, I felt like I threw it well today and I think that’s because I put in some good work over the past couple weeks.”
After practice Saturday, he signed autographs for about 10 minutes.
Despite the angst expressed because Bradford missed three rookie practices, most important was that he was there with his 79 new teammates for the first full-squad workout.
Rams vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Sam wanted to be here Thursday. But these are complex deals. I think it's a credit to (agents) Tom (Condon) and Ben (Dogra) and Sam for working diligently throughout the process. The most important thing, though, is Sam wanting to be here (on time)."
Condon told the Post-Dispatch, "You've seen Sam during the spring practices. He's ultra-competitive, unbelievably conscientious, and completely committed. He certainly didn't want to lose any advantage, so it was important to him to get there to camp and get going. There's no question he's a special guy."
After practice Friday, coach Steve Spagnuolo was asked what he would say to Demoff about Bradford. Said Spagnuolo, “When I see Kevin I say, ‘Just give me one word; I’m looking for D-O-N-E,’ and when I donít get that I say OK I’ve got to go to practice.”
Saturday, Spagnuolo said about Demoff, “I just gave him a big hug.”
Howard Balzer is the Editor/writer for GridIronGateway Magazine. For subscription information visit GridIronGateway.com (reduced online rate of $39.95) or call 888-501-5752. You can also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/HBalzer721