COLUMN: Despite misfortune, potential draftees face bright future
I don’t really believe in karma; however, it’s tough to deny that many times people are paid back for their bad decisions. Likewise, those who make respectable decisions are often rewarded.
Come Thursday night we’ll see another example of this phenomenon.
A year ago, optimism for OU football was out of control. Coming off a national championship appearance the season before, a talented collection of Sooner underclassmen turned down opportunities in the NFL to make one more run at a title.
It didn’t work out that way.
When a student athlete returns to school rather than take a shot at the pros, people question the decision. Despite the benefits (playing another year for your university, getting your degree, etc.), critics worry about an injury, a bad season or any small thing that could pop up and cost the kid money.
As OU’s 2009 football season played out, these critics seemed smart. Of OU’s returning underclassmen, none were more lauded than Heisman-winner Sam Bradford and All-Americans Gerald McCoy, Jermaine Gresham and Trent Williams. And they all had seasons that could have easily cost them money.
Gresham never stepped foot on the field in 2009 after injuring his knee prior to the first game. Bradford injured his throwing shoulder twice, only seeing action in one full game in 2009. Williams had what many considered an underwhelming year at left tackle (though he was again named an All-American), and McCoy played a huge role on a dominant defense that got little exposure thanks to OU’s mediocre record.
Somehow, though, things worked out.
If most projections are correct, each of those players will hear his name Thursday night during the NFL draft’s first round. Bradford is all but a lock for the top overall spot, McCoy will likely go third overall and Williams and Gresham should go in the first 32 picks as well.
Call it karma if you like, but there is certainly something strange going on here. NFL teams do not like to invest in players coming off injuries. Rumors are Bradford will receive a contract that gives him $50 million guaranteed. Teams do not give that to players who missed nearly their entire final season.
The same goes for Gresham, who won’t bring in as much as Bradford but will still receive a hefty first-round paycheck even though he hasn’t played in a football game since January 2009.
When these underclassmen announced their decision to return to OU last year, fans hoped that, at best, they would bring OU a title, but at worst, they’d just stay healthy.
Neither of those happened.
Somehow, though, this group has overcome the odds. The worst did happen to them, but they’re being rewarded for putting off the pros for a year to finish school, be with their teammates and make one final run at a title.
I am not sure if you can call that karma, but something was on the side of these former Sooners despite their woes in 2009. And maybe some OU fans can take solace in that fact. Despite the Sooner disappointment last season, if the NFL draft is any indication, 2010 could be a better year for the Sooners.