Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford may or may not play against Baylor this Saturday with that injured right shoulder. But he has no regrets that he decided to come back to Oklahoma and pursue a national title instead of heading to the NFL early.
And he still hasn't given up on his dream yet.
"You say the national championship is out of the picture, but what happens if we win nine straight games and we win the Big 12? There's still a possibility," Bradford said Tuesday in his first public comments in a month. "To win another Big 12 championship and become the first team to win four straight Big 12 championships, I still think there's a lot in front of this team and I think it would be extremely selfish for me to say, `The possibility of a national championship is slim now, so why come back?'"
Bradford held out hope that he'd be able to play Saturday against Baylor (3-1) to get a game under his belt before the 19th-ranked Sooners (2-2) face No. 2 Texas in their annual rivalry game in Dallas.
A final decision on whether he will face the Bears isn't expected until at least Thursday.
Bradford said surgery hasn't been ruled out as a treatment option, though it's possible he won't need it.
"Obviously, that's a concern and it's something that I've talked to my family about and I've talked to our coaches and something I've talked to the doctors about. But I still think that's down the road," Bradford said. "Obviously, it is a concern but I'm focused on trying to get back out there and help my team this year."
Bradford has been frustrated by his recovery from a Grade 3 sprain of the AC joint in his throwing shoulder. He's already moved beyond the two to four weeks he was supposed to miss after getting hurt just before halftime in the Sooners' 14-13 season-opening loss to BYU, and there is no firm timetable for his return.
He wasn't in uniform for the 21-20 loss at Miami on Saturday that likely knocked Oklahoma out of the national championship race.
"I think the past three or four weeks have probably been the toughest three or four weeks I've had in a long time," Bradford said. "Just the amount of preparation and the time spent preparing for the season, not being able to be out there with my teammates, especially in a game like that _ a big game on a national stage _ that's really tough.
"I think any competitor, it's just not a good feeling."
Bradford said his shoulder got sore as he went through practice last week, and he didn't feel comfortable that he was prepared to play against Miami. At this point, he thinks a "big percentage" of the decision on when he'll play again rests in his hands instead of with coaches or doctors.
"I guess I'm clear. Obviously, I guess it really just has to go through the week without any excess soreness after the throwing. That's the big deal," said Bradford, who has been throwing in practice the past two weeks.
"I have to be able to make it through a week without taking any steps back. As long as that happens, then the doctors are fine."
Bradford said doctors have indicated that there's no more risk of him re-injuring his shoulder by getting hit than there was of him hurting it in the first place.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said his primary concern with Bradford's recovery is whether he has enough stamina to be able to play a full game without shoulder issues.
"Watching him throw last week, I think there was very few throws you did think he could not make," Wilson said. "It's just a matter of over the course of a game, is his strength level there that there's still the zip on the ball and the rhythm?"
Bradford had been considered a top NFL prospect last year, rated along with Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez among the top college quarterbacks. He dismissed the suggestion that, because of the injury, he made the wrong decision to pass up the NFL.
"Money's not everything," Badford said. "Obviously, I think some people, they think it is. But to me, there are a lot more things. I dreamed about coming to Oklahoma and playing football. We didn't have a pro team in Oklahoma, so this was like my pro team. This was who I wanted to play for, and my experience here has been unbelievable.
"I felt like coming back and adding to that experience would be a great thing for me."
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