No bitterness as quarterback Bradford returns to Philadelphia


Sam Bradford returns to Philadelphia on Sunday aiming to extend Minnesota’s unbeaten start to the season in the latest twist to what has been a surreal year for the former Eagles quarterback.

Seven months ago, the 28-year-old put pen to paper on a two-year $36 million contract with Philadelphia which encouraged him to believe he would head into the season as the Eagles signal-caller.

Within weeks, however, Bradford’s future in Philadelphia was cast into question when the Eagles brokered a deal with the Cleveland Browns for second pick in the draft — and promptly snapped up highly rated rookie Carson Wentz.

While Wentz’s arrival effectively set the clock ticking on Bradford’s long-term future, Bradford’s shock move to Minnesota in September — following a serious knee injury to the Vikings Teddy Bridgewater — remains one of the blockbuster deals of the year.

Since then, the Vikings and Bradford have gone from strength to strength, shrugging off the loss of Bridgewater and injury to running back Adrian Peterson to remain the only unbeaten side in the National Football League heading into week seven.

No-one is more surprised at the way the year has unfolded than Bradford.

“I’ve seen a lot in my seven years (in the NFL),” Bradford said.

“I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. But this was not something I expected. I was ready and excited to be in Philly this year. Getting traded wasn?t even on my radar.”

– No good-byes –

The whirlwind nature of his departure from the Eagles — he was at home in Oklahoma on September 3 when he got the call informing he had been traded to the Vikings and needed to fly to Minnesota ASAP — meant he never got an opportunity to say a proper farewell to his Eagles team-mates.

“That part was tough,” said Bradford, who has averaged nearly 250 passing yards a game in his four starts for the Vikings this season.

“When you spend so much time with coaches and players, you build relationships and friendships on and off the field. When something happens so sudden like that, there’s always a part of you that’s a little down after that.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson admits even he was wrong-footed by the speed with which Bradford was traded to the Vikings, saying he fully expected him to start for Philadelphia this season.

“I was a little shocked,” Pederson said. “All along my plan was to have Sam start, with Chase (Daniel) No.2 and Carson (Wentz) No.3.”

Thus far the move has been win-win for both the Vikings and the Eagles. Wentz has enjoyed a 3-2 start, throwing for 1,186 yards in five games and building a passer rating of 99.9%.

– Twickenham test –

Elsewhere this weekend, the NFL’s international series in London will break new ground with the Los Angeles Rams facing the New York Giants at English rugby’s citadel Twickenham.

The Rams have prepared for the game at Pennyhill Park, the luxury hotel outside London which has long been used as the England rugby team’s training base. “We’re very grateful that we?ve been given the opportunity to share the facility, with a top-two team in rugby in the world to see what their world’s like,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

“It’s been a good experience. We want the players to go out and get a little feel for it.”

With the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys on a bye, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will look to move to 6-1 when they travel to Pittsburgh to face a Steelers side missing the injured Ben Roethlisberger, who underwent knee surgery this week.

The Seattle Seahawks (4-1) meanwhile face a crucial divisional battle with the Arizona Cardinals (3-3), looking to put even more daylight between last year’s National Football Conference championship runners-up in the NFC West.

© 2016 AFP

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