Sam Bradford has become a polarizing figure, so why hasn’t Fletcher Cox?

fletcher-cox

Today saw the end of the “Sam Bradford standoff”. The controversial absence from voluntary workouts that has sent the media into a frenzy has finally concluded..but it’s opened up another debate entirely. Many are now of the opinion that Bradford is either:

A) A cry baby
B) Afraid of competition
C) Attending because he now has no other option

But the NFL is a business..and some people are quick to forget that. After being back in the NovaCare building for less than 24 hours, it seems as though it’s all situation normal between Bradford and his teammates..

From Jordan Matthews further pushing the point that “Sam’s the guy for the job” to Doug Pederson saying his teammates will welcome him back with open arms, this has never been about what his teammates think of him. But why? If his decision to skip a few voluntary workouts and request a trade was so controversial and damning, why aren’t his teammates turning on him or at least approaching the situation with some hesitance?

Because they understand that the NFL is a business. Yes, it can be argued that if he wanted to be the long term option, Bradford shouldn’t have agreed to a two-year deal..but to think he didn’t push for a longer and more lucrative deal is extremely naive. The problem is that no other team would be willing to pay him what the Eagles were or offer him a deal that basically gives him one last stage to earn the contract he’s so insistent on signing.

The only people who are angry at Bradford are perhaps the most important people to this football team..the fans.

A lot of people were furious at Bradford for “bailing on the team” and began to see him in a very different light. But after he returned today, the reaction was still negative..as now fans want to see him gone completely or at the very least take a mild distaste to his actions.

It’s ironic however that these fans seem to forget that Fletcher Cox is yet to enter the NovaCare Complex for the team’s voluntary workouts despite the fact he still has one year left on his contract and has been constantly reassured that his long-term future is a priority for the Eagles.

Sure, Cox didn’t demand a trade and hasn’t been in the spotlight for the past few weeks, but a man who was rumored to be negotiating a deal upwards of $50M numerous times and was mentioned by Howie Roseman himself in saying he would get “great player money” is not showing up for voluntary workouts and yet he’s still regarded as a hero?

Maybe it’s because Sam Bradford has missed 33 career games with injury or maybe it’s because he’s never been to the playoffs. Perhaps it’s down to Cox’s phenomenal 2015 season that we’re overlooking his act of selfishness more than we should.

Sam Bradford was forced into a corner and decided to try and bite the hand that feeds him. Eventually (after some questionable media tactics), Bradford rescinded and decided that it was in his best interests to return to work.

Fletcher Cox on the other hand has received nothing but praise from every corner of the organization, but as the extensions were being handed out it was the Eagles star on the other side of the ball who was sending indirect tweets, reportedly denying monster contract offers and then missing voluntary workouts.

The media likes to focus on Sam Bradford because he’s an easy target. It’s not hard to find a reason to slate the man who has torn two ACL’s and has earned more money than Quarterbacks more deserving. If Bradford had attended workouts and approached the media with a fighting attitude, it’s not only setting himself up for unnecessary competition..but it’s rolling over and telling the organization that you’re okay with their long term plan to replace you.

But like it or not, Bradford is the best option to lead this Offense as of right now..if he wasn’t the Eagles would have let him walk into Free Agency and traded up for a Quarterback fully knowing that he could start.

The motives behind Bradford’s standoff are absolutely justifiable..his actions aren’t so easy to agree with. The Eagles Quarterback has become a polarizing figure in a matter of weeks..yet a player who is missing workouts for no justifiable reason whatsoever is still seen as a fan favorite.

Sam Bradford saw that his best option was to return to work and play through what’s going to be a season viewed through microscopes by many..waiting to point out any minuscule flaw and pull the trigger on getting him out of Philadelphia for no reason other than they don’t agree with how he approached a situation that was either going to see him lose his long-term career, or his career altogether.

There’s reasoning behind Bradford’s actions. You may not agree with it, you may hate him for them..but there’s reasoning. What reason does Fletcher Cox have for being a no-show whilst the rest of the Defensive Line are hard at work learning one of the most intricate and demanding Defensive systems in the NFL? If Cox is holding out because of money, it’s a little ironic that one of the main gripes we had with Bradford was that he already accepted his bonus.

I’m not saying Cox isn’t deserving of a monster contract..anyone who says so has evidently not watched enough tape to see how dominant he is. But Cox is going to get his payday. He’s earned it and when the Eagles are in a more financially viable position, the “man-dog” will get an contract as equally intimidating as his nickname. What I am saying however is that whilst he’s played his way to a new deal, does that make his actions okay?

On one hand you have a player who has earned every single dollar of his contract and is now holding out because he hasn’t received an extension both he and the world thinks he deserves. On the other hand you have a player trying to save his long term career and make a statement after the Eagles had traded up and risked a lot in order to draft a Quarterback with the second overall pick. So why are the two situations seen in such different lights?

Maybe it’s down to reputation..or maybe it’s because the media have always painted Bradford in such a negative light that anything he does is going to draw a crowd that points fingers despite an inability to relate to the situation. But whilst fans of the Eagles will look for reasons to shoot Sam Bradford down in flames, they’ll look to avoid the glaringly obvious reasons to shoot down one of the team’s most dominant players..

Photo credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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