"God has given me a great platform, and my Native American roots extend that platform even more," said Bradford, who is one-sixteenth Cherokee. "There's a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk.
"Obviously I'm Native American and I'm proud of it ... but beyond knowing I have roots with this culture, I don't know much more than that. For me to come here today, it's just a way for me to learn about the culture."
Bradford's great-great-grandmother Susie Walkingstick was a full-blooded Cherokee. His heritage was referenced often when he won the Heisman Trophy, and he spoke about educating himself more on his culture.
On Friday, he accepted Chief Chad Smith's open invitation to visit the Cherokee Nation. Bradford met with Sequoyah students, visited the tribe's museum and even tried his hand at stickball.
"That's nice of him to come to Sequoyah and learn about where his ancestors came from," Sequoyah senior Jamie Wagnon said. "You can't know about your future if you don't know about your past."
So Bradford is proud of being Native? So proud that he's willing to educate himself about Cherokee culture? And visit the Cherokee Nation--perhaps for the first time? Wow.
What would Bradford's life be like if he wasn't proud of being Native? Would there be any perceptible difference? Not that I can tell.
I guess I'm prouder of my Native associations than Bradford is--even though I'm not Native. Because I've educated myself about Indian cultures for almost 20 years. And I've visited dozens of reservations. Read Newspaper Rock or give me a call, Sam, if you need help in walking the walk.
For more on the subject, see Jocks Aren't Good Role Models and Bradford the Accidental Hero.