Is Sam Bradford the 'face of the franchise'?

The St. Louis Rams gave Sam Bradford the richest rookie deal in NFL history. He should embrace eveything that goes with it.

This might come as a surprise to St. Louis Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, but $78 million is supposed to buy more than just wins.

That's what all that money is about, of course, but Bradford is also an investment for a franchise that has been the butt of jokes for too many seasons. The Rams intend to turn around their horrendous slide, and if they do, it will be Bradford who helps them.

So it's curious to see that Bradford disdains being labeled "the face of the franchise" because that's exactly what he is.

"I think that's ridiculous," he told Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I don't think one person is any face of the franchise. It takes 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense and however many guys you have playing special teams to win a football game. That's how I look at it.

"And I wish more people would look at it like that."

Won't happen. Peyton Manning is the face of the Indianapolis Colts. Mark Sanchez is the face of the New York Jets. Drew Brees is the face of the New Orleans Saints.

And like it or not, Bradford represents everything the Rams see in their future. They expect him to sell seats, sell jerseys and, most of all, sell hope. That goes along with winning games. Remember, this is a franchise that hasn't won more than three games in any season since 2006. Hope is all it has.

When they gave Bradford the richest rookie contract in NFL history, the Rams expected bang for their buck. At the same time, they're also doing all they can to allow him to focus on making a smooth transition to the pro game. In many ways, they're protecting him from overload.

"We want him to become acclimated to the life of being an NFL player, focus on being in training camp, focus on being a better player, a better teammate and really have all of his attention be on the field," Kevin Demoff, the Rams' VP of football operations, said. "I think his name, the buzz, the recognition, it's all organic; we don't need to do anything to help it. And we don't want to take advantage of him."

If being called the face of the franchise is part of all that, shouldn't Bradford embrace it, not try to avoid it?

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