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Sam Bradford was talked out of quitting football by his former coach

The oft-injured quarterback once thought about retiring early.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback trade between the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams this offseason may not have ever happened if it wasn't for a man by the name of Josh Heupel. Heupel, who is currently an assistant college football coach for the Utah State Aggies, used to be Sam Bradford's quarterback coach at Oklahoma. Per Mike Sielski, he's the one responsible for talking Bradford out of quitting football after the NFL quarterback tore his second straight ACL last summer.

"When a player goes through a big letdown, it's natural to be down," said Heupel. "I just tried to reach out to him and say, 'Hey, I still see this in you as a person and a player. I think the best is yet to come for you. You've got to get yourself healthy and get yourself back on the field and get yourself in the right environment with the right people and the right supporting cast around you, and there's no doubt in my mind you'll achieve the things you're capable of achieving and want to achieve. Nothing changed for him from a guy who was the number-one overall draft pick as far as who or what he is as a person and a competitor, and ultimately that's why there's no doubt in my mind he's going to reach the pinnacle of success."

Bradford admitted late last season that he had his doubts about returning to the game.

"It was really tough that first week after the injury. There was part of me for a couple of days that [thought] I was done with football. I didn’t want to come back. I didn’t want to play. I was tired of rehabbing. I was just tired of the process. But then when you step back and you’re away from the game for a while, and then you come back and you’re in the building, and you’re around your teammates -- I quickly realized that I wasn’t done, and that I wanted to come back, and that I feel like I’ve still got a lot to prove. So even though those feelings were there initially, it wasn’t long before the hunger came back and I knew that I wanted to play football again."

The Eagles took a big risk by acquiring Bradford this season from the Rams for a 2016 second round draft pick along with Nick Foles. It's obviously not very encouraging to hear that he had to be talked out of quitting. On the other hand, if he truly was a quitter, he would have just left the game by now instead of going through another long process of rehab just to risk yet another injury.

In his first and only media availability in Philadelphia, Bradford said he is still recovering but he expects to be ready to return by Eagles training camp. Speculation still exists that that the Eagles could trade Bradford but until that happens he projects to be the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2015.

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