Bradford has message for young athletes

New Rams quarterback Sam Bradford makes a welcome point to young athletes when he encourages them to take injuries seriously and broaden their athletic pursuits beyond a single sport.

Bradford, speaking for a piece by ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell, is teaming with Dr. James Andrews and longtime major-league pitcher John Smoltz to help change troubling trends in youth sports.

Bell: Maintaining a diverse sports schedule is one of the many tools being recommended by those involved in this campaign. Growing up in Oklahoma, Bradford was a multisport athlete throughout high school. In addition to football, he was a competitive basketball player and golfer. Bradford expects to continue playing golf as a means of balancing what he does on the gridiron. Although he no longer plays basketball competitively, he was talented enough in high school to play on the same AAU team with the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin, the top pick in last year's NBA draft.

The stakes are much higher once athletes hit the professional level. Year-round conditioning is taken for granted. I'm always a little surprised to hear NFL players talk about getting out on the basketball court. The risk for a serious ankle or knee injury would seemingly be too great, particularly playing against lesser athletes. Sounds like the Rams don't have to worry about Bradford tearing up his knee on the hardwood.