MEDART, Fla. – Before he was an All-ACC linebacker at Florida State, and before he was a Super Bowl champion with the Philadelphia Eagles, Nigel Bradham first was a prep All-American who did a little bit of everything for the Wakulla High football team.
“I was a kick returner/tight end/wide receiver/running back,” Bradham said with a laugh. “Coach (Scott) Klees used to use me everywhere. … I had the ability to do a lot.”
On Saturday afternoon, Bradham did even more for his high school, his hometown and the surrounding community when he hosted the fourth Nigel Bradham Football Camp on campus at his former high school.
The camp, which took place about 30 minutes south of Florida State’s campus in Tallahassee, was free and open to boys and girls ages 10-17.
Bradham provided camp shirts and a boxed lunch, and he had enough extra prizes and giveaways to make sure that no one left empty-handed.
“When I was coming up, there was no football camps – especially in this county,” Bradham said. “So that’s something to keep my mind on and give the kids an opportunity to grow, give them some outlook on what they can do.”
Bradham had a little help from his friends, too.
Joining him were former Florida State linebacker Nick Moody (2008-12), former Buffalo Bills teammate Kyle Moore and, perhaps more importantly, two vans full of incoming FSU football freshmen led by director of player development Trae Hackett.
— Trae Hackett (@TraeHackett) June 29, 2019
Together, the instructors led their campers through a series of football drills and activities while encouraging them all to work just as hard in school.
“It’s not just about football,” Bradham said. “There’s more to it. … To be able to motivate youth and give them that insight of putting their mind to something and just staying focused in school, in the classroom, being able to give them insight on life.”
One of the pillars of FSU’s transition from Bobby Bowden to Jimbo Fisher, Bradham starred on the Seminoles’ defense for four seasons. He racked up 306 career tackles, led the Seminoles in stops as a sophomore, junior and senior and made 39 starts at linebacker.
He also made perhaps the most famous – and physical – hit in the program’s recent history.
Bradham went on to become a fourth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills and spent four years there before signing with Philadelphia and helping lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship.
A little more than a month after beating the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, the Eagles rewarded Bradham with a five-year, $40-million deal.
“He wanted to be where he’s at,” said Klees, Bradham’s high school coach. “And that’s why he is.”
All while not forgetting where he came from.
Signs of Bradham’s influence are literally all over his hometown of Crawfordville.
Drivers arriving from Tallahassee are greeted with a road sign that reads, “Home of Super Bowl Champion Nigel Bradham.”
Maybe a half-mile down the road, a local restaurant has spelled out, “Team Bradham” on its marquee.
And inside the Wakulla High football stadium, a sign under the scoreboard details Bradham’s achievements at both FSU and in the NFL.
“He always gives back,” Klees said. “He donates all the time to the high school. …
“I can’t tell you how proud we are to have someone with his character be a part of us.”
Which is one of the reasons why Moody, Bradham’s cohort on the FSU defense for four years, made the trek up from his home in South Florida.
Moody said that he, Bradham and several of their other teammates from their era have all stayed in touch over the years, and that each lends a hand to the other’s philanthropic efforts when needed.
“We’re still in touch,” said Moody, noting that he often camps with former FSU stars Xavier Rhodes and Devonta Freeman, and that he plans to visit Terrence Brooks while in the Tallahassee area this weekend.
“It’s amazing, man,” Bradham said. “When we were there (at FSU), we all built a bond and a brotherhood. And we’re still screaming, ‘Doak Boys for life.’
“No matter what, that’s forever going to be Doak Campbell Stadium, and we put a lot of hard work on that field. And it brought us together, throughout the whole time we were there.”
And, based on what he saw on Saturday afternoon, Bradham is impressed with the latest crop of Seminoles.
“Being able to have those guys come down (was great), because that’s what the kids are seeing right now,” he said. “Obviously, I’m in the NFL, but they’re seeing them (at FSU) right now. And it’s so close to home. So, they get to see guys that they’re seeing and watching every Saturday.
“And you get that knowledge from them. You see the energy that they come out with. They’re so enthusiastic and coach these kids and show them the ropes.”