Albany, NY—August 8th
For quarterback Rhett Bomar, this money amount was initially harmless. It just provided some financial stability.
Eventually, it wound up being the difference between a four-year starting gig at national power Oklahoma, and a two-year stint in Huntsville, Texas, the execution capital of America.
Two completely different paths, decided by some unwarranted checks and cash Bomar was handed.
To this day, Bomar wishes he never took the money from Big Red Sports/Imports, a Norman, Oklahoma car dealership. He wasn't desperate for it, but getting paid a substantial amount of cash was hard to turn down at the time.
Who knows what would have happened if Bomar stayed at Oklahoma. Many believe the 24-year-old quarterback would have been a first-round draft pick.
But things seem to have worked out for Bomar. The greatful quarterback, who is Sam Houston State's all-time leader in passing yards despite just 19 starts, was selected in the fifth round by the Giants in April's NFL Draft.
Bomar was ecstatic to accomplish his dream. It took a lot of stress, hardships, and extra work to rebound from the Oklahoma situation; all these factors made the draft selection that much sweeter.
"Because of all the stuff I'd been through, people doubting me, a whole state hating me for a while...to finally get to the point I wanted to be at since I was a little kid, it was a great feeling," Bomar said after practice Thursday.
Everyone - including Bomar - knows that the quarterback, once on top of the world, made a huge mistake.
When Bomar arrived at Norman as a freshman in '04, a Oklahoma sports administrator directed him to Big Red for a job. At the time, Big Red was part of the Sooner Schooner Car Program, which provided automobiles to coaches and members of the Oklahoma athletic department.
In '05, Bomar became Oklahoma's starting quarterback two games into the season. When Bomar started blooming into a freshman standout, the manager of Big Red told Bomar that he didn't have to worry about reporting to work.
From that point on, Bomar was getting paid for 40 hours of work each week, but—according to ESPN's Joe Schad—was only reporting to work for five hours.
The information eventually made its way to head coach Bob Stoops, who immediately dismissed Bomar.
"I wish that stuff didn't happen," Bomar said. "I wish I could have stayed there."
Just like that, Bomar was forced to depart Oklahoma, where it seemed he could have developed into the next great Sooner quarterback.
"It was an unfortunate situation, but I kind just had to pick it up, grab my stuff, and move on," he said.
The search, along with reflection of what went down at OU, took its toll on Bomar.
"I was driving all over the place, looking at schools and just trying to figure out where to go," Bomar said. "It was a hectic time."
Within two weeks, Bomar decided on Sam Houston State in Huntsville, widely recognized as the home of Texas' execution chamber.
It was as if Bomar passed through a portal; everything was much smaller in scale at SHSU. The enrollment, stadium, national exposure, and emphasis on football seemed minuscule compared to Oklahoma, a place where Bomar was treated like a celebrity.
It was exactly what Bomar needed.
"Everybody likes to play at the big-time school and have all the attention," he said. "That's all great, but the people at Sam Houston were great to me and helped me out a lot. There wasn't as much attention down there, but there was good football and good people there."
Now almost 2,000 miles removed Huntsville, Bomar is adjusting to the NFL life. Compared to college, the game is faster, the offense is more complex, and the physical and mental demand is a lot higher.
But a motivated Bomar, who is battling with Andre Woodson for the third quarterback spot, is spending all hours of every day practicing and studying the playbook.
"I'm looking at (the playbook) every night. I'm just trying to learn as much as possible," Bomar said. "It's really busy. There's a lot of studying. It's kind of a whirlwind, everything is real fast."
Despite a number of intracacies Bomar must deal with as part of his NFL initiation, he does have a $106.9 million man helping him out when needed.
"I have the utmost respect for (Eli Manning), so I take whatever he tells me and do it," Bomar said. "It to emulate him and do what he does. I just try to follow his lead."
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