HERNDON, Va. -- Jack Bradford has spent the past eight months waiting for the news he's going to get today.
"I'm kind of relieved the day is finally coming," the linebacker from the University of Maryland who lives in Columbia, Md., said yesterday as he waited for the Washington Redskins to make their first major cut.
The Redskins must make 17 roster moves today, when they slice their active roster from 77 to 60 players. They will cut it again to the final limit of 47 players Monday.
"It [the waiting] started after the last game at Maryland in the Independence Bowl. [That's when I] started to get ready for tomorrow and next week. I've been waiting since Dec. 15 to find out if they believe I'm good enough to make the team," he said.
"[There's] just the anticipation, the anxiety of wanting this moment to get here. If I make it or not, I'm still excited about the cut coming up. Then I'll know basically where my career is going to be," he said.
He's gotten a lot of support from relatives and friends.
"My church [Full Gospel Baptist] has been praying for me. I've been praying for myself," he said. "I'm just going to go out and have a good practice today and come in tomorrow. I'll probably be a little nervous when I'm walking to my locker, seeing if it's cleaned out. There's nothing I can do about it."
Bradford knows the odds are against him, but he takes satisfaction in the fact that he survived training camp even though he wasn't drafted.
"I made it farther than a lot of people thought I would," he said. "I hope to make it further. I'm just praying and hoping for the best. It'd be nice to have the opportunity to prove people wrong, but if not, I'm going to be successful in whatever I do in life."
Bradford, 23, who played at Wilde Lake High School before going to Maryland, said that football has helped him even if pro football isn't in his future.
"I've learned discipline through football," he said. "I've played football for a long time, and anyone who plays football and has a good education can be successful in life because they've learned discipline. You have to be disciplined to play football and get to this level."
The major disappointment of his career is that he didn't get to play on a national championship team at Maryland. He said that when Bobby Ross recruited him in 1986, he thought he'd get that chance and he found it ironic that Ross did it in his senior year. The only problem was Ross did it at Georgia Tech.
"I believe if he had stayed at Maryland, that would have been us a few years earlier," he said.
If Bradford is cut and doesn't get picked up by another team, he won't pursue the World League of American Football. He'll go into his father's small construction business.
His father, Gene, is a minister who wants to phase himself out of the construction business so he can spend more time on his ministry. His mother, Carolyn, works at a Baltimore bank.
His oldest brother, Monroe, 27, already is working in the family's construction business.
Bradford has two other brothers, Gene, 24, who's managing an orchestra in Honolulu, and George, 16, who's going out for football at Wilde Lake but whose best sport is golf. He also has a sister, Jamie, 14.
Bradford knows he's one of the players on the bubble. The team has nine linebackers, and five of them (Wilber Marshall, Andre Collins, Monte Coleman, Kurt Gouveia and Ravin Caldwell) are veterans who figure to return. A sixth is Plan B free agent Matt Millen, who's starting at middle linebacker.
That leaves two free agents, Bradford and Ted Rogers, and Jon Leverenz, who spent last year on the injured reserve list, fighting for the seventh linebacker spot -- if the Redskins keep seven.
Even the coaches dislike having to make the decisions.
"It's a tough time for everybody," coach Joe Gibbs said. "Nobody likes it."
NOTES: Gibbs indicated he won't name his backup QB until next week. He still likes Cary Conklin's potential so much that he finds it difficult to name Stan Humphries as his backup despite Conklin's 5-for-16 showing against the Cleveland Browns Friday night. "I'm working my way through it. It's not something that's easy. It's a tough thing to decide," Gibbs said. Humphries, who declined to comment on his status, indicated he wants to meet with Gibbs to find out where he stands. If he's not named the backup, he probably doesn't have a future with the Redskins. . . . The Redskins announced the selection of Walter E. Lynch & Co. as the general contractor for the new Redskin Park facility in Ashburn, Va., on a 161-acre site. At 65,000 square feet, it'll be 3 times the size of the current Redskin Park and will include 4 football fields.