TUCSON, Ariz. – James Bradberry mans a position that includes a sizeable number of vocal and demonstrative players, but the Giants' sixth-year cornerback conducts himself on the field with an academic's discreetness.
"I just try to play the game the right way," Bradberry said. "I don't try to do anything before or after the whistle that will put the other guy or myself in harm's way. Of course, football is a violent sport, so I try to do it within the realm of the game, within the whistle and the lines."
That attitude earned Bradberry the Giants' nomination for the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. Now, in its eighth season, the award is presented each year to an NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.
It was created in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney, Sr.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, then with the Carolina Panthers, won the award last season. The Giants' nominee was safety Logan Ryan, who this week was nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Bradberry joined the Giants as a free agent in 2020 when he quickly established himself as one of the team's most valuable defenders. He intercepted a team-high three passes and was selected to his first Pro Bowl, the first Giants corner to receive that honor since Janoris Jenkins in 2016.
In addition, Bradberry carried himself with a soft-spoken grace, and that included respect for teammates, opponents, Giants staffers, reporters, and everyone with whom he came in contact.
"I think it's just my personality, how I was raised, how I look at sports," Bradberry said. "Sports are an outlet for me. Since I was a young kid, I went to the Boys and Girls Club, so I played sports. It's always been an outlet for me. It's always been a way of me having fun. It wasn't for me so I could go out there and trash talk and be the best player. It was just for me to specifically go out there and have fun. It just kind of evolved into me being an elite cornerback."
View photos of Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry during his time with the Giants.
Bradberry prefers to do his job quietly and attract attention only for his performance. He is not one of the numerous NFL players who engage in the art of trash talking.
"That's never been me," he said. "I just like to go out there and have fun.
"I talk more with my teammates more than I talk with the opponent. Communication is very key on defense and I pride myself in being communicative, I pride myself on my communication skills on the back end when it comes to communicating with the safety and also communicating with DBs. As far as talking and talking trash, that's not me."
Even when a receiver tries to goad him outside of his quiet one?
"Typically not," he said. "Maybe I've had a couple of occasions where a guy might try to push the issue after the play or try to push it to the edge, try to get a reaction out of you."
It seldom works.
"I just go on the next play try to beat you," Bradberry said. "That's how I get back, I try to win the next rep."
Spoken like a true sportsman.