I wrote a version of this letter almost one year ago, thinking that you’d leave Stanford for the NFL. Instead, you proved myself and many others wrong. You returned, hoping to earn your degree and lead your team to a championship.
Obviously, only one of your wishes will come true. To be frank, Stanford’s season was underwhelming. Too many of us overlooked Utah, doubted the Washington schools, and scoffed at Notre Dame. At the end of the day though, 8-4 is not bad. Heck, the team won the California crown and clinched a bowl game again. I’d consider that a successful season.
Your junior year was spectacular, and it was even more amazing considering the fact that just about no one saw it coming. If I had bet you’d average almost 8.8 yards per carry, I’d be rich. If I had bet you’d finish second in the Heisman race, I’d make a profession out of sports gambling. As a junior, you were basically unstoppable, despite that nagging ankle injury.
Over the past two years, that ankle became a constant worry for Stanford fans. When you hobbled off the field time and time again, we’d think that you were finally done, yet you’d trot back on the field the next drive. In a period where players have quit midway through the season to prepare for the draft, I kept wondering if you would do the same and hang up your Stanford jersey for good. I’m beyond grateful you decided otherwise; you’re no quitter.
If more Stanford athletes would “be like Bryce,” the Cardinal would be extremely fortunate. Why? Because you’re more than a football player. You care about academics, but more importantly, you care about others.
You and I had a run in once before. It was after the Stanford vs Notre Dame game last season, and as a senior in high school, I was extremely nervous for my first postgame press conference. I was struggling to ask my question in a crowd of reporters, but you recognized it and made sure I had an opportunity to speak. I was a total stranger to you, yet you still made the time and made my small request a priority.
I hope in the NFL you continue to be who you are. I hope that you don’t give up on your dream to become a pediatrician. I hope that you continue to give back. But honestly, I don’t need “to hope;” I know you’ll do all those things.
So Bryce, I’m thankful that you picked Stanford years ago. I’m thankful that you decided to stay an extra season, and I’m thankful that you were you.
No other Cardinal can wear #20 without us fans remembering all the times you broke away from the pack at lightning speed, but certainly, no one will see #20 without remembering you as a person.