Las Cruces Bulletin
He tested me from the start.
The first time I ever met Jim Bradley – sometime in mid October of 1996 – I found him in the north end zone of Aggie Memorial Stadium. (This was before the Field of Dreams when all Las Cruces prep home games were played at New Mexico State University.)
Bradley was the head football coach at Mayfield High School and his Trojans had just dispatched of an opponent, I can’t remember which one, but it was a good night for the boys in green.
I shook hands with the legendary coach and introduced myself as the new sports writer in town.
“You guys are computer geniuses down there,” he said with his growly voice.
You see, I had called him earlier in the week to ask questions for a game preview I wrote. But somehow the story went missing on my day off and someone else had to rewrite the story, which meant giving Bradley another call.
“Maybe you can come down and give us a lesson,” I replied.
Bradley sort of cocked his head and gave me a look as he tried to decide if I was being a smart aleck or not. (In full disclosure, I was.) Whatever decision he made about me in his mind at that moment, he started to talk football and coach Bradley and I went on to talk football for the next eight years until I moved on to cover business stories.
He would laugh, he would joke, he would scold, but he always found time to talk to me, even if he was busy, which he usually was.
Coach Bradley, who passed away Wednesday, Aug. 12, knew more about coaching and athletics than most. He replicated success at different stops on his career ladder.
The NFL may have had Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells and still has Bill Bilichick, all of whom have produced coaching disciples throughout the land, but Bradley replicated his own success in New Mexico.
Las Cruces and Oñate High School football coaches Jim Miller and Brent Jaquess, respectively, both played for Bradley when he was the head coach at Roswell High.
His sons, Michael at Mayfield and Gary at Farmington, have both won state titles of their own.
Coach Bradley never stopped looking for an edge.
I remember visiting him in his office at Mayfield High as the Trojans prepared to play Highland High and star quarterback Bobby Newcombe, who had already agreed to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers the next year.
Bradley kept referring to the opposing player as “Bobby Nebraska.”
I’m sure he used the same nickname in the locker room that week. His Trojans knew Newcombe was headed to the tradition-rich, national-TV-beloved Cornhuskers and, instead of being intimidated by that fact, were even more motivated to defeat Highlands.
Mayfield did win and sent “Bobby Nebraska” home early from the postseason.
The Trojans then went on to win the state championship.
RIP Coach Bradley.
Brook Stockberger may be reached at 680-1977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.