'Round these parts in the South Plains, they call Tony Bradford Jr. the Mayor. Like most monikers, it started as a joke.
This time last year, Bradford believed his time at Texas Tech was ending after four good years as a staple on the defensive line. Joey McGuire had other plans. The then-first-year head coach kickstarted a re-election campaign. The Red Raiders needed their team mayor back for one last season in the red and black. So Bradford took his extra year of eligibility and assumed his title. Lubbock's other mayor, Tray Payne, was okay with sharing.
Ahead of his final game at Jones AT&T Stadium Saturday afternoon against UCF, the football mayor announced a plan to give back to the community that's embraced him over the past five years. In partnership with the nonprofit 100 Black Men of West Texas and United Supermarkets, Tony's Turkey Giveaway will occur Monday, Nov. 20, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. outside Community Baptist Church.
Because some titles carry added responsibility with them.
"I've got to do my part as the mayor," Bradford said.
McGuire's re-election ribbing helped Bradford complete unfinished business off the football field. This turkey drive had been an unfulfilled dream of Bradford's for years because it was financially infeasible. But through Texas Tech's nonprofit NIL collective, The Matador Club, and personal savings, Bradford could see this project through in his final year in Lubbock. He'll buy 100 turkeys, and 100 Black Men of West Texas is partnering with United Supermarkets to supply another 100.
“Every holiday season, I've always just remembered those who contributed to my life and helped me and my family out as we were going through tough times," Bradford said. "I've always told myself that, 'If I get a chance to where I'm in a position where I'm blessed enough to help others, I'm going to always do that.'"
Before becoming one of Tech's most popular players, Bradford grew up in Houston as the oldest of ten siblings with divorced parents. While his mom and dad worked hard to support the family, the eldest child grew up the fastest so he could be a mature example for all his brothers and sisters.
"I just wanted to show them no matter what the situation may be, you can always find some good out of something and make the best of what you got," Bradford said.
Houston laid his foundation, but he'll forever tell people he's from Lubbock, too. His legacy at Texas Tech extends past football and into community service. The turkey drive is just the final act.
Whenever his playing days wind down, Bradford intends to pursue a career in law enforcement. He'll start as a patrolman, then work his way up the ranks until he's hopefully the police chief of a major city. Texas Tech helped prepare him for his criminal justice ambitions and NFL ones. He's worked as a security guard for the Texas Tech police department during offseasons since 2020. In February, he even left his mayor's office at the Texas Tech football facility to venture to the mayor's office at City Hall for a first responders luncheon.
So if you're by Community Baptist Church next Monday, stop by to see Tony Bradford Jr. - the football player, the mayor, the security guard, the Red Raider.
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