Inevitably, the XFL closed its doors, too. Sylve has moved back to Plaquemines Parish, living with his grandmother and 6-year-old son, Bradley Jr., in the unincorporated village of West Pointe à la Hache.
He lives frugally. He said he put his truncated XFL earnings, about $25,000 of what would have been about a $50,000 salary for a full season, into savings. Five times a week, he drives 75 miles, round trip, to a gym that has reopened. At home, he fishes for redfish and speckled trout and peace of mind.
Acting as his own agent, Sylve plans to try to arrange another N.F.L. audition or training camp invitation, if and when the pandemic ebbs, though the league will not hold open tryouts this year. Or he might seek out the Canadian Football League, if it plays, or yet another spring league or indoor league. At some point, football will end, and he will consider training or coaching athletes. But not yet.
“If I don’t make the big leagues, as long as I’m out there balling, it doesn’t really matter,” Sylve said. His son is entering first grade, he said, “and I don’t want him to see me running away from problems when things get thick.”
The speeches he heard in high school about weathering misfortune still resonate: Katrina destroyed us, but look at where we are now. If you can make it through all that despair, destruction and heartbreak, nothing in this world can defeat you. If you keep plugging away, good things are going to happen.
“I just want to play football and live out my dream,” Sylve said. “All I need is one team to tell me yes.”