Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has told coaches he doesn't want a Heisman campaign on his behalf, saying, "I'm all about this team."
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Teddy Bridgewater doesn't ask for much. So when he told University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson that he wanted to ask something of them, they listened.
What he asked for was a bit of a surprise.
Bridgewater has been billed as a Heisman Trophy candidate since the end of last season, when he closed out with a game-winning performance against Rutgers despite having a broken wrist and a sprained ankle, then followed that up with a big-time performance against Florida to lead the Cardinals to a Sugar Bowl victory.
But sitting with Strong and Watson, Bridgewater asked that the school not mount a Heisman Trophy campaign for him, but instead have any emphasis or publicity include the team as whole.
That's right. Bridgewater gave a stiff arm to the stiff arm trophy, or at least, to the surrounding hype. And Strong says he will respect his player's wishes.
"We're going to let Teddy go and play," Strong said. "Teddy doesn't want to let people down and he doesn't want all of the attention. He wants to win first and foremost."
Bridgewater has backed away from individual attention his whole career at U of L, but seemed resigned to the Heisman hoopla when he spoke with reporters before spring practice.
In April, when asked if he would mind the school mounting a Heisman publicity campaign on his behalf, Bridgewater said: "Not at all. It's something that I've been training for my whole life to be in these shoes, and at this stage, I don't see anything wrong with it."
But the more he thought about it, the more Bridgewater decided it wasn't his style, according to football sports information director Rocco Gasparro.
"He went to the coaches not wanting a Heisman-type campaign," Gasparro said. "He wanted it to be about team and if we won as a team individual recognition would come anyway. It says a lot about the character of Teddy, I think, and how much his team means to him."
Bridgewater says that the Heisman Trophy is not a priority for him, and that was behind his unusual request.
"I don't pay attention to it. I'm all about this team," Bridgewater said. "I'm all about the team having success. I'm all about my teammates becoming better players. The Heisman isn't a goal of mine. A team effort, a national championship, a BCS game, those are our goals."
Bridgewater figures to be on the receiving end of plenty of hype anyway. Mel Kiper listed him as the No. 2 overall player on his ESPN 2014 Big Board for the NFL Draft, behind Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina.
Bridgewater was listed as tied for the No. 5 choice for Heisman by the betting website Bovada.com, a 12-1 choice to win the award.
Chris Huston of heismanpundit.com included Bridgewater in his 30-player post-spring Heisman Watch List.
In some ways, Bridgewater's status as a Heisman candidate is an important part of the team's overall goals this season. The more highly he is regarded, it can be assumed, the more highly the team will be regarded.
But insofar as Heisman voting is rarely affected by Heisman campaigns anyway, the unusual gesture of an elite player asking not to be hyped nationally may well work in Bridgewater's favor itself.
U of L can still do the traditional things it would do for any All-American candidate, send out periodic emails updating statistics, and it can break Bridgewater out on his own web page with stats and news.
But when it comes to gimmicks or slogans or even a bobblehead doll of the kind done for Dave Ragone before his senior season, don't expect it.
Bridgewater doesn't ask for much. And in this case, he asked for less.