CRAWFORD | No surprise: In aftermath of injury, Bridgewater lift - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | No surprise: In aftermath of injury, Bridgewater lifts up Vikings' teammates

Posted: Updated:
AP photo. AP photo.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It says a lot about Teddy Bridgewater that the Minnesota Vikings losing him for a season -- or possibly more -- to a knee injury last Wednesday was only part of the story.

By now, you’ve seen the accounts of those who were watching the field when Bridgewater’s injury happened. The emotional reactions of his teammates. Some threw their helmets and swore. Others went to him and dropped to a knee.

Some of that was because the injury was ugly. The lower half of his leg, according to some accounts, basically appeared to separate itself from the upper at the knee. It looked unnatural. Reports called it a “tibiofemural dislocation,” and suggested quick action by the training staff may have saved Bridgewater from losing the leg altogether. Jon Krawczynski, an Associated Press writer out of Minneapolis who is covering the story, said on Twitter that the recovery time “could be more than just a one-year deal.”

The Vikings quickly moved to add Sam Bradford as quarterback, in a trade with Philadelphia, amid fears that his return might well take more than just one season.

The emotional reaction, however, shows that in a short amount of time, folks in Minnesota have gotten to know the Bridgewater that we got to know in Louisville. When the injury happened, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer ended practice right then, saying he didn’t think the team was in a frame of mind to accomplish much.

“Today is a disappointing day,” Zimmer said Wednesday. “Because, No. 1, Teddy is such a great kid. Everybody loves him. . . . I love this kid, and our fans love this kid.”

I’m not writing anything I haven’t written before when I say that Bridgewater, of every athlete to come through the University of Louisville since I came back to town to cover the program in 2000, has been the most iconic, and the one who seemed to capture the most universal love and respect of any I’ve encountered, in any sport. Russ Smith is probably a close second.

But Bridgewater was different, as if he set himself apart. He didn’t go out on the town. He adopted much of the Charlie Strong mindset. He carried himself differently.

He told me once, “You try to live like your mom is watching.”

Bridgewater had seen his mother battle cancer. Everything he did was for a purpose. We know all the stories, how he reprogrammed his video games so that he could call his own plays against defenses he would face.

It was evident from his statement thanking fans and the Vikings trainers, staff and players for their care and concern, that Bridgewater will attack his rehabilitation with the same sense of purpose.

“In order to have a testimony, you have to have a test,” he said. “I come from amazing DNA, I watched my mom fight and win against breast cancer. We will, as a team, attack my rehab with the same vigor and energy. My faith is strong, my faith is unwavering and my vision is clear. My purpose will not be denied.”

One of the first people there to see Bridgewater was Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Reports are that a group of players went to the hospital with the goal of cheering Bridgewater up. Instead, it was Bridgewater smiling and urging them to go out and win.

READ and WATCH | Vikings.com coverage of reaction to teammates seeing Bridgewater

“It felt good to see Teddy smiling, to look in his eyes and see that his mind is in the right place after such a dramatic injury,” Peterson told Vikings.com.

Bridgewater later visited his teammates at the Vikings’ Winter Park training facility.

“To be in the building, to be in great spirits, that’s big,” Peterson told Vikings.com. “It was big for not only me but for the other guys to see him as well.”

Teammate Jarius Wright told Vikings.com, “Seeing him upbeat and seeing a smile on his face is big,” Wright said. “I was telling somebody earlier, he’s more than just a teammate.”

Corner Captain Munnerlyn has a locker next to Bridgewater and was among the small group of players that went to the hospital to see him. He said he was moved by Bridgewater’s statement, and believes he’ll be back. After the Vikings beat the Los Angeles Rams in an exhibition last week, Munnerlyn said to ESPN.com: “"Every time I think about going to see him in the hospital, how he still had that 'Teddy B' smile, how he was still making jokes, how he was like, 'Man, I'm going to be OK,' it put a smile on my face. I don't know if I could have taken it like he took it. He always has that something about him that draws you to him."

ESPN: Even before Bridgewater's absence, Vikings hearts grew fonder

Guard Alex Boone told ESPN.com after the same game: “He's such a good leader, and he doesn't really realize what he's doing. Everybody else is kind of wired differently, and he's got to be the real calm one. He kind of has a good time with everybody and he doesn't talk down to anybody. If something goes wrong, he takes all the blame, and he's like, 'I'll fix it,' but really, we know who it was [that was at fault]. He's so young, but he's such a good leader."

Zimmer says he’s already thinking about what role Bridgewater might play once he can be around the team on a regular basis.

Having watched his college career, seeing him limp off the bench with a sprained ankle broken wrist to lead a comeback win at Rutgers that secured a BCS bowl berth for Louisville, you half expect Bridgewater to trot out onto the field, even now. That day, however, is a long way off.

This much is clear: Folks in Minnesota are having the same Teddy Bridgewater experience that people in Louisville had. And even in the midst of a devastating injury, Bridgewater still hasn’t encountered a situation that he couldn’t handle in the right way.

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.