CRAWFORD | Bridgewater, after 11 months of silence, talks about his injury, possible return
Teddy Bridgewater held his first news conference since suffering a gruesome knee injury last June at the Minnesota Vikings' training complex on Thursday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – First off, regardless of what he said, Teddy Bridgewater was lucky to be standing behind a microphone to end his radio silence with media at the Minnesota Vikings training facility in Mankato, Minn., on Thursday.
Eleven months after he planted his left leg and the knee gave way underneath him, some still think it would be a surprise if he ever plays again. Bridgewater suffered multiple ligament ruptures, and the disruption to blood flow made saving his knee an immediate challenge, let alone saving his football career. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmerman credited trainer Eric Sugarman’s fast action with potentially saving both.
“I just know that I was in the back of the truck, and Shugs was back there with me, and we had a conversation, and I'm pretty sure both of us were pretty nervous about that conversation,” Bridgewater told reporters Thursday. “But I'm glad everyone reacted in a timely manner and we were able to save my leg, if that's what you want to call it.”
There were a lot of questions for Bridgewater. Why haven’t you done interviews? Do you think you’ll play this season? Will you stay with the Vikings? Bridgewater didn’t have a ton of answers.
He told reporters that he didn’t do interviews because he didn’t think it would, ultimately, help him recover.
As to how he has kept up his spirits amid the speculation, and the challenging rehab process, Bridgewater pointed to his mother, Rose, who became well-known during his time in Louisville, and is a breast cancer survivor herself.
“The best thing that I had going for me was that I've had an experience with having to fight -- watching my mom battle breast cancer,” Bridgewater said. “So I come from an amazing DNA. We're fighters. You have your days where you don't see the progress. But it's a long process, and I'm in it for the long haul. I want to be the best version of Teddy that I can be. It's a roller coaster that you go on, but I've had so much support that I've had more great days than I have bad days, and I'm very appreciative of that.”
If you expected to hear anything but a positive outlook from Bridgewater, you were disappointed. He came in with a game plan, to be upbeat and positive, and he did not waver from it. He didn’t know how close he was to where he used to be, and wouldn’t speculate. When asked if doctors think he might lose some mobility when he returns, he wouldn’t answer.
But he did acknowledge that just getting back to this point has been a challenge. Forget being a quarterback, Bridgewater first had to learn all over again how to walk.
And he says through all that, he’s tried to learn.
“You never know when something you love can be taken from you, within the blink of an eye,” he said. “So, for me, it made me appreciate the small things in life. Throughout the process, whether it was learning how to walk again, putting your pants on, just the little things you have to appreciate.”
The Vikings can take Bridgewater off the PUP list at any time during training camp. If he’s still on it at the start of the regular season, he won’t be able to play or practice for the season’s first six weeks. After that, the Vikings have five weeks to decide whether to have him resume practicing. Once he starts practice, the Vikings would have three weeks to activate him or place him on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
Bridgewater wouldn’t speculate about a timetable. But he did say, “I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but I know it is going to happen.”
A half-dozen times, Bridgewater used the phrase “one day at a time.” He said he couldn’t speak to the long term. The Vikings didn’t pick up the fifth year on his contract. He said he was going to leave contract stuff to the agent.
“I eat, sleep, breathe football,” Bridgewater said. “When I'm on the sidelines having to watch those guys make big plays or have fun out there, it does something to you, but in a good way. It motivates you that, hey, I need to get back out there. . . . I can't look too far down the road. I have to live in the now. I want to take it one day at a time, and approach each day with the mindset that I want to get better, and that is the ultimate goal. . . . I've always had faith. Faith has gotten me this far and is going to continue to take me even farther.”
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