From Louisville, With Love

Dear Minnesota,

Congratulations on your recent addition of Teddy Bridgewater, the quarterback so many people are already referring to as the future of your franchise. That’s probably all he is to you at this moment, and that’s cool, I get it, but as someone who has followed Teddy closely for the better part of the last four years, I feel like it’s my duty to try and convey to you why he means so much to the folks around here.

You may think this is a tad over-the-top, but you have to understand that Louisville fans have seen the way Teddy has been treated since he graduated and left the city, and it’s been pretty unsettling. People have criticized his body and his game in a manner the likes of which I’ve never seen before. They’ve called him everything from “too boring” to a “thug,” and consistently questioned his ability to “be the face of a franchise.”

Let’s focus on that for a second. What exactly constitutes being the “face of a franchise” in the NFL today? Do you have to be rude? Do you have to get caught partying too hard and follow that up with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” media session that everyone thinks is adorable? Do you have to dress like a mortician from old Western movies and take on the persona of a half-dead, half-human man who draws strength from an urn and carries defeated opponents away in a body bag? When did the NFL become the WWF (or WWE, or whatever)?

For the past three years, Teddy Bridgewater has been “the face” of Louisville football, and it worked out pretty well for all parties involved. He was kind to everyone he interacted with, he was respectful and professional with the media, he was never involved with anything resembling trouble, and he won lots and lots of football games. In an era where star football players embarrassing their programs or franchises has become more the norm than the exception, Teddy Bridgewater never did anything but make his Louisville fans, coaches and teammates overwhelmingly proud to call him one of their own.

Now I’m not sure how much you know about the history of Louisville football, but I’ll assume you’re at least somewhat aware that the Cardinals have experienced some serious success in recent years. While it would be unfair to give your new player the full credit for those accomplishments, it would be equally unjust to claim these achievements would have still taken place had Randy Shannon not been fired and Teddy Bridgewater wound up honoring his original commitment to the University of Miami.

When Bridgewater arrived on the UofL campus in 2010, the Cardinals had just wrapped up a fourth straight season in which they’d lost at least six games. When he left three years later, Louisville had just produced back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins for the first time in program history and won their third bowl game in four years.

In three seasons, Teddy led Louisville to a 30-9 overall record, two conference championships, two seasons with more than 10 wins and a pair of bowl victories over perennial powerhouses Florida and Miami. He heads to the NFL as UofL’s all-time leader in completion percentage (68.4 percent) and passing efficiency, and he owns the Cardinal record for passing touchdowns in a single season (31). Despite playing one year less than the guys ahead of him, Bridgewater also ranks third at the school in career touchdowns and third in career passing yards. The fact that he “has small knees” or that “his core doesn’t give off enough energy when he throws” (both actual complaints made over the past month) changes none of these numbers or accomplishments.

Unlike most superstars, non-superstars and pretty much every average university student, Bridgewater didn’t spend his college weekends at clubs or house parties. He spent them studying film or, if he really wanted to get crazy, playing video games with friends. While that sounds like a media-made story, there are literally dozens of teammates and UofL students who will back it up. Before he ever stepped foot on a college campus, Teddy had a very clear image of how he wanted his time at Louisville to go, and he wasn’t going to allow anything to get in the way of that image becoming a reality. That same level of focus and commitment is now making its way to Minneapolis.

The conference championships were great, the record breaking was unforgettable, and the Sugar Bowl win over Florida was the biggest in the history of Louisville football, but what I’ll always cherish most about Teddy is this: for three years, he made me feel overwhelmingly proud to be a supporter of the team he suited up for. From his on-field ability to his inspiring relationship with his mother to his perpetual willingness to visit children both in school and in hospitals, it was a privilege to follow Teddy and be able to say “that guy plays for my team.” Now that privilege is yours. Congratulations.


2 Responses to “From Louisville, With Love”

  1. Mike Olson

    Thank you for providing this article. As a longtime Viking fan and contributor to fan based website vikefans.com we have been discussing your article and all of us are extremely happy to read the kind words you had to say about Teddy and the picture they paint. Please feel free to drop by and see what Viking fans are saying about teddy. I am incredibly excited to see what this kid can do at the next level and feel he has found a great opportunity with the new staff we have assembled here.

    Thanks again!

  2. Minnesota Vikings Fans

    Teddy has been well received in Minnesota

    Since he’s been drafted by the Vikings….

    – he said how he liked the family atmosphere with the Vikings organization, which made him feel comfortable
    – Head coach Mike Zimmer has said whoever is the best quarterback coming out of training camp will start week 1 – and he hoped it would be Teddy
    – His Viking jersey sales are #4 overall in the NFL
    – He made a friend in Cordarrelle Patterson – who’ll likely be on the other end of Teddy’s passes for many years to come
    – He has impressed fans by staying in Minnesota after his press conference, attending a Wild playoff game, and continuing to work in Minnesota and have his stuff shipped to Minnesota, rather than making a trip back to get it
    – While he isn’t the face of the franchise at the moment (Adrian Peterson is), he has conducted himself very well since his arrival and is poised to eventually take that title from the league MVP after he steps into his role as the Vikings franchise quarterback. It’s been a long time since Vikings fans have had a franchise quarterback we can call our own, and pretty much every Viking fan is hoping Teddy will be that guy.

    And Teddy comes into a great situation for a rookie quarterback to thrive in:

    – The Vikings have an excellent offensive line;
    – a talented receiving corps in Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright and Jerome Simpson;
    – the best RB in the league in Adrian Peterson;
    – an experienced, successful offensive coordinator and quarterback guru Norv Turner, along with his son Scott Turner who is the QB coach, to help Teddy develop

    Norv Turner runs his version of an ‘Air Coryell’ offense, which focuses more on intermediate and deep passing than the West Coast offense Teddy ran in Louisville, along with a power running game with Adrian Peterson. Turner and his offense have turned many young QBs into stars in their early years – Troy Aikman, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers among them. I have no doubt Teddy Bridgewater will thrive in his new situation, and continue the success in Minnesota he enjoyed the past three years in Louisville.

    Perhaps one day Teddy will make it to Canton alongside that other QB from Louisville…:)

    Thank you for the letter and best wishes