A quintessential case of what could have been, the Minnesota Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater have mutual feelings toward each other even after the team’s 2014 first-round quarterback left in 2018.
Bridgewater noticed a showing of support from fans still wearing his jersey despite his threads not being available in nearly four years during the Vikings’ joint practices with Bridgewater’s Denver Broncos this week.
On Wednesday, Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson took an unofficial count of Bridgewater jerseys and tallied 11 purple and gold Bridgewater jerseys compared to 16 fans wearing Kirk Cousins jerseys.
Despite Bridgewater playing just two full seasons in Minnesota before his horrific knee injury before the start of the 2016 season, his popularity has persevered.
“It was pretty cool,” Bridgewater said of the support, per Tomasson. “That kind of got me, not really emotional, but it was cool to see. I saw a couple small children wearing No. 5 jerseys.
“I really think it’s just the people in Minnesota,’’ Bridgewater added. “They welcomed me, my family. They welcomed a boy who became a man and they were so genuine here, and I appreciate that to this day. … I just appreciate the support that I still get from them.”
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After being drafted with the No. 32 overall pick in 2014, Bridgewater helped reinvigorate a Vikings franchise that struggled in the post-Brett Favre era.
Bridgewater earned his first and only Pro Bowl nod in his second year after helping Minnesota claim the NFC North title. Expectations were mounting approaching his third season before he tore his ACL and dislocated his knee in training camp. Had medical experts not arrived promptly, Bridgewater could have lost his leg.
Bridgewater spent the next two years recovering from the injury and made his debut on the turf at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2017 before Minnesota decided not to re-sign him in the 2018 offseason. He eventually made his way to the New York Jets before becoming a backup for the New Orleans Saints and eventually starting for the Carolina Panthers last year.
“I found myself thinking more about it lately than I have in the past just about the day I was injured,” Bridgewater said, per Tomasson. “I use it as motivation. Before, I used to brush it off… Now, it’s like, ‘Man, here I am where I could have been counted out and I almost had to get my leg amputated.’ … When I wake up in the morning, I’m blessed. I get an opportunity to put my feet on the ground and go out here and play football.”
Bridgewater, 28, is now in competition for the starting role as the Broncos signal-caller and is slated as the backup for Saturday’s preseason opener against the Vikings.
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Bridgewater Burned by Adam Thielen’s Son
After Thursday’s final training camp practice at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minn., Bridgewater stayed after to reconnect with old friends.
Adam Thielen and Bridgewater stayed on the field 30 minutes after practice, per VikesInsider.
A candid moment from their post-practice visit was Thielen’s son beating Bridgewater on a run to the end zone.