Teddy Bridgewater’s career has been nothing short of inspiring.
Having faced poverty, a dying mother, and an injury that almost ended his football career, Bridgewater is truly a survivor.
While he has faced harsh criticism from many Denver Broncos fans, many of who wanted Drew Lock to start instead, he has never stopped persevering.
Regardless of opinions, it’s impossible to root against or dislike the Miami native.
Teddy Bridgewater is a good dude. Hard not to root for. pic.twitter.com/rSbdHbjfXo
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) February 11, 2020
Finding a Way Out
Bridgewater was born in Miami, Florida. He spent his childhood living in Liberty City, considered to be Miami’s worst neighborhood.
When he was in eighth grade, his mom, Rose Murphy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. With a father and husband out of the picture, Bridgewater tried to pull away from sports to support his mother. He described his mindset during that time, saying, “I felt that I had a purpose in life, and at the time, I felt that my purpose was to protect my mom, be her superman. The one that she never had.” Bridgewater would mow lawns and wash cars to give his mother extra money.
In opposition, she continued to push him as she viewed football as his way out into a better life.
Bridgewater attended Miami Northwestern Senior High School.
He took over as the varsity starting quarterback during his sophomore year. Although they fell just short of winning a state title, it was an inspiring time as his mother finally beat her five-year battle with cancer in November.
Over the next two seasons, he threw for 5,152 passing yards and 54 touchdowns and rushed for 881 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Rivals.com labeled him a four-star recruit. He initially committed to the University of Miami in June 2010 in the summer before his senior year. However, after Miami head coach Randy Shannon was fired in November 2010, Bridgewater accepted a scholarship and switched his commitment to the University of Louisville.
Bridgewater entered his freshman year as the backup quarterback but was named the starter only four games in. He was named the Big East Rookie of the Year and a freshman All-American by numerous media outlets.
In his only non-starting action during his sophomore year, he came off the bench while injured against Rutgers; he would lead his team to a win, a Big East title, and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.
Bridgewater ended his college career with 9,817 passing yards and 72 touchdowns.
In December 2013, he graduated early after just two and a half years, with a degree in sports administration. It was a monumental day as he was the first in his family to finish college.
On January 1, 2014, Bridgewater announced that he would forgo his final year of eligibility at Louisville.
In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected him as the 32nd and final pick in the first round.
His Way Out
Bridgewater signed a four-year contract worth $6.85 million with a $3.3 million signing bonus on May 20, 2014.
He entered the season as the backup quarterback to Matt Cassel.
Bridgewater made his NFL debut on September 21, 2014, against the New Orleans Saints after Cassel was injured with a broken foot. He was named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season after Cassel was was placed on injured reserve.
Bridgewater got his first start the following week against the Atlanta Falcons. The Vikings won the game, and Bridgewater finished with 317 passing yards and scored his first NFL touchdown on a 13-yard rush.
In his second season, the Vikings’ playoffs hopes came down to their last game of the year against their rivals, the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings pulled it out with a 20-13 victory, leading to their first division title since 2009. They would lose to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round.
For his 2015 performance, Bridgewater was selected to his first Pro Bowl.
Expectations were high for Bridgewater and the Vikings going into 2016, but he suffered a torn ACL and a dislocated knee in a non-contact drill during training camp.
According to his surgeon, Dan Cooper, it wasn’t just a minor injury; Bridgewater almost lost his leg. “This surgery was an absolute gut test, a test of what you’re made of, and I’ve seen it break people down,” Cooper said. “I never saw it break Teddy down. … Most people have no idea the volume of the workload this kid had to put in. He had a toothpick of a leg he had to rebuild.” At the time, it was widely thought that Bridgewater would never play football again.
The injury knocked Bridgewater out for 19 months. Bridgewater returned to the NFL field in the Week 15 game of the 2017 season against the Cincinnati Bengals in relief of Case Keenum in the fourth quarter. The crowd gave Bridgewater a standing ovation as he walked onto the field.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 17, 2017
After the Vikings declined his fifth-year option, Bridgewater signed with the New York Jets on March 18, 2018, but was swiftly traded to the New Orleans Saints as Drew Brees’ backup right before Week 1.
In Week 2 of the 2019 season, Brees injured his right thumb. Bridgewater was named the starting quarterback for Week 3. He won all five games as the replacement and helped the Saints finish the season with a 13-3 record and an NFC South division title.
Following an impressive bout, Bridgewater signed a three-year, $63 million contract with the Carolina Panthers on March 26, 2020. While Bridgewater finished the season with career-highs in several statistics, the Panthers finished 5-11.
On April 28, 2021, Bridgewater was traded to the Denver Broncos, reuniting him with Broncos’ new general manager George Paton from their Minnesota days. After a fierce training camp battle with incumbent quarterback Lock, the Broncos announced that Bridgewater had won the starting job.
Through 14 games, Bridgewater has helped lead the Broncos to their best season since 2016. The team currently sits at 7-7 with their playoff hopes still alive.
Unfortunately, in last week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Bridgewater suffered a severe head injury banging it on the ground after being tackled. He appeared to go limp. The cart came out to pick him up, and he was immediately sent to the hospital.
It’s unclear if Bridgewater will start another game this season or if the Broncos will decide to re-sign him. Regardless, Bridgewater has already proven he can overcome any obstacle that comes his way.