Disclaimer: I wrote this story primarily because Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t received the attention he deserved. So many have mourned the loss of Charlie Strong and I get that (I really get that). However, that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating the wonderful career of Teddy Bridgewater. A kid that truly embodied the spirit of Louisville First, Cardinals Forever. I hope you enjoy.

Through the course of Louisville Football there have been many tough decisions to be made.

Things like making a decision to hire Charlie Strong after Steve Kragthrope.  Decisions like going for it on 4th and goal when you don’t necessarily need a touchdown. Or now, a decision to be made to hire a new Head Coach following Charlie Strong

Many decisions, many long deliberations made.

But now, the Louisville Football team and those that surround it couldn’t be faced with an easier decision. Teddy Bridgewater has decided to forgo his Senior season and enter the NFL Draft, now Louisville must retire the #5 jersey adorned by him and they need to do it immediately.

Remove the accolades. Forget the stats that have Bridgewater placed at the top of nearly every single passing record in the Louisville record books and you’d still be left with an easy decision. It could be all the other things. Like the will to win. The will to play with a broken wrist and injured leg and not only win the game that brings your school to it’s third ever BCS game, but lead them in doing so. The clutch factor. Seemingly an ability to always elevate your play in the biggest of moments and lead your school to it’s first back-to-back bowl wins in it’s history.

Couple that with  smarts. Not only did Bridgewater complete High School early, he also graduated with a College degree in under 3 and a half years.

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Teddy Bridgewater is anything and everything you want an Ambassador of your program to be.

The thing that is the most strikingly about Teddy Bridgewater is the very thing that oozes from his soul: Perseverance & Humility.

Coming into the 2013 football season, Teddy Bridgewater never wanted a Heisman campaign. Through some skillful play, at times during the 2013 season he got one anyway. He never needed anybody to talk highly of him. He only needed others to see his play and let that speak for his self. He never needed individual accolades, he only strived for team wins.

Louisville Basketball Coach Rick Pitino said, “Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and over indulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success. Humility allows that true meaning of sharing credit toward others, preserving the inner dignity that we all need.”

Teddy Bridgewater is a living testament to this. The praise came. Sometimes in came in droves. Yet never, not once did he let pride or self-indulgence get in the way of success.

His perseverance has been displayed many times in his life. It started early in his adolescent years in the rough streets of Liberty City, Miami. You know the story of his mother, Rose getting breast Cancer. You may not know the story of Teddy Bridgewater quitting his football team to earn money for his family and help his mother. You may not know the story of his mother forcing Teddy back to school and back to football. You haven’t heard these things that much because you haven’t heard Teddy Bridgewater say it for fear that he’d come off as making an excuse.

“I was the last child in the household, so I basically just wanted to give up everything and take care of her because she couldn’t work, and I was asking questions like, ‘How would the bills get paid?'” Bridgewater recalled. “It was hard because in a situation like that, you want someone else to be around to help provide for her.”

That was one early instance that Teddy Bridgewater would be special. One early instance that Teddy Bridgewater would be strong. One early instance that Teddy Bridgewater would preserve regardless of what was thrown his way. We would see this at many points during his career at Louisville.

One that comes instantly to mind is a year ago in New Jersey. You couldn’t write better stories than what I and TheCrunchZone Co-Founder Mark Blankenbaker witnessed with our own eyes. In a time of need and I time of serious obstacles, Louisville needed a hero to save the day. That hero came in the form of Teddy Bridgewater. With a broken wrist, a bummed ankle to their star player; it appeared Louisville would see a promising season end in failure. Teddy Bridgewater would have none of it.

After seeing Rutgers take a 14-3 lead, Bridgewater had seen enough of it. He told former Louisville Head Coach Charlie Strong ‘I’m ready to go’ and followed that up throwing two touchdowns to lead Louisville to a 20-17 win a BCS appearance against Florida. After the game Teddy Bridgewater was quoted saying the following:

“I was just ready. I had that feeling deep down inside. To glory be to God. I just gotta think my fellow teammates, the offensive line whose done a great job protecting me all season and everyone else.”

It was fitting quote for Bridgewater. In a moment in which he had single handily completed one of the most heroic acts in Louisville Football, in a moment where none would have blamed him for taking some self-glory – he gave it all to others. But after a while you come to expect  that’s what you get with Teddy Bridgewater. His humility makes him everything he is and Bridgewater wouldn’t have it any other way

It’s eye opening to talk about the stats. The fact that Bridgewater remains in the Top 5 of every single season Louisville passing record helps put things in perspective of the talent he is. But you can remove all that and still have Teddy Bridgewater: The person; not the football player. That by itself is worthy of his jersey never being worn again.

 

 

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Chris Hatfield

Residing in Louisville, KY (via Bardstown, KY). I write things about Louisville Sports. Sometimes you'll like them. Follow me @_ChrisHatfield Email me at chatfield60@gmail.com

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