Teddy Bridgewater & Johnny Manziel are both amazing Quarterbacks with on-field performances worthy of the highest accolades. Neither player goes by their given name of Johnathan or Theodore and instead are referred to as Johnny & Teddy respectively. But that is where the comparison stops. Bridgewater is a pocket-passer that rarely exhibits his mobility and plays with control & calm. Johnny Manziel is a dual-threat QB that can turn broken plays into big gains both with his feet & arm. Both Johnny Manziel & Teddy Bridgewater are top-flight college quarterbacks, but they couldn’t be more different.
Let’s start with the nickname. Johnny Manziel’s persona “Johnny Football” is a shortened form of the original “Johnny F&*!ing Football’. The moniker is so widespread and received that Manziel’s parents wanted to vanity plates on their vehicles: “jffmom” & “jffdad”. Johnny Manziel will forever be known as “Johnny Football”.
Teddy Bridgewater’s nickname isn’t so specific. Up until this pre-season, Bridgewater was often called, “Terry” by many announcers and highlight broadcasters. But locally, Teddy is known by many names: “The Ted, Teddy Ballgame, Teddy Two Gloves, & Touchdown Teddy”. Teddy Bridgewater’s permanent moniker has yet to be decided.
It is well-documented that Johnny Manziel comes from a Texas oil fortune generated by his great-grandfather, Bobby Joe Manziel who hit a ‘gusher’ in Gladewater, TX. Johnny Manziel grew up playing golf at Hollytree Country Club and the Manziel family has enjoyed the security & privilege that comes with that type of inheritance.
Teddy Bridgewater comes from a single-parent home in Miami’s Liberty City/Brownsville neighborhood. When Teddy’s mother, Rose Murphy, was diagnosed with breast cancer Bridgewater was concerned with the family’s bills and quit going to school to cut grass, wash cars, or do whatever other odd jobs a high school student could find. Being out of school would mean no more high school football. Ms. Murphy though, wouldn’t allow her son to give up on his future and assured her youngest son that she would keep her Transportation Supervisor job with the Miami-Dade County Public schools. Her treatment did require Teddy’s attention and he did miss time from school. During ESPN’s “A Special Bond” piece by Tom Rinaldi, Murphy said to her son, “I told him: ‘Cancer is a Giant and Giants do fall……. You can’t give up.”
It seems like Johnny Manziel is everywhere. Manziel has bodyguards & a personal assistant. He’s been spotted courtside at NBA games, at University of Texas fraternity parties, he goes on week-long ‘ragers’ in Cabo during Spring Break, he’s Scooby-Doo at Halloween, he flashes stacks of cash inside casinos. Not to mention the fact that he is the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and all of the attention that comes with the award. Johnny Manziel is about as high-profile as it gets and he does all that he can to increase that profile.
It isn’t as if a person can blame or fault Johnny Manziel for living this lifestyle. But in contrast to Teddy Bridgewater the differences in the profiles are night & day.
Teddy Bridgewater told me at Louisville’s Media Day this August that he often goes to Olive Garden (his favorite restaurant) and no one notices him. Teddy said, “Sometimes people come up to me and say, ‘Does anyone ever tell you that you look like Teddy Bridgewater?'” Also Teddy Bridgewater routinely fields questions about what he likes to do in his spare time. His response: “I like to play video games, I’m a homebody. I’m not someone that likes to go out. If I do anything I’d like to be helping someone.”
Who needs a bodyguard if you never leave the apartment? As for media requests, Teddy leaves that up to Louisville’s SIDs Rocco Gasparro and Kenny Klein. Louisville fraternities wish Teddy Bridgewater would show his face at a party. But if Teddy Bridgewater did go to a Halloween party, he’d probably be wearing a mask.
But that doesn’t mean that Teddy Bridgewater has a bland personality. This video of Bridgewater enthusiastically signing “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” in Karakoe on Louisville’s campus is evidence of who Bridgewater is with his closest friends.
In terms of profile Bridgewater & Manziel could not be further on the opposite ends of the spectrum. One lives large on the spoils of his on-field performance financed by a family fortune. The other keeps to himself & his inner circle.
Wright Thompson ESPN Piece “The Trouble With Johnny” did an excellent job of looking into psyche of Johnny Manziel. To put it simply, like many other 16-25 year old males, Johnny Manziel is a testosterone-fueled hot-head. Manziel has yet to harness his emotions and as a result has broken multiple cell phones, helicoptered a golf club in the presence of journalist Wright Thompson (when you think Manziel would be on his best behavior), and was arrested following a fight in College Station.
Charges stemming from the fight were disorderly conduct, failure to identify himself to police, and driving with a fake license. Two of the three charges were dropped, but the night in jail and the mugshot remains on the internet forever.
Also on the internet forever, will be the two tweets that Johnny Manziel sent out in anger about getting a parking ticket on Texas A&M’s campus. Campus police ticketed Manziel’s Mercedes when it was parked on the street facing the wrong direction. The first: “Bulls!*t like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be”.
Anyone who has ever been on a college campus ANYWHERE knows that parking sins are the worst sins. Police and Meter Maids circle campuses across the nation looking for someone parked over a line, in the wrong direction, without a permit, or for an expired meter.
Manziel followed up his angry tweet with an apology of sorts: “Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please walk a day in my shoes.”
The leader of Texas A&M’s football program, the Heisman Trophy winner, a guy who comes from a family worth reportedly “multiple millions of dollars”, a college kid who drives a Mercedes, sits courtside at NBA games, throws out the first pitch at Major League Baseball games, Spring Breaks in Cabo, has an incredibly bright future, and occasionally flies private is upset about a parking ticket……and in his anger asks the public for understanding, by “Walk a Day in my shoes”?
OK. Let’s see what Teddy Bridgewater would likely do walking a day in Manziel’s shoes.
First of all, I’ve seen Bridgewater frustrated. It’s visible on his face. Usually with himself, his teammates, or the fact that he needs to do an interview after practice. BUT Teddy understands his role & duties as the leader of the University of Louisville football team. He’s kind, he is patient, and respectful.
Bridgewater has never been arrested. To our knowledge he has never broken an object in anger, or thrown anything when upset in the presence of a reporter. If Bridgewater has been on the wrong side of a parking violation, speeding ticket, or any other traffic related fine the infraction was not broadcast to the public for discourse on whether or not Teddy was happy at the University of Louisville, or ungrateful.
Teddy Bridgewater does have a Twitter account (@teddyb_h2o). Twitter has yet to verify Bridgewater’s account (as it has Manziel’s) but Teddy’s tweets are encouraging, less personal, and more to facilitate outside access for the fans. Over the summer Bridgewater held “Tweet Teddy Tuesdays” (#TweetTeddyTuesday) where he spent hours responding to each question posed to him. Some questions were silly, others were serious, but Teddy answered most of the respectful questions posed to him.
Perhaps Manziel & Bridgewater’s off-field temperament directly relates to their on-field persona. Manziel is an electrifying wild man where anything can happen on a given play. Bridgewater is controlled, focused, and precise, anything that happens on the field with Teddy was based on a plan. Maybe an extreme example would be Favre vs. Peyton Manning? Whatever the comparisons, what works for Manziel & Bridgewater on & off the field probably wouldn’t work for the other.
The Week Before The College Football Season
The week leading up to the beginning of the College Football season the two Quarterbacks had vastly different off the field activities.
Johnny Manziel met with NCAA investigators who had questions regarding Manziel’s involvement 4 separate autograph brokers of which claimed Manziel participated in formal autograph signings. The brokers Drew Tieman of Miami, Kevin Freistat of KLF Sports in Miami, and two unnamed Connecticut Autograph Brokers. Reports are that Manziel signed a total of 4400 items between the 4 brokers. Reportedly Manziel signed with Tieman in his Fort Lauderdale apartment (photo right) while Manziel was in Miami for the BCS National Championship game. Johnny Football then is alleged to have signed with Freistat during the same trip to Miami in January, and another in Houston later in January. Lastly, the Connecticut brokers reportedly obtained their Manziel signatures at the Walter Camp Awards which are held in New Haven, CT.
These brokers claimed to have paid Manziel for his autographs, one quoted $7500, and in addition to the photo to the right of Johnny Manziel signing with Drew Tieman, the broker who claims the $7500 also has video evidence of the signings in a Connecticut hotel room. ESPN was offered to purchase the video, but declined and instead reported that in the video: “Manziel apparently tells the broker that if he, the broker, told anyone of this signing, Manziel would never deal with him again. Manziel also apparently said he would explain the glut of memorabilia bearing his signature by saying he had been approached by numerous fans seeking autographs.”
After their questioning of Manziel the NCAA levied a suspension during the 1st half of Texas A&M’s opening game vs. Rice. The NCAA did not have enough evidence to confirm that Manziel actually received funds from the autograph brokers but did have enough evidence that Manziel violated NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52 which forbids a player from permitting the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.
Teddy Bridgewater’s week before the football season was much different. There was not a visit from the NCAA, although the school did cancel an autograph session for fans in response to the Manziel case. Instead Bridgewater went to Locust Grove Elementary to celebrate Garrett Kurowski’s 6th birthday. Bridgewater, while also preparing for the Cards’ opening game against the Ohio Bobcats this same week, made time out of his day to visit Kurowski and sat with his class in a rocking chair and sung the (now) most popular kid in school, “Happy Birthday”.
Somehow, Bridgewater’s way just seems to be less distracting to his team. (Sarcasm).
Prior to the 2012 match-up between Cincinnati and Louisville, Bearcat Quarterback Munchie Legaux was asked about Teddy Bridgewater and stated: “I’m better. We’ll see Friday Night.” Louisville won the game in overtime 34-31, Bridgewater was 24-41 for 416 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in a driving rainstorm. Legaux finished with 13-28 for 157 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INTs.
When asked immediately in post-game who he thought was the better Quarterback, Bridgewater responded, “The W says it all” and then went on to praise his defense. Bridgewater had the platform to toot his own horn and elected to praise his teammates. That’s par for the course with Teddy Bridgewater, when he has a big game he praises his protection and his receivers. When he has a sub par performance he shoulders the blame himself. Bridgewater says that he gets his toughness from his mom, his skill from his coaches, and gives the credit of his performances to his teammates. For a guy who takes absolutely no credit at all, he sure does deserve most of it.
At Louisville 2013 Media Day Teddy Bridgewater was asked about whether college athletes should be compensated for his likeness being used in the video game EA Sports NCAA Football ’14, “I’m blessed to even be on the game. I don’t play college football for money. I am here for my education, and that is something I value the most.”
At the same Media event, Bridgewater said of the media attention he is receiving: “Everytime I tell my story, you never know who it impacts. That something my mom always tells me. I’ve just accepted my role and cherished every interview that I have done.”
During ‘Tweet Teddy Tuesdays” in July, Ian Kelly reached out to Bridgewater asking if the superstar Quarterback would come and visit his wife, Savannah, in the hospital. Savannah Kelley who was having surgery for Crohn’s disease, isn’t just an ordinary fan, she nearly gave her son the middle name “Teddy” because she was pregnant during the 2013 Sugar Bowl. Teddy visited Ian & Savannah for a half an hour and lifted the young patients spirits until she was able to leave the hospital.
Johnny Manziel has a hospital visit to his credit as well. In January Manziel visited a Connecticut hospital and took time to take a picture with a young cancer patient. We aren’t sure of the patient’s name, but Manziel tweeted the picture saying, “Great visit to the hospital today in Connecticut made a ton of new friends. Hopefully this picture passes compliance..”
The picture is of Manziel holding ‘play money’ with the young cancer patient poking fun of an Instragram picture Johnny Football released of himself fanning out a handful of cash in an Oklahoma casino a day after winning the Cotton Bowl. Manziel even tagged the photo, “casino ballin”.
The photo (featured right) set off moral & eligibility questions about the 20-year old Heisman Trophy winner. Later, Manziel tweeted in response to the speculation: “Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money….KEEP HATING!”
Even with it being legal and no one’s business whether or not Johnny Manziel gambles, or drinks, or how he celebrates his life, putting images like the ones featured in this story out into the public (Manziel has 574,000 twitter followers) probably isn’t the best idea for a guy who doesn’t seem like he enjoys having judgement passed about him. More over, the child in the Connecticut hospital probably didn’t need to be a part of Manziel’s agenda against those “Haters” as the young cancer patient probably just wanted to meet and have a picture of his own with the Heisman Trophy winner.
After serving his first half suspension against Rice, Johnny Manziel came into the game and was spectacular. Manziel was 6-8 for 94 yards and 3 TDs. Between plays, however, Manziel was less than spectacular, motioning towards Rice players a “simulated autograph gesture” and eventually drew an unsportsmanlike penalty on his final TD. Manziel also flashed his ‘money fingers’ to his teammates after Touchdowns.
The Heisman Trust describes the Trophy as: Annually recognizing the outstanding football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perserverance, and hard work.
Johnny Manziel taunting the players at Rice, a Conference USA program who hasn’t competed in a major bowl game since the 1961 Sugar Bowl, was seen as low-brow. Rice is 18-33 since 2009, meanwhile Johnny Manziel is fresh off the 2013 Cotton Bowl and a Heisman winner. Taunting an obviously inferior opponent and program seems beneath the standards of the Heisman Trophy. I wonder, what would it take for Teddy Bridgewater to do anything close to what Manziel did versus Rice?
We aren’t even going to dig into the infamous “dead battery on the cell phone” that caused Manziel to “oversleep” and be asked to leave the prestigious Manning Passing Academy. A camp that Teddy Bridgewater also attended this summer.
Two Great Quarterbacks Couldn’t Be More Different
It’s not up to me to pass judgment. It isn’t up to the general public either. But we can take a body of evidence and understand how Johnny Manziel & Teddy Bridgewater have just two things in common: 1) They are both amazing collegiate quarterbacks. 2) Neither goes by their given name.
The comparison stops there. Even covering Louisville, I know less about the person Teddy Bridgewater than the nation knows about Johnny Manziel. That’s telling. Johnny Manziel has had more advantages than most people could dream about. I’m not here to call him ungrateful, or careless. But I do imagine that if someone ever asked Johnny Manziel about whether or not some of his bad press was due to ignorance or indifference that his response would probably be : “I don’t know & I don’t care.”
With Teddy Bridgewater you have an athlete that had the deck stacked against him. He grew up without a father and went through the most important part of his high school football career with a mother battling cancer and even felt the pressure to assume some of the financial burden to support his family. When Bridgewater took down Rutgers with one arm & one leg (broken wrist, severely sprained ankle) the toughness that shaped him was personified. When I watch Johnny Manziel taunt Rice, I wonder what part of Johnny Football’s upbringing and character is personified.
The pressure of being as high-profile as both Bridgewater and Manziel as an 18-21 year old is something that no one could really prepare for. Looking at the college stereotypes and understanding that youth matures through the lessons of life, perhaps Bridgewater is wise beyond his years. Or maybe Teddy is so close to actually achieving a dream and reversing his family’s fortune forever. An opportunity he and his mother have never truly had.
Johnny Football may run circles around his opponents on the field. But off it, Teddy Bridgewater runs circles around Johnny Manziel’s class & character. By its own description, the Heisman recognizes the outstanding football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perserverance, and hard work. By that definition who else could you want in college football other than Teddy Bridgewater?
If Johnny Manziel deserves the Heisman Trophy, then the Heisman Trophy doesn’t deserve Teddy Bridgewater.