CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In Teddy Bridgewater’s first 2 years in the NFL, he looked like a can’t miss prospect, but his career took a terrible turn in year 3.
Bridgewater was starter for the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie and a Pro Bowler after just 2 years.
But in training camp of his 3rd year, he had a gruesome knee injury as he dislocated his knee and tore every ligament in it except one.
It would be a year and half before Bridgewater would set foot on an NFL field again to play a game.
“That experience and the things that I have gone through has helped me become a better man, a better football player, and a better teammate,” said Bridgewater. “I’m thankful that it happened because who knows if I would be the same man that I am today. I’m thankful that the good Lord gave me another opportunity.”
After the 2017 season, Bridgewater became a free agent. He signed with the New York Jets, but was later traded to the New Orleans Saints where he found his mojo again.
That knee injury certainly gave him a new perspective on football and life, but another humbling experience last season with New Orleans prepared him for this chapter in his career as full time starter for the Carolina Panthers.
Week 2 against the LA Rams, Saints starter Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury. Time for Teddy to step up.
“When my opportunity came last year against the Rams, I wasn’t prepared,” said Bridgewater. “I had my mind made up that I was behind Drew Brees. The previous year, he never missed a game. I was embarrassed because I put out some awful football.”
In that loss in relief duty, Bridgewater was 17 of 30 for just 165 yards with no TD and no INT.
But after that embarrassment, he went 5-0 as the starter until Brees came back.
During that 5 game stretch, Bridgewater completed 70% of his passes and threw for over 12 hundred yards with 9 TD and just 2 INT.
When Brees did return to action, Teddy kept preparing like Teddy and not like Brees. He did what worked for him which brings us back to Carolina.
Now he’s replacing another franchise QB and former league MVP in Cam Newton, but lesson learned. Bridgewater knows he just needs to be the best version of Teddy B.
“I truly had to find my identity again,” said Bridgewater. “I thought that if I did what Drew Brees did, that I would have Drew Brees success. I’m coming into this situation, Cam Newton was Cam Newton. I’m still Teddy Bridgewater. I can’t go out there and try to be something that I’m not. I play the game the way I play it. I carry myself the way I carry myself and I’m going to live and die by that.”