Long before he came to Louisville, he was a champion. Before his first college pass was an interception against Murray State on Sept. 1, 2011 or his last run was a final nail in Miami’s coffin on December 28th, 2013, he was a champion. Before he was Teddy 2 Gloves, Teddy Ice-water, Teddy Ballgame, TD Teddy, or whatever other name we derived for him, his first name was champion. You have heard the saying, “not all heroes wear capes”. In this case not all champions have rings to prove it.
Some programs have once in a lifetime players, others are fortunate to have them every year. For us Louisville fans, Teddy is more than that. I say “is” because I don’t want to use “was”. Using that word would indicate that his career is over. I learned a while back never doubt a man’s heart. He will prove you wrong more times than not.
Never have I seen one player transform an entire fanbase into Viking fans. I have been a Raiders fan since I could remember. Some of us are Steeler fans, others Cowboys, some of us are even Bengal and Colts fans. But on Sundays we all became Viking fans when we knew we had a chance to watch #5 suit up. He has only played two NFL seasons, and has yet to make a SuperBowl. Doesn’t matter, he is still a champion. He proved that when he almost quit the sport he loved to care for his mother who was battling breast cancer. Mama Rose was a champion in her own right, so it was only natural she raised one.
Before he stepped on the field in Lexington as freshman and helped snatch the Governors Cup back . Before he played through the pain of a broken wrist and severe ankle sprain to secure a BCS bowl. Before he made two plays in a cold, rainy Nippert Stadium that left Cincinnati players dumbfounded. Before he destroyed a top 5 Florida team after nearly being decapitated in the 1st quarter. And before he went on to dismantled the school from his home town in a bowl game, he was a champion.
Rings and trophies don’t always define a champion. Neither do belts and medals. Sometimes a champion is truly a champion by the way he carries himself in life. Teddy proved he was more than a football player before he signed with Louisville. And despite each loss, each interception, each sack, each incomplete pass…..he got up and proved us wrong. Despite having skinny knees and small hands which still sounds so ridiculous, he proved NFL scouts wrong. Blake Bortles is still struggling, Johnny Manziel is out of the NFL, Teddy had the Vikings in the playoffs in his second year. So when he suffered a catastrophic knee injury last summer we as a fanbase sulked, but we didn’t wave the white towel. Like Teddy, we were disappointed but not defeated. We became angry, not because he got injured before a predicted breakout season, but because we heard the naysayers telling us he would never play again.
Being Louisville fans, we love witnessing a great Cardinal comeback, Kevin Ware being a prime example. So you can imagine our faces when we recently saw tweets and videos of Teddy in Vikings OTA’s. Dropping back, planting and letting go a perfect spiral. Left leg wrapped in a protective brace with his replacement Sam Bradford staring in the background. To the outside world its a miracle, to us it’s Teddy doing Teddy things. Shutting doubters up and making them look silly in the process. To us Louisville fans there was never a question of if he would return, it was when would he return to embarrass all the doctors and analysts who said he wouldn’t. We need to know this so we can set DVR’s and logon to social media to boast, share and retweet all the Teddy praise we can find. Sam Bradford should be worried if he knew what was coming.
Teddy is a Miami kid who never stopped being a Miami-Northwestern Bull. He is a Louisville legend that will always be a Cardinal. He is a 1st round NFL pick with more success in one season than a top 5 pick has had in 3. He outlasted a Heisman winner and reminded the Browns organization why they remain in last place. Teddy is and always will be a champion…….and this is his story. A story with many more chapters to be written.
Get comfortable, his book is nowhere close to being finished.