Photo courtesy of Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Teddy Bridgewater’s ascension to one of the most beloved UofL quarterbacks, if not the most beloved, was the beginning of UofL’s climb out of the recesses of mediocrity where a certain coach left us to languish. His legacy is one that will live on. UofL fans will speak of Teddy in hushed tones and reverence when telling their children and grandchildren of his exploits both on and off the field. It’s also a legacy that will help the UofL football program continue the rise he started it on for the foreseeable future.
We all remember a scrawny looking kid named Teddy taking the first snap of his college career and promptly throwing an ugly interception against Murray State. An ominous beginning to his career. That pass made some people question if this was the guy to lead the UofL Football program into the future.
Then came the UK game. Teddy stepped on to the field and put the Wildcats down, leading the Cards to their first victory in 4 years. From there, he never looked back. He led UofL on one foot and one leg to a win over Rutgers on the road. Then came the Sugar Bowl, where, after Jon Bostic hammered him, he got up and led the Cards to a stunning 33-23 victory. Finally, he was picked in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and, despite a major setback, is living his dream as an NFL quarterback.
That’s just his exploits on the field. Off of it, Teddy shows that humble isn’t just an adjective, but a way of life. He returns to his hometown of Miami to feed and help the poor and downtrodden. He brightens little kids days like Vikings super fan Obadiah Gamble.
While at UofL he was a saint. You would be more likely to find him in a dorm playing football video games than out partying. Football is a tool for him, but it isn’t all that he is. All these things combined to make Teddy a living UofL legend.
Teddy was the bridge over troubled waters for UofL. If Charlie Strong was the breaking dawn, Teddy Bridgewater was the blue sky we had been waiting for. The darkness of the Kragthorpian era was ended the day he arrived on campus.
I’ve repeatedly told Shawn not to use that name in any post & as you know he just doesn’t listen.
Now look at where our football program is. We have another south Florida kid at quarterback who crossed the bridge Teddy built and is leading us to the playoff promised land. That kid, Lamar Jackson, mentioned Teddy as a huge reason he chose UofL.
Our current recruiting class as it stands today, is one of the highest, if not the highest, class the program has ever had. A large chunk of the class comes from talent rich south Florida. That’s due in large part to the efforts of Coach Dennison, Field, Smith, and all the other coaches. Yet, Teddy’ s role in this recruiting class and in the future of UofL football, cannot be overstated.
When UofL recruiting sites and blogs interview the south Florida recruits, a familiar refrain is sung by quite a few. It’s the name Teddy Bridgewater. He obviously isn’t meeting recruits, shaking hands, and telling them about the virtues of coming to Louisville. Then again, he doesn’t have to. His play on the field was witnessed by these recruits. His love of this community and how this community embraced him as a son of the city were noticed by recruits. The outpouring of love and support the fans showed Mama Rose was definitely a sight they beheld.
Teddy’s legacy here isn’t just the plays he made in a UofL uniform. His love of UofL and of the city let other south Florida kids know there was a program on the rise that they could join and create a legacy more lasting than they may achieve at other schools. It let them know that there was a place that would embrace them, a place they can call home. Teddy became the heart of the revival and renaissance of UofL Football. He may no longer play here, but he remains a large part of UofL football’s future.