New Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said that Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino had a brief but big influence on his college football career.
“I was able to meet Coach Pitino, and he has had a special effect on me from when I was a freshman, just telling me that at the University of Louisville I was playing for something bigger than myself, that I was playing for a brand at the University of Louisville,” Bridgewater said of Pitino, the national championship-winning father of Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino. “Those words stuck with me throughout my entire career at the University of Louisville.
“It was actually a team meeting, he came in and spoke, but the message that was sent hit home with me, and it is something that I still remember to this day.”
Bridgewater finished his three-year college career with the Cardinals with a 68.4 completion percentage, 9,817 passing yards, 72 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions.
Bridgewater was asked if he thinks he can be the No. 1 quarterback for the Vikings this season.
“Right now my mindset is just learning this playbook and just continuing to work hard,” he said. “I feel that and the coaches feel that whenever I’m ready and if I’m the best guy, that’s when I eventually play. I’ll just continue to work hard and become a better player and a better teammate.”
He is high on his own potential, saying he believes he has the work ethic to succeed.
“With great coaching I feel like the sky is the limit for me,” he said. “But it’s also going to take the hard work, dedication and just proving myself on the field. I just have to continue to work hard and trust coaching and leave it all on the line.”
Bridgewater admitted he has a lot he needs to improve before he becomes a top NFL quarterback.
“I’m a student of the game, so I think that every day is an opportunity to get better,” he said. “Whether it’s accuracy, decision-making, anticipation on throws, or just footwork and mechanics, I feel like I’m always open to improve and trying to improve each and every day.”
One strength the great quarterbacks have is reading defenses. Bridgewater believes this is something he has been adept at during his college career and is confident he can improve on that part of his game as well.
And having been timed at 4.78 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he also believes that even though he has been labeled a pocket passer, Bridgewater is confident he can be a mobile quarterback, which is a big advance in the NFL these days.
Fan of Peterson
Bridgewater described having a running back like Adrian Peterson as his teammate as “quarterback heaven.”
“If you have a guy like that in the backfield that you can hand the ball off to, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “Just being able to be a teammate with Adrian Peterson is a great feeling.”
Looking back to working out with the Vikings before the draft, he said: “I felt pretty confident in myself that I had a pretty solid workout. The ball barely hit the ground that day. [Quarterbacks] coach Scott [Turner] and [offensive coordinator Norv] Turner did a great job of coaching me up in the middle of reps. Just showing I was a coachable guy. I felt comfortable around coach Scott Turner and Norv Turner, and I had a pretty solid workout.”
About Norv Turner, Bridgewater said, “He is one of the masterminds in the game and his track record speaks volumes.”
Could Wild mimic Blackhawks?
The Chicago Tribune ran an article this week that used fan rating percentages by Scarborough Research to show that the Blackhawks had leapt the Bulls, Cubs and White Sox to become the second-most popular team in the city, trailing only the Bears.
The Blackhawks achieved a 47 percent fan rating, up from 32 percent in 2003, which meant that more than 1 million people in Chicago became Blackhawks fans. Going back to 2007 only 8 percent of Chicagoans surveyed watched, listened or attended a game. This obviously has been driven by the NHL team’s recent success, including two Stanley Cup championships.
One has to wonder if the Wild, which has become easily the most consistent and promising sports team in the Twin Cities, eventually could build up a similar goodwill with continued trips to the playoffs and competitive, exciting teams, to overtake the Twins and Timberwolves in the Twin Cities.
But like the Bears in Chicago, the Wild won’t overtake the Vikings.