A soft landing
The family motto, the one about things getting greater later, was tested after a poor pro day. Bridgewater, once considered a squeaky-clean prospect, ended up being scrutinized as much as anyone in the draft.
Then, before landing in Minnesota, Bridgewater had to wait four hours on draft night for his name to be called, and not before he watched the Vikings pass on him once and heard the unconfirmed reports that they tried to trade up to select Texas A&M scrambler Johnny Manziel instead.
Privately, Bridgewater was telling friends and family that he hoped to land with the Vikings, who gave off a family vibe during his interactions with them. And while he admits that being the predraft punching bag for draft analysts ticked him off, he is happy with how everything turned out.
“Of course, it motivates you for one. But I tried to put all the predraft process, what happened, behind me,” he said. “Because hey, I’m here in Minnesota now. What was said back then doesn’t affect what I do tomorrow or what I do the next day. It happened and I’m glad it’s over with. And now I can just focus on being the best Minnesota Viking that I can be.”
Before the draft, while national media buzzed about the star power Manziel could bring to a lifeless organization, at least one prominent analyst voiced concerns about Bridgewater’s ability to be the face of a franchise.
So far, though, Bridgewater has kept a smile on a face with people tugging him from every direction.
On reporting day here, the cheers for Bridgewater were as loud as for anyone, and he smiled as he signed autographs for many of the hopeful fans. The following day, he patiently flipped a football for several minutes until a photographer got the perfect shot. Hours later, he patiently answered questions — many of which he had already answered the day before — inside a sizable scrum of reporters.
While Manziel has provided countless clicks for websites such as TMZ and Deadspin — and reportedly has partied his way from a quarterback competition into the doghouse in Cleveland — the Vikings are not expecting to see Instagram photos of Bridgewater holding a bottle of champagne while floating on an inflatable swan or pretending a giant stack of dollar bills was a telephone.
Bridgewater’s kind of scene is a good dinner and a quiet night in with his playbook.
“He’s been extremely impressive in his approach, not only what he’s doing on the field, but what he does off the field,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said.
Bridgewater, who learned to be a self-starter while having to fend for himself when his mother was at work, believes he will succeed in the NFL if “he says within his character, stays true to himself.”
In high school, Bridgewater snagged passes from future University of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris as a sophomore while he waited for his turn in the huddle. At Louisville, he again patiently prepared to play, but early in his freshman year when an injury sidelined starter Will Stein, Bridgewater pounced, never surrendering the job.
Now, he is learning on lessons learned in the past — in life and in football — while battling Cassel and Christian Ponder to start. Cassel had the leg up when the Vikings arrived in Mankato, but Zimmer said he would have no reservations about starting the 21-year-old Bridgewater, who had a strong spring and impressed the coaching staff with his study habits and his deep ball, if he is the best fit for this team.
“We’re really not afraid to do anything,” Zimmer said.
All business now, Bridgewater has said all the right things about the quarterback competition and how he just wants to get better every day — you know, not making the same mistake twice.
|Miami - D. Phelps||6:05 PM|
|Washington - J. Zimmermann|
|NY Yankees - C. Whitley||6:07 PM|
|Toronto - R. Dickey|
|Philadelphia - A. Harang||6:10 PM|
|Atlanta - A. Wood|
|Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi||6:10 PM|
|Boston - C. Buchholz|
|Los Angeles - C. Kershaw||6:20 PM|
|Milwaukee - K. Lohse|
|Chicago Cubs - T. Wood||7:10 PM|
|St. Louis - C. Martinez|
|Oakland - J. Hahn||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - P. Hughes|
|Texas - R. Detwiler||7:10 PM|
|Houston - D. Keuchel|
|Arizona - J. Collmenter||7:40 PM|
|Colorado - T. Matzek|
|Seattle - F. Hernandez||9:05 PM|
|LA Angels - M. Shoemaker|
|San Diego - T. Ross||9:15 PM|
|San Francisco - M. Bumgarner|
|LA Clippers||8:30 PM|
|NY Rangers||6:30 PM|