Although Teddy Bridgewater has quickly gained widespread attention, Monday was Teddy’s coming out party.
Bridgewater spent the day going through the “car wash” at ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut. Bridgewater was scurried across the ESPN campus like a prized bull, and the Cardinals star shone in the limelight. Over the course of 11 appearances we saw Teddy grow up even more and more; just like he has over the course of two seasons with the Cardinals.
The time was perfectly ripe for Bridgewater to make the obligatory trip to Bristol. Not only is it a short drive from the site of Tuesday’s American Conference Media Day taking place Tuesday. But also last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M continued giving his coaches a headache by being kicked out of a University of Texas frat party over the weekend and following up social media criticism by picking fights with a few Twitter followers.
Bridgewater’s timid but strong performances on ESPN quickly showed him as the anti-Manziel, a hardworking player from humble roots. Compared to the constant cavorting and in your face attitude that Manziel continues to give off.
It didn’t take long for ESPN to begin painting him that way either.
When asked about Manziel, Bridgewater was both cautious and respectful. “The first thing that went through my mind was that he’s having a rough summer,” said Bridgewater. “He can’t let how his summer goes dictate how his season goes. I’m a big fan of Johnny Football and I wish nothing but the best for him.”
He even went on to explain that he would no longer spend time on Twitter to focus on the coming season.
“It’s about time to focus on what I’m in college for my education and to win championships,” Bridgewater explained. “I feel social media is fun to have but when it all boils down football is my primary focus.”
The contrasts to Manziel kept coming as Teddy went through the day. On ESPN’s First Take Bridgewater even explicitly separated himself from the Texas A&M quarterback.
Bridgewater referred to Louisville coach Charlie Strong’s offense as more suited for the next level than Manziel’s spread offense. This fact has helped Bridgewater be propelled to the number one quarterback prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft, over Manziel. An idea that hasn’t been popular with many of the pundits that idolize Manziel’s achievements against the murderous Southeastern Conference, including Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith of First Take.
However, Bridgewater truly emerged as Manziel’s polar opposite in his interview on Highly Questionable with Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones.
In the course of a few hours Teddy Bridgewater went from a highly talented quarterback in a subpar conference to the Anti-Manziel. Manziel is the douchebag frat guy you hated in college and Bridgewater is the hard working out of state kid from down the hall, who never had it easy. Manziel is the spoiled rich kid who always got what he wanted, while Bridgewater is the kid who always impressed your parents when he came over.
Bridgewater spent the beginning of the day timid, but ended it fielding highly personal questions without dropping a beat. In that final interview we see a Bridgewater who has persevered against all odds to come to this point in time. He was personable and genuine. We continued to get background on Bridgewater’s relationship with his mother, this time learning he dropped out of high school at 15 for a month to take care of her. The legend of Teddy Bridgewater continues to grow.
Barring a horrendous season or injury, Bridgewater will be in the NFL in 2014. If he can live up to the hype that will continue to rain down on him, Bridgewater will begin to be mentioned next to a much more important Johnny, Unitas.
The fact is, Bridgewater has the potential to be the greatest player Louisville football has ever seen. Instead of worrying about Heismans and championships, let’s just enjoy this incredible young man who we should be enormously proud of.
Expect ESPN to play up Bridgewater’s humbleness versus Manziel’s extravagance as much as they physically can. They will continue bringing up the weakness of Louisville’s schedule and the rigors of the SEC. Just hours after meeting Bridgewater, First Take’s Skip Bayless wasn’t convinced.
Impressed by Teddy Bridgewater on today's show but I'd still take Manziel over him in the NFL draft.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) July 29, 2013
Most things never change at ESPN. Everyone knows they loving pushing a story. After all, they’ll need something to talk about with Tim Tebow riding the bench in New England.