EDEN PRAIRIE, MN (WAVE) - Heading down the road near his house in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Teddy Bridgewater had never seen anything like it. A big head. A huge rack.
"It's a moose," said the 22-year-old who grew up in Miami. The former Louisville Cardinal and youngest Minnesota Viking is still learning his new habitat. You're as likely to see a moose in Louisville as the Twin Cities. They are found hundreds of miles north, much closer to Canada. But Bridgewater was sticking to his story.
"I rode up on it to take a picture and it just ran from me so I don't have any proof," Bridgewater said. "No one's going to believe me, but I saw a moose."
No doubt it was a deer, about a quarter the size of a moose.
Bridgewater has shown he's no deer in the headlights while adjusting to the NFL. He's led the Vikings on a couple of last-minute, game-winning drives. Bridgewater told WAVE 3 News recently that that's when he's at his best.
"I would love to play the entire game, the way I play a game down the stretch or towards the end of the game," he said.
His coach, Mike Zimmer, said Teddy has a deep desire "to be good and not just to be a good football player but to be a good person." Zimmer added Bridgewater is humble and polite with great family values that come from a mom who tries to make it to all the games in Minneapolis.
Bridgewater said he likely wouldn't be playing for the Vikings if he hadn't made a major mistake in Louisville. On his pro-day workout at the University of Louisville, Teddy decided not to wear his gloves. The ball floated and fluttered, missing his targets too many times. A player once projected to go in the top five picks suddenly became less valuable.
But the Vikings believed the game tape. In a private workout for them, Bridgewater put the gloves back on and was almost perfect on all of his dozens of throws. The Vikings gobbled him up late in the first round.
"Luckily I ended up here in the place I wanted to be in, and maybe because I didn't wear the gloves," he said. "So I'm glad that I didn't. I don't regret not wearing them. And I'm just happy to be a Viking."
Teddy knew the Vikings didn't have a star quarterback. And the older journeyman Matt Cassell got hurt early in the season. The job belonged o Bridgewater even sooner than he could have expected. Unlike the animal he saw running through the ditch, Bridgewater hasn't had trouble identifying open receivers. His coach believes he will have a long, successful career. The first year is always a learning curve, especially on a team without many stars.
Bridgewater said his career at UofL prepared him well for the detailed and long days of NFL practices. And he stays in touch with many current Cards players almost daily with text messages. He calls it a brotherhood. He might tell them he saw a moose. Definitely, he's told them about the weather. The Florida kid explained that he's "still in the process of buying all the proper gear for this harsh winter."
But Bridgewater is cool in his own right. Ice in his veins that the Vikings believe will help him turn the team into a winner. Meanwhile, he'll keep studying the opponents' defenses, and the habitat of his new home in the north.