Bridgewater Motivated By Slide

Posted May 9, 2014

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Johnny Manziel wasn't the only quarterback to tumble down the first round of the NFL draft.

While all eyes on Johnny Football's fall, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater - once billed as a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick - was quietly plummeting. The Minnesota Vikings swooped in at the last minute and chose Bridgewater with the final pick in the first round, and Bridgewater promised not to let any other team forget it.

''You can bet that,'' Bridgewater said Friday. ''I talked with coach (Mike) Zimmer a while back when I came here and he told me he loves guys that play with a chip on their shoulder. So after having that conversation with him and just experiencing last night, I'm glad to be a Viking. But you can best believe I'll play with a chip on my shoulder.''

After getting outbid by Cleveland for the 22nd overall pick, the Vikings lost out on a chance to grab Manziel. They then set their sights on Bridgewater, swinging a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to get back into the first round after taking UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr ninth overall.

Bridgewater said he maintained a positive attitude over the last few months while he listened to his game get taken apart by draft analysts and scouts, especially after a poor showing at his pro day. After one practice, Bridgewater saw three years of impressive play at Louisville start to swirl down the drain.

''I would say the comparison to Willie Beamen, that was pretty harsh,'' Bridgewater said of one anonymous coach's link between Bridgewater and the fictional quarterback in Oliver Stone's ''Any Given Sunday'' movie. ''But everything happens for a reason. Like I said, you can't control what's being said.''

Texas coach Charlie Strong, who recruited and coached Bridgewater at Louisville, said it was difficult to watch a player he thinks so highly of get so unfairly criticized.

''It was just frustrating to watch it happen,'' Strong said. ''You can't take one workout and tell me that one workout is going to judge who Teddy Bridgewater is and what type of player he is. You take his work and his line of work shows that over the three years.

''I just know this, that football team at the University of Louisville knew they had a chance to win the game when Teddy Bridgewater had the ball in his hands.''

Bridgewater blamed the poor workout on not wearing a glove on his throwing hand, which he did during games for better grip. He wore the glove during a private workout with the Vikings and offensive coordinator Norv Turner later in the pre-draft process and convinced the Vikings that the pro day was a fluke.

''It was a decision that I made and you can best believe that I'll continue to wear my gloves,'' he said.