Lunchbreak: How Bradbury’s Baseball Background Could Help in NFL

Garrett Bradbury was a first-round pick as a football player, but his background in another sport could help him thrive in the NFL.

ESPN Vikings beat reporter Courtney Cronin recently dove into Bradbury’s baseball career, and found that the rookie center’s time as a catcher in high school could translate to the football field.

Cronin chatted with Bradbury’s former high school coach and teammates at Charlotte Christian, and found out Bradbury was a dedicated player who loved days on the diamond.

Cronin wrote:

Bradbury was immediately drawn to the cerebral aspect of baseball. Being allowed to control the flow of the game by calling pitches allowed him to flex his mental muscle like he did with his grip-it-and-rip-it hitting style.

The pitch calls came from the coaches in the dugout at Charlotte Christian, which were written on an arm band he was expected to wear and reference during the game.

Bradbury forgot his wrist band one afternoon. [Charlotte Christian coach Greg] Simmons wasn’t happy but received a word of reassurance from him that changed his tune.

Coach, don’t worry. I’ve got this.

“That son of a gun memorized the whole thing and didn’t miss a call the entire game,” Simmons said. “So, after that, I said he didn’t have to wear it.”

Cronin said the hope for the Vikings is that the leadership Bradbury showed on the baseball field will translate to a successful career on the gridiron.

It’s a role he has prepared for since the day he was drafted, knowing fully well that being able to do so relies on the same mental preparedness and communication skills he sharpened in baseball.

“You’ve got to earn the guys’ respect first,” Bradbury said. “No one is going to listen to a rookie coming in barking orders trying to lead anyone. So I'’m just going to come in and work. That’s what I’ve always done, whether it’s a freshman or a senior, now I’m going to be a rookie.”

View photos of the Vikings during their fifth OTA practice on May 29 at TCO Performance Center.

NFL.com Lists Tarkenton as All-Time Franchise QB

Franchise quarterbacks … teams either have them or are looking for them.

And those who become franchise quarterbacks usually go down as some of the most beloved players in team history.

Ali Bhanpuri of NFL.com is going through each division and looking at the all-time franchise quarterback for each team. He tackled the NFC North earlier this week, and it was no surprise Bhanpuri went with Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton as the man in Minnesota.

In order for to qualify, a player must have 48 starts with one team and meet two of the following three requirements:

1) Winning regular-season record

2) Minimum passer rating of 75.0

3) At least one Pro Bowl selection

Bhanpuri said Tarkenton's legendary play and ability to help the Vikings get to three of the team’s four Super Bowls puts him at the top of the Vikings list.

Bhanpuri wrote:

Tarkenton’s accomplishments in his first go-around with the Vikings (1961-66) aren’t applicable to this exercise, but he’s more well-known for the feats he achieved in his Vikings return, anyway. After re-joining the team in 1972 following a five-year stint with the Giants, Tarkenton guided Minnesota on an incredible run that included six straight postseason trips and three Super Bowl berths in four years.

Though the Vikings never captured football’s ultimate trophy during that span — and they still haven’t — no other QB in franchise history provided as much stability and sustained winning as he did. Had Randall Cunningham’s 1998 squad finished off the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game and finally captured a championship for Minnesota, I wonder if his Vikings tenure might’ve turned out differently. Would his name be the fourth on the Vikes’ list?

Based on the above criteria, Bhanpuri also had Daunte Culpepper and Wade Wilson as candidates for the Vikings.

Tarkenton, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986, started 170 career games in Purple, going 91-73-6 with Minnesota.

Tarkenton was the NFL’s all-time passing leader with 47,003 yards when he retired in 1978. He currently ranks 11th in that category, and threw 342 career touchdowns.

As for the rest of the NFC North, Bhanpuri went with Jim McMahon in Chicago, current Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and former Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who finished his career with the Vikings.

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