EAGAN, Minn. – Garrett Bradbury stepped to the podium at Twin Cities Orthopedics Center in a navy blue suit and purple tie, but he’s looking forward to exchanging the dress clothes for a jersey next week.
Bradbury called the 18 hours or so since being drafted 18th overall “crazy” and expressed gratitude to the Vikings for bringing him to Minnesota.
“Hearing more about the history of this great organization, the culture that it has here – I just can’t wait to play football again, really,” Bradbury told Twin Cities media members Friday afternoon. “Four months, there have been a lot of steps in this process, not a lot of football, though. So I’m excited to get on the field, meet my new teammates and get to work with them.”
When asked about his comfort level at leading a group of offensive linemen as a rookie, the 23-year-old center responded that earning his teammates’ respect is the number-one priority.
He emphasized that no one wants to listen to someone “barking orders at everybody,” and he’s taking a very different approach.
“I’m just going to come in and work,” said Bradbury, who served as a team captain for N.C. State. “That’s what I’ve always done, whether it’s as a freshman or a senior, now I’m going to be a rookie. I’m just going to come in, work, earn the guys’ respect, compete, and figure out my role and maximize it to the best of my ability.”
Bradbury may be young, but he does have experience going against some of the most talented defensive linemen in the collegiate ranks – not only on game days against ACC opponents but also four years of going against the Wolfpack defense in practice.
According to Bradbury, N.C. State’s defensive line helped him develop into the player he is today.
“[We had] the best competition, in my opinion, against our own defensive line, which I loved the most,” he said. “I think that’s where we got a lot better as an O-line, going against our D-line, where we had four guys drafted [last year].”
And now, it’s his turn.
Bradbury received Thursday night’s phone call from his parents’ home in the Charlotte, North Carolina suburb of Lake Wylie, South Carolina, surrounded by family and close friends. He had a difficult time putting into words the moment that will forever impact his life.
“There was a lot of emotions. It was unbelievable,” he said. “The phone rang, and I just kind of blanked out from there on. Heart was pounding. It was just so much hard work, so many people that have invested in me. Truly a dream come true. Kind of speechless.”
Bradbury traveled with his father, Tim, to Minnesota Friday morning. He said it’s been “everything” to involve his family in his football journey.
“This is their day as much as it is mine,” said Garrett, just a handful of feet away from where Tim proudly sat. “They’ve done everything for me my whole life, helped me get where I am, and there’s no one else I'd rather share it with than friends and family I was with last night and obviously my dad being here today.”
It was actually Tim who foresaw his son’s success as an offensive lineman.
When Garrett transitioned from tight end to defensive line and then to guard after his redshirt season at N.C. State – and then to center as a junior in 2017 – Tim wasn’t surprised that he excelled.
“I always knew he’d be … an offensive lineman. He has that mentality,” Tim said. “When the helmet’s not on, he’s a student of the game. But you put the helmet on, he can be a little ornery and get after people. So I always thought he’d make a good offensive lineman.
“He never agreed with me, during high school and the first year of college, but then when Doeren asked him, he finally took a clue and followed some advice,” Tim added.
View behind-the-scenes images of Vikings 2019 rookie class as they took his first trip to the TCO Performance Center.
Asked to identify his favorite off-the-field aspect of Garrett, Doeren said, “Garrett is just a guy’s guy and a great human being. He’s fun to hang out with and cares about people and treats people with respect. If any of you have children, you want your children to be like him. He’s as classy a person as you’re going to be around, but he’s as competitive as one at the same time.”
Tim described Thursday night as “relaxed.”
“We had no idea where he was gonna go, who was going to take him, whether it was going to be last night, today,” Tim said. “It didn’t really matter. It was a culmination of a lot of hard work. We’re just happy.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt, though, that Garrett was drafted by the team his father grew up watching.
A native of Seattle, Tim attended Puyallup High School, where the mascot was a Viking. Being that the Seahawks had yet to be established, Tim found himself following the Vikings.
“Chuck Foreman, [Fran] Tarkenton, the Purple People Eaters, those are the guys that I grew up watching on Sunday morning NFL highlights,” said Tim, who identified Foreman his favorite player. “You always had Chuck Foreman [on the cut-up highlights] because he’d catch the ball and do that damn spin move and run for another 30 yards.”
Adding yet another surprise to the day, Foreman himself made a surprise visit to TCO Performance Center to meet the Vikings newest draft pick – and to give his father a special memento.
The former running back presented Tim with an autographed 44 jersey to add to a Vikings wardrobe that will certainly grow.
Come this fall, Garrett’s family will be trading in their Wolfpack red for Vikings Purple at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Tim said. “I think for him, if it’s anything like his N.C. State experience, it’s going to be surreal, he’s going to be a little bit numb. And then after the first hit, he’ll be all over it. And the family, we’ll be excited, too. It’ll be good.”
The Bradburys are thrilled to now be part of an organization that not only has a deep on-field history but also one that places high value on a player’s off-field presence.
Garrett appreciated hearing Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer praise not only his playing style but also his personality and character.
“You love to hear that an organization appreciates that,” Garrett said. “That’s huge, and I think it’s just a testament to my parents. I think it’s a testament to the mentors I’ve had in my life that helped me become the man I am today.
“When you come to a place and culture and character is preached, that goes a long way,” Garrett continued. “I couldn’t be more excited to be part of an organization that values that.”
The feeling is mutual.
“I know that you probably saw a lot of the highlights of him being able to reach 3-techniques and cut off nose tackles and all those things, trying to create separation and seams down the field,” Zimmer said. “He’s a very good athlete, great balance.”
Added Zimmer: “[But] probably more importantly, a great person. So we’re excited to have him here.”