Bridgewater’s glove love helps him prove himself to Vikings
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Glove or no glove is no longer a question to Teddy Bridgewater.
With a glove on his throwing hand, Bridgewater answered all of the Minnesota Vikings’ questions, too.
Bridgewater’s path to the NFL was dramatically altered by a curious Pro Day, an erratic showing which caused NFL teams pause after he performed without a glove. Bridgewater wore a glove during his entire college career in becoming the top quarterback prospect when the season ended.
"It was a decision that I made based off the way that I was trying to practice for the Pro Day," Bridgewater said. "But I walked away from the Pro Day (and) I was able to learn a valuable lesson to continue to do what got you here and do what you’re comfortable doing."
Struggling with accuracy, seen as one of Bridgewater’s best traits after completing 70.96 percent of his passes last season, the Pro Day caused Bridgewater’s NFL stock to drop. Minnesota only saw another reason to get a closer look at Bridgewater.
The Vikings met with Bridgewater at least four times in the lead-up to the draft. Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman, coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner were at Bridgewater’s Louisville Pro Day.
After not seeing the same throwing display Spielman had seen live three times, and the others countless times on film, the Vikings had to take another look.
"Coming out of the season, before all of the Pro Days, it’s amazing how sometimes that can influence things," Spielman said. "It can influence things from a media standpoint, but you always have to go back to that’s why you’re out there on the road, that’s why you’re watching these players play live, that’s why you are watching these players on tape. You have to always go back and rely on what you see and trust your judgment on that."
So, Spielman, Zimmer and Turner did their due diligence on Bridgewater, making sure their eyes didn’t deceive them.
Minnesota double-checked Bridgewater for health reasons. A medical check at the NFL Scouting Combine in February showed Bridgewater had a slow heartbeat, Bridgewater said. The Vikings brought Bridgewater to Minnesota for another physical, with more tests clearing him and showing his heart wouldn’t be an issue.
The throwing ability would have to be re-checked, too.
The Vikings traveled to Bridgewater’s hometown of Miami to meet with him again, conducting a private workout. This time, the glove was back on.
"Well for one, I wore my glove and felt comfortable being around the coaches," Bridgewater said of the differences between the private workout and his Pro Day. "It was another opportunity to showcase my talents, just had a great day overall. Coach Turner, he was coaching me up as I was going through the process and I was able to just take that great coaching and apply it to the field."
Spielman and Turner saw better control of his passes. They also saw someone who responded to coaching.
"That said, this guy is what we saw on tape," Spielman said, adding: "Some of the flaws you may have seen during the original Pro Day, as soon as he got coached, those things were getting corrected and getting corrected quickly and you could see the improvement just off the private workout we had with him."
Zimmer didn’t attend the private workout, but Spielman and Turner returned confident in Bridgewater’s ability to become the Vikings’ franchise quarterback.
"They were drooling when they came back," Zimmer said.
Bridgewater said he learned a valuable lesson from trying to go without a glove. The lesson resonated with Zimmer.
"He said, ‘You just learn to stay true to yourself,’" Zimmer said. "And then he came out with us with the glove and threw it all over the place."
Bridgewater started wearing the glove when he first went to Louisville. He will return to the glove the moment he arrives in Minnesota.
"It was a decision that I made and you can best believe that I’ll continue to wear my gloves," Bridgewater said.
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