Why Teddy Bridgewater had a successful career in the NFL

Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater / David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

After his gruesome knee injury in 2016, no one expected former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to last in the NFL for as long as he did.

Just as he did during his final season with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater stood on the sidelines this past Sunday and watched his team, the Detroit Lions, suffer a difficult loss in the NFC Championship.

With the loss, Bridgewater is expected to retire from the NFL and begin a career coaching high school football.

The 2023 season was the 10th in the league for the former Vikings quarterback, and after almost losing his leg during a 2016 practice, very few people thought his career in the NFL would end up lasting as long as it actually did.

Former Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater defied the odds in his NFL career

Back on August 30th, 2016, Bridgewater was in the middle of preparing for his third season in Minnesota, and he was hoping to help the team win back-to-back NFC North titles for the first time since 2009.

But then, in the blink of an eye, his whole career, and life, changed after he suffered a non-contact leg injury during a practice that resulted in a dislocation of the quarterback’s knee, a torn ACL, and other structural damage to the area.

Had the Vikings’ training staff not acted so quickly to get Bridgewater to the hospital, it’s possible that he could have lost his leg because of the injury.

Luckily, that didn’t happen, and instead, Bridgewater underwent surgery to repair his injuries, and after that day, his main focus was on proving his doubters wrong by returning to an NFL field.

Bridgewater rehabbed his injuries relentlessly, and in Week 10 of the 2017 season, the quarterback was rewarded for his hard work when Minnesota activated him for the first time since their wild-card matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 playoffs.

A few weeks later, Bridgewater was able to get some actual snaps on the field for the first time since the 2015 regular season, and as he walked onto the field, the crowd inside U.S. Bank Stadium roared as if he had just thrown a game-winning touchdown.

That was Bridgewater’s only appearance during the 2017 season, and it would turn out to be his very last time in a Vikings uniform.

During the 2018 offseason, Minnesota decided to move on from their former first-round draft pick and go with free-agent Kirk Cousins as their new starting quarterback.

It was a difficult move, but one that most people understood, considering the severity of Bridgewater’s knee injury and the uncertainty surrounding his future in the NFL.

Fast forward to today, and after his departure from the Vikings, the veteran quarterback went on to start a total of 37 games in stints with the Lions, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Miami Dolphins from 2018 to 2023.

In the years after he left Minnesota, he also made more than $58 million, according to OverTheCap.com

As a first-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bridgewater was immediately given the high expectations of possibly becoming the next franchise quarterback for the Vikings.

Did he live up to those expectations? No, but his career became about something completely different after he suffered his leg injury in 2016.

Bridgewater beat the massive odds that were stacked against him, and the fact that he was able to continue to make a living as a professional football player for multiple years after his gruesome injury makes his time in the NFL a huge success, regardless of whatever his final stats turned out to be.