EAGAN (Minn.) -- You can see the impact of Teddy Bridgewater’s smile, his determination to continue playing football after a terrible knee injury, and his attitude about everything in the No. Five Minnesota Vikings jerseys were seen Wednesday in the crowd at the Vikings' suburban Minneapolis facility.
Bridgewater is currently in the throes a quarterback completion with Denver Broncos and hasn't played for the Vikings in a game since 2017. Bridgewater was not the starter in the first two seasons of his four-year tenure with the team, but a player who wanted to see if it was possible to get back on the field.
There were many people, young and old, who mingled in the stands wearing mementos, which gave them a glimpse of their time with the team.
Bridgewater laughed after a post-practice exercise, saying, "Feeling really emotional coming out the weight room. Just did like 5,000 crunches man." It's wonderful to be back. ... It was amazing to see. A few small children wore No. It was cool to see a few children wearing No. 5 jerseys.
The Broncos' and Vikings' second joint practice will be held Thursday. This will lead up to Saturday night, which is the preseason opener for both sides. Bridgewater will feel a bit more emotionally this week than he might have expected.
After a Pro Bowl season in 2015 as the Vikings' starting quarterback, Bridgewater moved through training camp 2016 with lofty expectations. Bridgewater was injured in non-contact practices on Aug. 20 2016.
Teddy Bridgewater was in Minnesota Wednesday to participate in the first of two joint Vikings practices. He said that he is having "more fun than ever" playing football. Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via AP
Dan Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys team physician, described it as a "horribly gross injury" and a "war wound." Bridgewater would only play in one of the nine games over the next two-years.
Bridgewater stated Wednesday that "I have been thinking about it more recently than I ever have in the past." "Just about the time I was hurt and up to this point. It's my motivation. It used to be that I would just ignore it and say, "Man, it happened." But now, I use it as motivation. It's like I'm standing right where I should have been. It was almost necessary to have my leg amputated, and I feel blessed every morning when I get up in the morning. I have the opportunity to get my feet on the ground, and I can go out and play football, which is a sport I love. This game is so much fun for me now. It's more fun than ever.
Bridgewater was traded by the Broncos the day before April's draft. George Paton, the Broncos' first-year general manger, had spent 14 years with Bridgewater, which included Bridgewater's four-year tenure with the Vikings. He believed that acquiring Bridgewater was a win-win scenario: Bridgewater would be good enough to win games with the Broncos if he wins the job but also an active player team-oriented enough help Drew Lock along his journey if he lost the Bron
After Wednesday's practice, Lock stated that "I've really loved spending time with Teddy."
He said, "He's always willing and able to help, always has a smile on him face. He said: "He's just a fun, energetic guy to be around." He is a great guy to have around.
Bridgewater said last week that he wasn't sure he would be feeling all that emotional about the Broncos returning to Minnesota to practice and play in the preseason. That was Wednesday, however.
Bridgewater stated that he thought about how he has changed from the player and person he was before the injury and now as he attempts to get the Broncos' starting job.
Bridgewater stated, "The biggest takeaway from my spots was that I learned that I am a survivor." Bridgewater said, "No matter what the circumstances, no matter how difficult the situation is, how can you survive?" You have two options: you can either die and be eaten alive, or you can survive and hunt. This is my mentality.
He said, "[Vikings fans] welcomed the boy who became a gentleman, and they were so genuine here, and that's something I still appreciate to this day." It's that simple. The people of Minnesota are nice and I appreciate the support I get.