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Perhaps native Floridian Teddy Bridgewater is a lucky man

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As he was dying from a disease that would later bear his name, Lou Gehrig uttered some of the most famous words ever spoken on an athletic field. On July 2, 1939 he told the crowd at Yankee Stadium that despite his impending death, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a bad break earlier this week, but he can consider himself lucky. His gruesome injury suffered earlier this week was never a life-or-death moment, but it could have meant far more than missing time on the football field.

For those who have not heard the story, Bridgewater was involved in non-contact drills earlier this week. As he dropped back to pass, he completely tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and dislocated his left knee. It had to be personally devastating for one of the NFL’s top rising stars.

This is not the first time he has had a knee problem. As a senior at Miami Northwestern High School, he missed significant time with a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury.

His stellar career at Northwestern earned him a scholarship to the University of Louisville, where he starred for three seasons. The Florida Gators remember him all too well for his performance in the 2013 Sugar Bowl.

Louisville was a 13-point underdog, yet Bridgewater threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to the huge upset of the Gators, 33-23. Bridgewater was the game’s MVP.

His arrival in Minneapolis officially marked the end of the Christian Ponder experiment. The former Florida State quarterback was soon to be on his way out while Bridgewater was on his way to stardom.

Bridgewater’s future as a football player is now a question mark, but it could have been so much worse. Emerging from the fog of despair surrounding him (and those who root for the Vikings) came some good news.

We learned that quick action from team trainers and medical staff before the ambulance arrived may have saved his leg. Internal bleeding was involved and, according to injury expert Will Carroll, something called “arterial strangulation” could have developed.

Amputation could have been a realistic possibility. Now, he can focus on his rehab and getting back onto the football field in 2017.

Vikings’ Coach Mike Zimmer immediately called off practice when Bridgewater went down. He later showed just how he felt about his young quarterback when a reporter asked to which hospital was Bridgewater taken.

“Let’s let him get healthy,” he responded. “Please, I’m just asking you because I love this kid, and our fans love this kid.”

Bridgewater’s circumstances have fans from other NFL teams rooting for him. Thankfully, they are pulling for him to get back on the field and not praying for him to be able to cope with an artificial leg.

Whether he knows it or not, Teddy Bridgewater may be one of the luckiest men on the face of the earth.

 

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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