Donovan McNabb was part of the Minnesota Vikings for only a few months, joining them at the end of the 2011 lockout as training camp opened, then leaving the team before the end of the season after he lost his starting job to Christian Ponder.
But McNabb’s influence on the team’s quarterback position has been back in play for almost a year now, as the 13-year veteran of the NFL who threw for more than 37,000 yards is an occasional mentor for the team’s current starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.
“I just tried to express my experience to him and prepare him for what he’ll be faced with. When you’re talking to some of these young guys, you’ve just got to lead them into developing into the quarterback they want to be,” McNabb told Viking Update during Super Bowl week. “Not only that, I want Teddy to understand the type of person that people want their quarterbacks to represent. He comes from a great family with his mom. She’s always been there for him and supportive, and the way that you give back to them is by playing well and being a good man and representing the family the right way. Keep your chin high and be yourself.”
Bridgewater revealed his relationship with McNabb at the end of the 2014 season, saying he talked to McNabb throughout the draft process, a line of communication that remained open during Bridgewater’s rookie season. They talked about once a month, Bridgewater said.
“He’s a guy who had success in this league, even though he couldn’t get over that hump to get them a ring. But he’s a guy who had success in this league and he’s someone that I look toward as a mentor or for guidance,” Bridgewater said.
The two became friends because their agents are friends, and they also met when McNabb was covering Bridgewater’s pro day for FoxSports 1.
“We sat down and got a chance to talk. He told me I was one of his idols and he wore 5 pretty much because I wore 5,” McNabb said. “It’s about mentoring to these young guys. I’m just happy to see his first year and how it went.”
The admiration is turning mutual after Bridgewater had a strong rookie season, completing 259 of 404 passes for 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His 64.4 completion percentage was the third-highest by a rookie quarterback in NFL history, his 14 passing touchdowns were the second-most in team history for a rookie quarterback (shy of only Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton), and his six wins were easily the most in franchise history.
“I think Minnesota has a gem,” McNabb said. “There’s a guy that’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win. You’ve seen him in Louisville and the success that he’s had under Charlie Strong. Running an offense, he’s got full command, spreads the ball around, gets guys the ball.
“With Adrian Peterson coming back next year, the running game is going to elevate, the passing game is going to have that experience now with a second year under his belt. And the offensive line I’m sure is going to shake some things up and get some new faces. I think Minnesota is a team that’s on the rise. They’re in a tough division, but I think they’re that obviously (head coach Mike) Zimmer and (offensive coordinator) Norv Turner are going to get together and make sure that they compete each and every week.”
McNabb believes the next step for Bridgewater’s career is mainly about him gaining more self-confidence.
“Confidence and being effective,” McNabb said. “As a quarterback, you get measured on how you play on third down, being accurate in the pocket and delivering the ball.”
McNabb: Bridgewater is Minnesota’s ‘gem’
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