About 25 minutes into Tuesday’s practice, the Minnesota Vikings experienced something they never envisioned. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down with what head coach Mike Zimmer called “a significant knee injury.”
The other players on the field were visually distraught as they saw their quarterback laying on the ground as trainers looked at his left knee. Some were kneeling on the ground with their heads bowed, while others were yelling profanity in anger at the top of their lungs. There was even a small group of players that huddled around Bridgewater and appeared to be praying over him.
Not only were all the players on the team upset because Bridgewater is their starting quarterback and was a big part of what they hoped to accomplish this season, but also because they all adore him as a person.
“Today is a disappointing day because the No. 1 thing is Teddy is such a great kid,” Zimmer began in a press conference following his quarterback’s injury. “Everybody loves him, so today they were disappointed.”
Zimmer said that his team can grieve and feel sorry for Bridgewater on Tuesday, the day of the injury, but they need to be ready to come back and work on Wednesday. This is not the first time a team has lost a player significant to them and it won’t be the last.
“It’s tough today, but tomorrow the sun’s going to (come up),” Zimmer said. “Hey, my wife passed away seven years ago, right? It was a tough day. The sun came up the next day, the world kept spinning, people kept going to work and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The biggest thing now for Zimmer, as the head coach, is to not let this injury effect his team’s psyche too much. They still have one of the best defenses in the NFL, one of the best running backs and no one is going to give them a free pass because they lost a player.
Injuries to key players happen to teams every year. The opposition is not going to feel sorry for them just because Bridgewater can’t go. If anything, their opponents will likely be licking their chops at the chance to play against the Vikings’ backup quarterback. It’s just the nature of the NFL.
It’s going to be a hard situation for Zimmer and his team to overcome and he seems to know that. He has already been reaching out to a number of people for support.
“I keep going back, I’ve talked to coach (Bill) Parcells a couple of times; I’ve talked to, in spirit, my dad and he always found a way to do it, so we’re going to find a way,” Zimmer said. “We’re not going to stick our heads in the sand and we’re going to figure out a way.”
Zimmer’s dad passed away a little over a year ago, but the head coach continues to talk about the influence he has had on him. His dad taught him to keep fighting and to always find a way to accomplish his goals. Those teachings are something he is leaning on now, and something that he is going to make sure his team follows as well.
“That’s our job, to find a way. No one’s going to feel sorry for us. No one’s going to cry,” he said. “... I’m not going to feel sorry for us either and I’m not going to let this team feel sorry for ourselves.”