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Johnny Manziel had a season for the ages in 2012. The then-freshman quarterback at Texas A&M took college football by storm and won the Heisman Trophy.
I’m sure the trophy is valued by anyone who is nominated to receive it, but I became disillusioned with the award (much less some of the winners) a long time ago.
Manziel made news in the off-season for tweeting that he “can’t wait to leave college station [sic],” which is where Texas A&M is located. I’m sure his coach was happy to hear how much his star player just wants to get out of town.
More recently, Manziel made news for putting his signature on memorabilia that will likely be sold for profit by someone else. OK, that really doesn’t sound that controversial except to the NCAA, who suspended Manziel for half a game even though they can’t prove he received any money himself (which would be a violation of NCAA rules).
Fortunately, football fans in the state of Kentucky don’t have to look far to see a better role model.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the better quarterbacks in college football, and people who watch football much closer than I do think he may be the most NFL-ready quarterback in college.
Bridgewater has certainly endeared himself to Cardinal fans for his play on the field, especially after fighting through a fractured left wrist and a sprained right ankle to lead his team to victory over Rutgers and a Big East championship. He followed that by dissecting the Florida Gators’ defense in the Sugar Bowl.
Bridgewater is being discussed rightly as a Heisman contender, although he has asked his school to avoid the Presidential-style campaign that has become part of the Heisman race. Given Louisville’s admittedly weak schedule, it would be difficult for Bridgewater to overcome the politics of the award anyway, no matter how well he plays.
Based on his own statements, Bridgewater isn’t concerned about individual accolades. He recently told Louisville Magazine that he wishes more interviewers would ask him questions about his teammates.
(He also told the reporter that he would rather fight 100 duck-sized horses instead of one horse-sized duck, but the reporter brought that up, not Bridgewater.)
Bridgewater has been nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. This award recognizes athletes whose good deeds extend beyond the field, who volunteer in their communities and remain in good academic standing.
Bridgewater has volunteered at Louisville-area schools and participated in tornado relief clean-up. That’s only part of what he’s done, but I think it gives a sense of where his heart is.
Most likely, this is probably the last season Louisville fans will get to cheer for Bridgewater in a Cardinal uniform. Thankfully, he’s giving all football fans reasons to hope for his continued success.