I don’t profess to know Teddy Bridgewater very well. But I know his smile. It’s always there.
If you see Teddy, you see his broad, toothy smile.
In the locker room. On the practice field. Pregame. Everywhere.
He’s always smiling. He’s always upbeat, always positive, always happy.
That’s Teddy Bridgewater, the man tasked with leading the Dolphins (8-7) out of their four-game tailspin and, possibly, into the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Bridgewater replaces Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback this week when they venture to New England in their most crucial game of the season.
A lot’s on the line.
But Bridgewater, the eight-year veteran, former NFL starter, and former Pro Bowl selection, is a fitting leader.
He’ll definitely bring positive vibes and good energy.
“He’s got his own swag to him,” quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell said. “I mean, he could be a Hawaii guy as well, just his laid back [attitude]. I don’t know, maybe it’s the Florida in him. He’s very laid back. Never too high, never too low, but he’s a happy guy.”
Bridgewater, the local product who attended Miami Northwestern High School, is one of South Florida’s best-known athletic ambassadors, along with, say, Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat.
Bridgewater is someone who maintains close ties with his Miami community. He loves South Florida, and South Florida loves him.
You should have seen Bridgewater last week before the Green Bay game. He was tossing the football with fans in the stands, talking with them, laughing with them, posing for pictures with them, and generally bouncing around the field like a 12-year-old kid living a dream. He was smiling. He was happy.
But that’s nothing unusual.
Bridgewater, I’ve noticed, is a man of the people. And he always seems to be happy.
A few weeks ago I passed those observations along to Bridgewater and told him I wanted to write a column declaring him being the happiest man in the NFL. He laughed.
After he playfully (and correctly) chided me because this was the first time I’d talked to him since the week of the New York Jets game, a game he lasted just one play before leaving the game due to a questionable concussion-related symptom, he seemed to generally agree with my premise. He smiled while remarking to a nearby team employee, that, yeah, of course he’s happy, especially considering where he was six years ago, meaning recovering from a devastating, career-threatening knee injury that caused him to miss the entire 2016 season.
I also mentioned my column idea to Terron Armstead, the Dolphins’ Pro Bowl left tackle and a good friend of Bridgewater’s from their days together with the New Orleans Saints.
“Oh, Teddy Two Gloves?” Armstead said with a smile.
Bridgewater earned that moniker because he wears two gloves, a glove on each hand, when he plays. Teddy Two Gloves.
Bridgewater used to go to Armstead’s house for dinners and to hang out. Armstead said it’d be a good column, that Bridgewater is always happy, always positive, the type of person you like to be around because of his attitude.
How will Bridgewater’s attitude translate into a road victory at New England and against Bill Belichick, the GOAT?
That’s tough to say.
Bridgewater will definitely have the Dolphins relaxed, positive, upbeat and believing in themselves before their biggest games of the season. That’s what he does, that’s one way his positive energy and attitude help. And that’s not all.
“He’s great in the [quarterbacks] room,” Bevell said. “He communicates really well, clearly. And as an older player, he’s very willing to help the younger guys. I could spend a lot of time talking about Teddy and what he means to us in our quarterback room.”
On the field, Bridgewater had the Dolphins in position to possibly defeat Minnesota earlier this season. The Dolphins trailed 16-10 in the fourth quarter and were driving when wide receiver Jaylen Waddle lost a fumble at the Vikings’ 14-yard line. Minnesota went on to win, 24-16.
After the Dolphins lost a heartbreaker at Buffalo a few weeks ago in perhaps their most crushing loss of the season, I walked into the locker room and Bridgewater was there, sitting at his locker, flanked by Tagovailoa and rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson. Bridgewater asked if I was cold, what with my bald head and all. I told him I was warm because I’d been in the press box. I asked him if he’d been cold. He said no. Then I asked him if the snowballs the Buffalo fans were throwing from the stands bothered him. Bridgewater said no.
And then he smiled.