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Teddy Bridgewater remembers some of his teammates crying. They were on their knees and praying.
For him.
The New York Jets quarterback was with the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 when he went down in a heap of agonizing pain. Bridgewater had twisted his left knee
badly on a non-contact play Jalen Reeves-Maybin Jersey , and the severity of the injury was only beginning to surface.
Bridgewater knew from the looks of his teammates' faces that the situation was dire. And somehow, he stayed calm.
"As gruesome as it may have seemed, I feel like I did a great job of remaining poised," Bridgewater recalled Tuesday as the Jets opened their
three-day minicamp.
Coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance, Bridgewater had torn the anterior cruciate ligament and had other structural damage, including a dislocated knee
joint.
"There were guys throwing helmets, guys on knees and I didn't cry and I didn't worry," Bridgewater said. "I just knew that it was in God's hands. I
think I was impressed with the way I kept my faith, but I got to see how much I
meant to the guys ??not only as a football player, but also as a person. It
could've went totally south."
His career was in jeopardy, and at one point, saving his mangled left leg was the only thing that mattered.
"It was scary," Bridgewater said while managing a smile. "But at the end of the day, I was still breathing. That was my biggest takeaway from it. ... When
there's someone out there whose situation is worse than yours, that's the first
thing that came into my mind. Like, 'Man, I don't know what just happened, but I
know there's someone out there who's going through something worse than I am, so
I just have to keep my faith and believe that everything's going to be all
right.'"
Bridgewater gets his perseverance and never-quit attitude from his mother, Rose Murphy, who raised him and his three siblings in the Miami area. She's a
breast cancer survivor who has been in remission for several years Barry Sanders Jersey , something that is a source of pride for Bridgewater. He also counts her as his biggest supporter.
"She was a fighter, so I witnessed her fight with her battle with breast cancer," Bridgewater said. "I took away those traits and attitude. Whenever she
was down ??well, she was never really down because she would always say,
'There's someone out there whose situation is way worse than mine, so I can't be
down, plus the cancer feeds off negativity, so I have to be positive.'
"So that's why I feel like I'm just this positive guy. Watching her continue to smile and stay upbeat throughout her toughest times in life had a huge impact
on me."
Bridgewater has needed every bit of that positivity during the last two years of often grueling rehabilitation. Now 25, the former Louisville star is still a
youngster in NFL years. But the injury was enough to make some teams wary of
giving him a chance after the Vikings allowed him to become a free agent during
the offseason.
The Jets, looking for quarterback depth, signed him for $500,000 in March and drafted Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick a month later. Josh McCown, who
turns 39 on July 4, remains the favorite to win the starting job, but
Bridgewater could have as much of a shot at winning the three-man competition as
anyone ??especially if he continues progressing. He won't discuss details of his
health or his status, other than saying he's getting better every day.
"To be able to just stand here right now, I'm thankful for the guys who supported me through the injury," Bridgewater said, "and the guys still there
today."
He's wearing a brace around the left knee, which is covered by a sleeve. But he doesn't appear to be hampered by any of it. Bridgewater has thrown some of
the prettiest passes in the practice sessions open to the media, including
several throws on the run.
"Having not been injured like that Shon Coleman Jersey , I can't even relate to someone being injured like that," coach Todd Bowles said. "But just knowing Teddy's personality and the
drive he has, it doesn't surprise me."
There were plenty of people who doubted he'd get to this point. Bridgewater isn't here to prove them wrong.
"Not at all," he insisted. "I do it for the ones who believed in me because that small ounce of faith and belief got me over the hump."
Bridgewater made it back onto the field late last season for a few plays, but the moment he knew the comeback was on track happened when he rejoined his
teammates on the Vikings sideline again ??in full uniform ??in November.
It was then that he allowed his emotions get to him.
Finally.
"This game means a lot to me," Bridgewater said. "I've been playing football since I was 5 years old, and it brought tears to my eyes because it showed me
that you're never out of it. You're never out of the fight. There were dark days
throughout my rehab process, so when you're rehabbing, the light seems so far at
the end of the tunnel. But to be able to see that light, and make it to the
light ??which is being active and standing on that sideline with my gear on ??it
kind of hit me a little.
"I joked around with my agent, my adviser, told them, 'Man, I'm a tough guy. I won't cry.' But reality set in. It was truly a blessing to be back out there
and, you know, continue to live your dream."
Moritz Wagner grew up in Berlin dreaming of an NBA career, and he went all the way to Michigan to chase it.
The German big man will get his chance with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers chose Wagner with the 25th pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, adding the versatile center as the next piece in their talented young core.
The 6-foot-11 Wagner entered the draft after leading the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament championship game. He led Michigan with 14.6 points and 7.1
rebounds per game last season, demonstrating versatility and a steady outside
shot to go with his big-game clutch performances in the tournament.
Wagner worked out twice for the Lakers and general manager Rob Pelinka, a fellow Michigan man. After getting the call from Pelinka, Wagner already knew it
was Showtime.
”They obviously are a very flashy franchise Golden Tate III Jersey ,” Wagner said. ”They love to play fast. Coach (Luke) Walton used to play as well, so he’s a players’ coach, and he wants his
players to make plays, be confident. They focus a lot on playing fast, and
that’s something I’m really excited to do.”
The Lakers stayed in Europe during the second round and used the 47th overall pick on Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas’ Ukrainian outside shooting whiz. Although
Pelinka wasn’t allowed to confirm it, the Lakers also are widely expected to get
German teenager Isaac Bonga, the 39th overall pick by Philadelphia, when the
trade can be announced next month.
The Lakers are focused on the free-agent signing period next week as the path back into championship contention after the worst half-decade stretch in
franchise history. But before the Lakers find out whether Paul George, LeBron
James or Kawhi Leonard will land in Hollywood, they added Wagner to their
foundation of young talent including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and
Josh Hart.
”We’re building a culture here, and (Wagner) brings a lot to the table,” Walton said. ”As far as the passion he plays with, his unselfish nature, the way
that he spreads the floor, all these things that we’ve seen on film and that we
saw live a couple of times when he worked out for us, we’re excited.”
Wagner grew up in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood of Germany’s capital religiously watching NBA games and even American college hoops. He admired
fellow German Dirk Nowitzki, but really idolized Kevin Garnett.
Wagner played in the youth system of German pro team ALBA Berlin before Michigan coach John Beilein traveled to Europe on a one-day recruiting trip and
persuaded him to head for Ann Arbor.
”I remember getting up at 3 a.m., watching the games Zack Martin Jersey ,” Wagner said. ”Dirk (Nowitzki) had a huge impact on that, just being a player that made it, a player that did incredible things in
the league, and also being a player that was under the radar for a long time,
and just this skinny kid from Germany, similar to me. That dream is very, very
far away when you’re over there, so it’s exciting to be here.”
He was joined at the draft by his parents, several German friends and the Michigan coaching staff.
Wagner is already familiar with Staples Center after leading Michigan to two victories in the arena during the West Regional last March. He dropped 21 points
on Texas A&M and fellow first-round pick Robert Williams at the Lakers’ home
arena before cutting down the Staples nets after scoring 12 points in a victory
over Florida State in the West Regional final.
The Lakers traded away their own first-round pick in this draft, the 12th overall, in their deal with Phoenix six years ago to acquire Steve Nash in their
disastrous attempt to build a superteam. Los Angeles acquired the 25th pick from
Cleveland last February in the trade involving Isaiah Thomas, Jordan Clarkson
and Larry Nance Jr.
Mykhailiuk was an outstanding outside shooter for the Jayhawks’ Final Four team, scoring 14.6 points per game while hitting 115 total 3-pointers. Knocks on
his defense and wingspan put him in the second round, but the Lakers were
impressed by his skill in their private workout.
”When you build a team, you have to have pillars that you build on,” Pelinka said. ”We felt like with the two players that we selected tonight in the draft
that we added shooting and guys that know how to play the game the right way.
We’re just thrilled with the way the night ended for us.”

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Posted 31 Aug 2018

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