Teddy Bridgewater’s Heisman candidacy was born Jan. 2, 2013 against the Florida Gators defense inside the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. It was an unexpected delivery, but on that night a gloved Bridgewater gave the Gators heralded defense an immaculate C-section and emerged on the national stage with Similac breath as a frontrunner for the 79-year-old award.
After a 6-0 start to the season that featured a bit of a palpitation against Rutgers the week prior, Louisville welcomed the Central Florida Knights to their stadium on an ordinary Friday night. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a commanding victory on a festive night quickly became a nightmare. It’s unfair, but Bridgewater’s Heisman aspirations hinged on perfection – a perfect season.
Bridgewater did in everything in his power to keep the Cardinals ahead, but 341 yards later, his Heisman campaign had passed away. Based off of initial reports, the Central Florida offense, not the defense, are suspects. While Bridgewater slashed the Central Florida defense for much of the night, it was Central Florida’s offense that delivered the fatal blow to a defense that was ranked third nationally.
Despite the defensive letdown, Bridgewater harbored no ill will towards his overrated defense.
"You can't live in misery," he mumbled after the game. "You can't live in a loss. One loss doesn't determine the whole season."
Blake Bortles' two-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Godfrey with 23 ticks engraved on the clock left the crowd in attendance at Papa Johns Cardinals Stadium in complete shock, however, dreams of Bridgewater hoisting the Heisman were the only reported casualty.
Just as Bridgewater requested Louisville not advertise his Heisman candidacy before the preseason, the university stayed true to form and held a small private service to mourn the passing. Then, the crowd in attendance poured out the stands, filled up their cups, then got hammered in the hopes of blacking out and forgetting what they just saw.
They were the only witnesses. Louisville has taken such extreme lengths to get their brand on national television that the Cardinals were pushed to infringing on high school football turf on Friday night when most Americans were disconnected from their television screens.
Charlie Strong spoke at the wake and recited Langston Hughes’ “Dreams”.
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
As winter approaches in the sparsely populated commonwealth of Kentucky, those words couldn’t be more appropriate.
Yet, this is not a time of grieving, but a celebration of life and Bridgewater’s NFL future. Not joining the list of ignominious NFL quarterbacks such as Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, Andre Ware, Jason White, Mat Leinart, Vince Young and Tim Tebow to win the Heisman Trophy isn’t the worst thing that could happen.
There was no burial, just a cremation. The ashes were spread across the field where Bridgewater’s career began as a freshman two years ago. There is speculation that Lousiville may rock their black uniforms against South Florida to honor Bridgewater's fallen Heisman aspirations.