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Bridgewater on continuing to play despite scary blow to head: 'Yeah, definitely'

Broncos QB is first offensive player to receive 15th annual Darrent Williams Good Guy Award.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As Teddy Bridgewater was getting rolled off the Empower Field at Mile High playing surface while immobilized to a backboard, one question must have crossed through the minds of those who cared for him.

'Why keep playing football, Teddy?' His body type is slight compared to other NFL quarterbacks and his brain was concussed twice over a recent 11-week span. He’s made $55.56 million in career cash earnings, including $35.5 million the past two years. 

> Video above: Klis & Tell: Drew Lock's future, passing of Greg Robinson and facing the Chiefs in season finale.

He has a year-old son. During his Zoom news conference Friday while accepting the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award for the 2021 season, Bridgewater was asked if his recent harrowing injury caused him to consider giving up playing this violent sport.

RELATED: Bridgewater, Simmons honored with Broncos team awards

“I always say every time I get hit or every time I hit the ground, I ask God, ‘Why am I doing this?’’’ Bridgewater said. “Then when I get up and come to work on a Wednesday and see these guys working hard, that’s why you do it. The interactions you have with the guys in the locker room. The smiles you get to put on a fan’s face. The feeling of competing. That’s why you do this.”

So to be clear, he plans on continuing to play football next year, wherever that may be?

“Yeah, definitely,’’ he said.

Bridgewater said after he suffered his head injury during the third quarter of the Broncos’ 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, he and the Denver medical and football decision makers discussed how to proceed for the rest of the season “given that I had a concussion earlier this year.” He was concussed on the final offensive play of the first half in the Broncos’ game four loss to Baltimore and didn’t return for the second half. 

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

He played the following week at Pittsburgh. But it's fair to suggest Bridgewater's best play this season was through the first three games -- against weak opponents to be sure but also before his first concussion.

After the head blow while slamming into the ground in game 14 against the Bengals, Bridgewater did not play in the next two, and, after he was put on injured reserve Thursday, he won't play in the finale Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Drew Lock, who has mostly played well in defeat the past two games, will get his third and final start of the season.

“Drew has fallen in love for the game again,’’ Bridgewater said. “Oftentimes I was in the same situation before where not starting (meant it took a while) for me to find that love, that joy for the game, again.

"From our conversations, he’s having fun out there. You love to see it. He’s matured in so many ways. You see him protect the ball and things like that. I’m excited that all his hard work throughout this year is now on display and he’s just going out there and getting a chance to compete.’’

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) heads to the locker room following an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. The Steelers won 27-19. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

RELATED: Bridgewater's season officially finished; 13 Bronco players come off COVID list

Bridgewater replaced Lock as the team’s starting quarterback out of training camp and finished with decent numbers in his first (and likely only) season for the Broncos – a 7-7 record, 18 touchdown passes against only 7 interceptions, a 66.9 completion percentage and 3,052 passing yards. His 94.9 passer rating was the best by a Broncos’ quarterback since Peyton Manning’s 101.5 in 2014.

"I just think Teddy's an NFL starting quarterback that has great intangibles and great qualities that you can't coach,'' said head coach Vic Fangio. 

“There’s some moments you’re proud, there’s some moments you’re not so proud,’’ Bridgewater said. “Everyone feels that way throughout the league. Even the guys who are playing the best football.

"I’ll look back a couple weeks from now and do some self-evaluating and self-scout on myself and write down a lot of notes. Some of the things I was pleased with, some of the things I want to work on this offseason, how I can be a better player in this league.”

Bridgewater was the first offensive player to capture the Darrent Williams Award since its inception in 2007. He and Justin Simmons, who won the award three of the previous four seasons, were the top two contestants. Simmons became the first recipient of the Demaryius Thomas MVP award.

Perhaps, what put Bridgewater over the Good Guy top was his admission he should have done more to slow down Darius Slay during the Eagle cornerback’s fumble return for a touchdown in a disheartening Game 10 home loss.

“Just being accountable. Holding yourself accountable, holding your teammates accountable. It goes a long way,’’ Bridgewater said. “I’m honored to receive this award. Glad I was able to relay the message from the team to the fans and across the organization each week. We have a great group here. Great coaching staff. This organization is first class. The players in this organization are first class. I’m honored I’m the first offensive player to receive this award and very appreciative.”

RELATED: Former Broncos defensive coordinator Greg Robinson passes away

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