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Moments after losing a red zone fumble and dropping a touchdown pass, respectively, second-year Broncos Albert Okwuegbunam and KJ Hamler received sideline pep talks from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Shortly after he fell to the turf with an aggravated ankle injury, outside linebacker Bradley Chubb looked up and saw Bridgewater, who left the bench, offering support.D
During or after every quarterback meeting, any player who wants to go over any aspect of the game plan finds a willing partner in Bridgewater.
“He knows what it takes; he’s seen what it takes,” running back Melvin Gordon said.
And what this Broncos offense, in a five-year slump and young throughout the depth chart, has needed is Bridgewater’s steady play/work ethic and consistent voice.
Businesses worldwide participate in “Ted Talks.” The Broncos, 2-0 entering Sunday’s home opener against the New York Jets, have “Teddy Talks.”
Bridgewater’s tone is low-octave and high-impact. The message: It is all about the team and winning.
“Dialogue and little conversations are my ways of trying to lead,” he said.
That approach has resonated.
“Just a fun-loving, very cool, calm, collected guy and he just wants to win games,” receiver Tim Patrick said.
Unwavering. Consistent. Real.
“I try to play with conviction and be the best version of myself that I can be,” Bridgewater said.
Are leaders born or made?
“It’s a combination of both,” said Jeff Janssen, president of the Janssen Sports Leadership Group in Cary, N.C., which offers consulting services to college and high school coaches and athletes. “Leaders have certain personality traits and skills, but it can definitely be developed and enhanced.”
Janssen earned a master’s in sports psychology from Arizona and has written multiple books about leadership and culture. His company conducts surveys with coaches and players to self- and peer-evaluate leadership skills and then delivers recommendations for improvement.
“(Leadership) is one of those intangible factors that determines who wins championships and who doesn’t,” Janssen said in a phone interview. “Certainly the X’s and O’s are critical and drafting and free agency are important, but if you don’t have the respected leaders echoing what the coaches are saying and keeping that high standard, you’re going to struggle. Leadership within the team is absolutely critical.”
Quarterback is the NFL’s most critical position and the Broncos have spent the past five years searching for the right player. Seeking a veteran passer to compete with Drew Lock and potentially guide a young group of players, general manager George Paton flipped a sixth-round pick to Carolina in April for Bridgewater.
The numbers through two games say he was a steal: Bridgewater’s 120.7 passer rating is sixth in the league.
The youth of the offense, six key players under the age of 24, makes Bridgewater’s approach — encouraging instead of ear-piercing — a perfect fit.
“This generation definitely responds to people who respect them vs. trying to yell at them and put them into their place,” Janssen said. “It’s a same-level, peer-to-peer respect and less of a command-and-control, my-way-or-the-highway approach that was probably more prevalent 20-30 years ago.”
Said Broncos quarterbacks coach Mike Shula: “We’re a young team offensively so that (approach) is beneficial for us.”
Also beneficial: Early success. Bridgewater likely clinched the job with a sharp preseason start at Seattle. He was named the starter four days later. He has followed that up by completing 54 of 70 passes for 592 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the first two games.
Wins equal stature, stature equals a growing respect.
“Definitely an important aspect,” Janssen said. “That’s one of the primary litmus tests — is the guy getting it done on the field? If he is showing those signs early, a lot more people are going to buy into his leadership a whole lot quicker.”
Shawn Watson saw it right away.
An early enrollee, Bridgewater participated in Louisville’s 2011 spring football season and took the reins of the second-team offense.
He was 18.
“That’s fast for a player to be asked to go out and perform at a high level,” said Watson, who was Bridgewater’s play-caller for nearly all of his college career. “He really legitimized our No. 2 offense against what was becoming a very good No. 1 defense.”
As Bridgewater became the starter early in his true freshman year, he started to carry the leadership flag.
“Teddy was the center of attention,” said Watson, now the quarterbacks coach at Northern Iowa. “He’s not a jokester, but he can be a fun guy and all the kids gravitated toward him because of how they saw him work every day.”
A first-round draft pick by the Vikings in 2014, Bridgewater became the starter in Week 4. His leading receiver, Greg Jennings, was nine years older, top rusher Matt Asiata five years older and three of his offensive linemen at least six years older.
“I was kind of forced (to lead) early in my career,” Bridgewater said. “I watched (the veterans) and how they were true pros and how guys really embraced them and their presence.”
Bridgewater’s knee injury in 2016 ended his Vikings’ starting career and he moved onto the New York Jets, New Orleans and Carolina. During his two years with the Saints, Bridgewater observed All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees up close.
“It could be eight of us in the locker room laughing and joking and if Brees walked down the hallway, everyone put on a series face and then when he walked by, the conversation continued,” Bridgewater said with a smile.
Long before he was named the Broncos’ starter on Aug. 25, Bridgewater began forming relationships and displaying an in-charge presence.
“Teddy has had some great guys to learn from and looking at older players and how they handle themselves with the highs and lows with the players, with the media, with everybody in the building and on game-day,” Shula said.
Shula has worked with quarterbacks such as Trent Dilfer (Tampa Bay), Jay Fiedler (Miami), David Garrard (Carolina) and Cam Newton (Carolina). He said Bridgewater is “probably more” like Fiedler and Garrard and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bob Griese, who played for Shula’s dad, Don, with the Dolphins.
The Broncos’ first quarterback meeting of Week 3 was at 8 a.m. Wednesday, but Bridgewater, Lock and practice squad member Brett Rypien had already spent hours at the facility studying coordinator Pat Shurmur’s game plan. What fans see on television of Bridgewater is what Shula sees in the meeting room.
“Very quiet; you don’t see a lot of emotion out of Teddy,” he said. “You can tell he’s dialed in.”
As a young player, he was dialed in on how the Vikings’ veterans handled themselves, the same when he was Brees’ back-up.
“He’s a genuine guy,” said Washington Football Team offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who was Bridgewater’s quarterbacks coach in Minnesota for three years. “He doesn’t try to put up a front and try to be somebody else. People gravitate toward him and there is a confidence that comes from that.”
ST. LOUIS – The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s is back this year. The goal is not just to raise awareness about the disease but to also to raise funds for research.
The walk is happening at the Enterprise Center beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
So far, the Alzheimer’s Association has raised more than $800,000, not too far away from reaching its goal of $1.3 million.
This progressive disease affects millions of Americans. In fact, the CDC says in 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease.
The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. That number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.
During the walk you’ll see people carrying flowers of different colors, each color representing the person’s connection to the disease.
A purple flower is for those who have lost a someone to the disease. A yellow flower represents someone who is currently supporting or caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s.
Registration for the walk is at 7:30 a.m. There will be a ceremony at 9:15 and the walk begins at 9:30 a.m.
ST. LOUIS – Art historians are calling it the holy grail of a find, a rare work of art found in a St. Louis front yard. What looked like a lawn ornament is now headed to a museum in New York.
It’s a sculpture of two sisters that sat in the front yard of a St. Louis home that’s been on quite a journey. First rediscovered in 2019 by a gentleman named John Foster, an art historian.
For years the sculpture entitled “Martha and Mary” sat on a bench in the city of St. Louis before an art historian saw it while out on a stroll.
“That didn’t look like the commonly seen concrete lawn ornament that we are used to seeing,” said Valerie Rousseau, senior curator American Folk Art Museum & Exhibition chair.
Sally Bliss had inherited this Martha and Mary sculpture, and it sat outside her home in New York when she was a ballet dancer. Years later after her first husband died, she moved to St. Louis when she met her second husband, Jim Connette.
“I had it and put it out in my garden in Long Island, which was our main house, and brought it with me and put it on the bench,” Bliss said.
“I knew it was valuable. But I knew that nobody would steal it because it looked like it was part of the bench and would be really difficult to pick up that bench and steal the whole thing.”
This lawn sculpture was originally made by artist William Edmondson, the famed black sculptor from Nashville, Tennessee.
The ‘two sisters’ sculpture had been featured at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937 in New York and later Paris, France.
Today, William Edmondson is considered a preeminent black sculptor, although he didn’t start sculpting until 1934 when he was 60 years old, and only made 300 sculptures over the course of 15 years.
Using limestone from demolished buildings.
“Like most museums, we have to have supporters to acquire such artwork,” Rousseau said. “Prices for Edmundson sculptures can be $350,000 to $800,000.”
And after some conversations and a cleaning, Martha and Mary are headed back to New York. This time, the sculpture will be the centerpiece of the American Museum of Folk Art. Debuting this January on the celebration of the museum’s 60th year.
Thanks to the generosity of a man named Brian Donnelly, this sculpture and its wild ride of a story will reside in the Big Apple.
“I was sad,” Bliss said. “But I knew that this was the right place for it to go and especially to New York and so many people will see it and he will get his due and to me, that’s more important than me having to be sad because I’m losing that work of art.”
Do you know what the problem is for people who quit jobs? It’s the timing. People tend to wait too long, then quit all of a sudden, leaving themselves with a pile of unfinished business.
Sometimes that business is emotional, with workers’ feelings of being unappreciated accumulating to a toxic level by the time they exit. There’s usually some unfinished business in the job itself, and in the worker’s career as well, not to mention the feeling of being unprepared personally or financially.
Which brings us back to timing: What’s with that pattern of staying too long and suddenly exiting? For one thing, it’s usually a difficult decision. Most people will delay the real or perceived conflict of quitting for as long as they can, opting to adapt to difficult situations instead.
Others may not recognize that their sense of discontent in life may be rooted in a job that no longer challenges them. If the job itself is reasonable, it’s easy to disregard the nibbling sense that something doesn’t quite fit.
And others may just prefer the known downsides of the current job over the potential (but unknown) upsides of a new position.
Regardless of the reasons for a delay, the truth is, most people eventually do leave their jobs and you probably will too. If you’re near the end of your career, the leave-taking might be through retirement or illness, but otherwise you’re likely to quit for reasons that range from new employment to business startup to just needing time off.
Once you acknowledge that fact, you can take more control of the timing. Instead of disregarding the mounting discontent until you can’t take any more, you can plan steps and processes to follow. Whether these unfold over the course of weeks or years is up to you – which is exactly the point.
To help you organize those steps, last week’s column provided five things to do in your current job before quitting. Today we’ll look at five things to do in your personal finances, and next week’s column will finish the series with a look at five things to do in your career before stepping out the door.
Organize (or pay down) your debt. It’s a rare person who doesn’t have debt, whether that’s a mortgage, car loan, student loan, credit cards, or a combination of all of these. The reason to review these accounts while you’re working is three-fold: One, what you discover may influence your timing; two, if you want to make a major purchase, that will be easier while you’re still working; and three, strategies such as refinancing your mortgage to achieve lower payments will be more difficult after you quit.
This step holds true even if you’re quitting to start a new job, because longevity in your position is often considered in lending decisions. And it’s a hundred times more true if you’re quitting to start a business — one of the most difficult positions from which to re-organize one’s debt.
Retirement accounts. Decisions to roll over a 401(k), to set up a new retirement account, or to convert an IRA to a Roth are all things best considered before quitting, while you have the most options available.
Health insurance. You don’t need to be reminded, but just in case: Be sure you know what health insurance options will be available after you leave your job. If any steps can be handled now, you’ll appreciate not having that burden later, when the timing could be more critical.
Take your sick days. Speaking of health … have you used your sick time? Those days have been set aside for you to use in taking care of your health, so now’s the time to schedule your preventative care. This is especially smart if your sick days are “use it or lose it” in terms of payout.
Figure out your cash flow. If you’re taking another job, this step may be built-in, since you’ve already negotiated your next salary. But if you’re leaving without another source of income, you’ll enjoy the getaway more if there’s gas in the car. Don’t just assume that your savings will cover you. Make a decision about how much of your savings you’re willing to spend before you need a new income source.
If all of these personal finance steps are starting to kill your enthusiasm for quitting, don’t worry. You’ll get your motivation back next week when you review the steps to take in your career to ensure a good transition.
Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at [email protected]
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