I’ve never been one to be super emotionally invested in decisions college athletes make about their futures. It’s already weird to me that a large portion of my happiness depends upon how well or not well a bunch 18-23-year-olds play a sport. When the likes of Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings left after their sophomore seasons to test the NBA waters, I thought that was pretty silly, but wished them the best of luck anyway and figured that the worst-case scenario was that they would end up playing ball in Europe. There have only been two U of L players where I’ve genuinely anticipated the announcement of their decision. One was last year, when rumors circulated that Russ Smith would forego his senior season and enter the NBA draft, even though he wasn’t projected to be a first-round pick. Luckily, Russ decided to stay, but now U of L fans are in the same emotional dilemma with Teddy Bridgewater.
Teddy and Russ’ situations are exceptionally different. Teddy has been projected as a top-three pick, if not the No.1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Also, it seems as though football fans all over the country, not just U of L fans, are collectively holding their breath until he makes an official announcement about his future. Jacksonville Jaguar fans even wrote Teddy a goodbye song when they started winning, thus making them unlikely to get the No. 1 pick. He’s supposedly not going to make his decision until after the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28. Meanwhile, everyone is analyzing the actions of a 21-year-old most of us have never met, as if our immediate well-being hinges on whether or not he’ll become a millionaire in a few months or next year.
Like I said, I don’t typically like to speculate too much about these sorts of things, but I honestly hope Teddy enters the draft. He’s ready; Russ wasn’t. Teddy has already finished his education a year-and-a-half ahead of schedule, becoming the first person in his family to earn a college degree. If he came back next year, it would be solely to play football for Charlie Strong in the ACC. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If Teddy decided to return to U of L, I would be absolutely psyched, but it would be a selfish type of excitement.
I’m the most paranoid person on the planet, so of course all the horrible “what-ifs” that could happen if Teddy stays have plagued my brain. What if he gets injured? What if U of L chokes against its elite competition and his draft stock goes down? What if he quits football and becomes a magician? Of course, those things could very well not happen, and Teddy could have an incredible senior season, be a front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy (again) and win another BCS bowl game.
Teddy’s gonna do what Teddy’s gonna do. And whatever he does, it’ll be the right thing for him. He’s already one of the most legendary players to ever go through the U of L football program, so if he returns to school, great, he’ll become even more legendary. If not, that’s also great. He’ll financially change his mother’s life and has the potential to have a professional career comparable to Johnny Unitas. We still have at least one more game with Teddy as a Cardinal, so let’s cherish that while we still can.