Jets Redskins Football

New York Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) smiles on the sidelines during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ORG XMIT: OTKAB

The key elements of the Drew Brees mythos are almost as famous in New Orleans as the man himself.

A schoolboy star from one of the nation's most fertile recruiting hotbeds, spurned by his state's flagship schools. Forced to play at a school that comes in somewhere south of a traditional powerhouse, he played his way into the Heisman conversation and lifted the program along with him, only to find out the NFL was more worried about his size than his production. 

All of those slights produced a chip on his shoulder big enough to bring him back from an injury that could have ended his career.

Know who else fits that description?

Teddy Bridgewater.

Not every detail fits perfectly, because no two humans are exactly alike.

But all the elements are there.

Brees went undefeated in 29 games as a starter at Austin Westlake, a burgeoning Texas high school power. Bridgewater took Miami Northwestern, another legendary program to the state semifinals.

Both quarterbacks found themselves snubbed in one way or another in the recruiting process. Brees was famously passed over by both Texas, Texas A&M and most of the rest of the country.

Bridgewater had a little more freedom to choose. A four-star prospect who was ranked the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country, Bridgewater got offers from a lot of power programs — including LSU — but Florida recruited him as a wide receiver, the path a lot of programs wanted him to take.

Bridgewater, convinced he was a quarterback, spent most of the process committed to a down-on-its-luck Miami during the Randy Shannon era, then jumped to a Louisville team bouncing back from the Steve Kragthorpe era under Charlie Strong after Shannon was fired. 

Brees and Bridgewater lifted both Purdue and Louisville to new heights, only to see their games picked apart when they entered the NFL draft. 

A lot of the criticisms were the same. Brees was knocked for his height and his lack of arm strength; Bridgewater is two inches taller than Brees — still not tall enough to fit NFL prototypes — but got knocked for his thin frame, and his perceived lack of arm strength created concerns. Both quarterbacks were also hit for completing a lot of short and intermediate throws in college, even though the NFL passing game has been populated with more and more of those throws as teams get more efficient. 

For those reasons, both quarterbacks had to wait until the 32nd pick to hear their names called on draft day. 

But hints of what might make Brees and Bridgewater successful in the NFL were also written in those scouting reports. Both players are highly competitive, obsessively driven athletes who soak up information like a sponge; both were highly accurate in college and played with the toughness needed to take an NFL pounding.

Offered early chances to start in San Diego and Minnesota, respectively, Brees and Bridgewater led their teams to the playoffs early in their careers.

Then tragedy struck. At the end of the 2005 season, Brees famously dislocated his throwing shoulder and tore his labrum. Bridgewater's injury was worse; the former Vikings quarterback suffered a dislocated knee and tore all but one ligament in the joint, according to ESPN, an injury that took more than one season to heal.  

For a while, the NFL wondered if both quarterbacks would ever be able to play again, and the teams that drafted Brees and Bridgewater decided to let them leave and pursue their comebacks elsewhere while they went with options that required more investment.

New Orleans might end up being the site of third-act redemption for both. 

An origin story only becomes important if it sets up the legend; Brees' story is household information because of the Hall of Fame career that followed once he suited up with the Saints. 

Bridgewater's ending still has to be written. After a promising preseason in New York, Bridgewater has shown enough potential to earn a chance, to prove that all of that competitive fire, intelligence and accuracy is enough to overcome incredible adversity, the way Brees already has. 

But Bridgewater is only on a one-year deal, and if he's anything like Brees, the Saints' new quarterback isn't going to want to wait around to prove everybody wrong again. 

Whether or not this familiar tale ends up playing out the same way in New Orleans again might depend on how much of the original story remains to be told.


Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.