|Terry Bradshaw played 14 seasons with the
Pittsburgh Steelers. He is currently a football analyst and co-host
of Fox NFL Sunday. In a six-year span, he won four Super Bowl titles
and 1979), becoming the first quarterback to do so, and led the Steelers
to eight AFC Central championships. He was inducted into the Pro Football
Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility.
A tough competitor, Bradshaw had a powerful – albeit at times
erratic – arm and called his own plays throughout his football
career. His physical skills and on-the-field leadership played a
major role in Pittsburgh Steelers history. During his career, he
passed for more than 300 yards in a game only seven times, but three
of those performances came in the post-season, and two of those in
Super Bowls. In four career Super Bowl appearances he passed for
932 yards and 9 touchdowns, both Super Bowl records at the time of
his retirement. In 19 postseason games he completed 261 passes for
Terry Bradshaw was born in Shreveport, Louisiana,
the second of three sons of Bill and Novis Bradshaw. He attended
School and led the Knights to the 1965 AAA High School Championship
game where they lost to the Sulphur Tors 12-9. While at Woodlawn,
he set a national record for throwing the javelin 245 feet. His exploits
earned him a spot in the Sports Illustrated feature Faces In The
Bradshaw decided to attend Louisiana Tech University in Ruston,
Louisiana. He has much affinity for his alma mater. He was a member
of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He was active in the Fellowship
of Christian Athletes and spoke before many athletic banquets and
In 1969, he was considered by most pro scouts to be the most outstanding
college football player. As a junior, he amassed 2,890 total yards,
ranking #1 in the NCAA, and led his team to a 9-2 record and a 33-13
win over Akron in the Rice Bowl. In his senior season, he gained
2,314 yards, ranking third in the NCAA, and led his team to an 8-2
record. His decrease in production was mainly because his team played
only ten games that year, and he was taken out of several games in
the second half because his team had built up a huge lead. As quarterback,
Bradshaw threw his passes principally to teammates Larry C. Brewer
(1948–2003) of Minden, the offensive end, and Thomas Allen "Tommy" Spinks
(1948–2007), the split end who had also been Bradshaw's Woodlawn
High School teammate. As a result, Brewer and Spinks were recorded
among the top pass receivers in Louisiana Tech history. In 1996,
Bradshaw was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Terry Bradshaw was the first player selected
in the 1970 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers; the Steelers drew
the first pick in the
draft after winning a coin flip tiebreaker with the Chicago Bears
due to both teams having identical 1-13 records in 1969. (It should
be noted, though, that by modern NFL tiebreaking rules, the Steelers
would have automatically been awarded the pick anyway since the Bears'
one win came against the Steelers in Week 8. The coin toss is now
the last of seven tiebreaking options to determining draft position,
which has yet to be used on the number one pick. In either case,
Bradshaw was hailed at the time as the consensus number one pick,
regardless of which team drafted him.
Bradshaw became a starter one year after he was drafted in 1970.
During his first several seasons, the 6'3", 215 lb. quarterback
was erratic, threw many interceptions (he threw 210 interceptions
over the course of his career) and was widely ridiculed by the media
for his rural roots and perceived lack of intelligence.
It took Bradshaw a few seasons to adjust to the pro game but once
he did, he eventually became the premier quarterback in the NFL,
leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to eight AFC Central championships
and an unprecedented collection of Super
Bowl rings. The Pittsburgh
Steelers featured the "Steel
Curtain" defense and a powerful
running attack led by Franco Harris, but Bradshaw's strong arm gave
them the threat of the deep pass, helping to loosen opposing defenses.
In 1972, he threw the pass leading to the "Immaculate
among the most famous plays in NFL history.
Bradshaw temporarily lost the starting job to Joe Gilliam in 1974,
but Bradshaw took over again during the regular season and in the
1974 AFC Championship Game against the Oakland Raiders, his fourth-quarter
touchdown pass to Lynn Swann proved to be the winning score in a
24-13 victory. In the Steelers’ 16-6 Super
Bowl IX victory
over the Minnesota Vikings that followed, Bradshaw completed 9 of
14 passes and his fourth-quarter touchdown pass put the game out
of reach and helped take the Steelers to their first Super Bowl victory.
Bradshaw acknowledged in his first autobiography, Man of Steel,
that by 1974, he felt as if he was bottoming out. His first marriage
to Melissa Babich had failed, his shoulder had been injured, and
he was often sullen and depressed. The turnaround came when, according
to his memoir, Bradshaw, already a born-again Christian, had a revelation: "I
had separated myself from God. I lived only for Terry Bradshaw, not
for God. I tried to be one of the boys and went to every honky-tonk
I could find and chased women and behaved in a way that was totally
alien to anything I had ever known before … my whole life was
out of control … I was trying to be someone else and was doing
a rotten job of it."
What happened to Bradshaw amounted to a second "conversion" experience. "I
just put my head in my hands and began to cry and tremble all over
and finally I blurted out, 'Here I am, God. I've tried to handle
it all by myself and I just can't get the job done. So I'm placing
my life in Your hands. I need some peace of mind and I know You can
give it to me.'" The quarterback recalls feeling suddenly "stronger
mentally and physically.… Being a starting quarterback didn't
matter.… What mattered was that I was myself again and I was
determined to stay that way."
In Super Bowl X following the 1975 season, Bradshaw threw for 209
yards, most of them to Lynn Swann, as the Steelers beat the Dallas
Cowboys, 21-17. His 64-yard touchdown pass to Swann (that travelled
roughly 70 yards in the air)-- which was released a split-second
before defensive tackle Larry Cole flattened him causing a serious
concussion—late in the fourth quarter is considered one of
the greatest passes in NFL history.
Neck and wrist injuries in 1976 forced Bradshaw to miss four games.
He was sharp in a 40-14 victory over the Baltimore Colts, completing
14 of 18 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, but the Steelers'
hopes of a three-peat ended with a 24-7 loss to Oakland in the AFC
Bradshaw had his finest season in 1978 when he was named the NFL's
Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press after a season in which
he completed 207 of 368 passes for 2,915 yards and a league-leading
28 touchdown passes. He was also named All-Pro and All-AFC that year.
Before Super Bowl XIII, a Steelers-Cowboys rematch, Cowboys linebacker
Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson famously ridiculed Bradshaw
by saying, "He couldn't spell 'Cat' if you spotted him the 'c'
and the 'a'." Bradshaw got his revenge by winning the Most Valuable
Player award, completing 17 of 30 passes for a then-record 318 yards
and four touchdowns in a 35-31 win. Years later, Henderson, who struggled
for years to conquer drug addiction, admitted he was high on cocaine
at the time of the interview. Bradshaw has in later years made light
of the ridicule with quips such as "it's football, not rocket
Bradshaw won his second straight Super Bowl MVP in 1979 in Super
Bowl XIV. He passed for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 31-19 win
over the Los Angeles Rams. Bradshaw also shared the Sports Illustrated
magazine's "Sportsmen of the Year" award with Willie Stargell
After two seasons of missing the playoffs, Bradshaw played through
pain — he needed a cortisone shot before every game because
of an elbow injury sustained during training camp — in a strike-shortened
1982 NFL season. He still managed to tie for the most touchdown passes
in the league with 17. In a 31-28 playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers,
Bradshaw's last postseason game, he completed 28-of-39 passes for
325 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
After undergoing offseason elbow surgery, Bradshaw was idle for
the first 14 games of the 1983 NFL season. Then on December 10 against
the New York Jets, he felt a pop in his elbow while throwing his
final pass, a ten yard touchdown to Calvin Sweeney in the second
quarter of the Steelers' 34-7 win. Bradshaw later left the game and
never played again. The two touchdowns Bradshaw threw in what would
be the final NFL game played at Shea Stadium (and the last NFL game
in New York City to date) allowed him to finish his career with two
more touchdowns (212) than interceptions (210) for his career. In
his 14-season career, Bradshaw completed 2,025 of 3,901 passes for
27,989 yards and 212 touchdowns. He also rushed 444 times for 2,257
yards and 32 touchdowns. He was 107-51 as the starting quarterback
and the Steelers reached the playoffs 10 times. His career postseason
record as a starter was 14-5. He was also selected to play in three
Pro Bowl games.
While the Steelers no longer officially retire uniform numbers (with
the exception of Ernie Stautner's #70), they have not reissued Bradshaw's
#12 since he retired, and it is generally understood that no Steeler
will wear that number again.
In 1999, he was ranked number 44 on The Sporting News' list of the
100 Greatest Football Players.