The untold truth of Terry Bradshaw

Gridiron legend Terry Bradshaw led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl victories during his NFL heyday in the 1970s, yet the star athlete’s fame extended far beyond football. In fact, early in his NFL career, Bradshaw demonstrated a knack for show business, which led to appearances in several TV shows and movies, ranging from the star-studded race caper The Cannonball Run to playing Matthew McConaughey’s father in 2006 rom-com Failure to Launch

After ending his NFL career, Bradshaw carved out a whole new vocation as a football analyst, with his Fox Sports bio noting that he’s been a part of Fox NFL Sunday since its launch in 1994. “I love my job,” he declared in a 2011 interview with AARP. “I love the people I work with. It’s a great gig, man, talking about something you love, having fun and entertaining the masses.

Given the fact that he’s been a celebrity for a half-century, fans can be excused for thinking they know all there is to know about the multi-talented athlete-turned-broadcaster. However, there’s a lot to learn by reading on and discovering the untold truth of Terry Bradshaw.

A coin flip led Terry Bradshaw to the Pittsburgh Steelers

After playing college football for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Terry Bradshaw became the first player picked in the 1970 NFL draft — which proved to be a big surprise to the player himself. “I thought I would go in the third or fourth round,” Bradshaw said in an interview for the Pittsburgh Steelers website. However, team owner Dan Rooney won a coin flip with the Chicago Bears, and Bradshaw was his first pick. 

Bradshaw was anticipating he’d be drafted by the New Orleans Saints, and admitted he was less than enthused to be scooped up by the Steelers, who were coming off an abysmal season. “It didn’t mean that much,” he said of being drafted. “I was coming here to the worst team in the NFL, which wasn’t good.”

Unbeknownst to Bradshaw, his father had received a call from the Bears, who were trying to make a trade for him. The Steelers, however, refused to give him up. “It was just mumble jumble to me,” said Bradshaw of his laissez-faire attitude at the time. “You figure out what you are going to do and I am going to go fishing.”

He turned his 'immaculate reception' into a holiday poem

Arguably the most memorable moment in Terry Bradshaw’s NFL career came during 1972’s AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium, thanks to a still-controversial play nicknamed the “immaculate reception.” With 22 seconds left on the clock, recalled the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Steelers were behind 7-6 at the 40-yard line; team founder Art Rooney was already on his way to the locker room to console the players.

Suddenly, Bradshaw snapped the ball to John “Frenchy” Fuqua. Chaos ensued when Fuqua was slammed by Raiders safety Jack Tatum, with the football flying sideways and into the hands of Steelers running back Franco Harris, who ran it across the line. But did the football hit the ground? Did Fuqua bat it to Harris? Those questions remain unanswered, although officials at the time ultimately ruled it a game-winning touchdown.

Decades later, Bradshaw used his “immaculate reception” as the basis for a holiday poem modeled after ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, reciting the verses to a group of children in a video. “Was it first touched by Frenchy? Did the ball hit the grass?” he asks. “We still do not know, and four decades have passed.”

Terry Bradshaw had a country hit back in the '70s

While Terry Bradshaw established himself as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, during the late 1970s he was also making inroads into showbiz. Per IMDb, he made his screen debut in Burt Reynolds’ 1978 movie Hooper, then appeared in the Reynolds-starring The Cannonball Run, followed by a TV movie spinning off his Cannonball Run character, Stockers (all three projects, not coincidentally, were helmed by director Hal Needham).

During this same era, Bradshaw was also trying to establish himself as a country music star. This led to the release of his first LP, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, in 1976. According to Billboard, the title track — his cover of the Hank Williams classic — peaked at No. 17 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. His 1980 followup album, Until You, did not do as well. That album’s title track never rose higher than No. 73.

Bradshaw didn’t return to the studio for three decades until he recorded his holiday single, Lights of Louisiana, in 2012. “It’s a flashback song that makes you think about your home, and when I do, I think happy thoughts,” he told Billboard.

His huge financial error was actually a smart move

During a conversation with MarketWatch, Terry Bradshaw was asked if he’d ever made any costly financial errors. “I lost $900,000 in real estate right when the recession hit,” the NFL star revealed, but insisted that $900K loss was actually a smart move. 

“I was heavily invested, about 13 million bucks to be exact,” Bradshaw admitted, noting that what he was seeing take place in the markets at the time was making him “kind of sick to [his] stomach.” As a result, he decided to get out of those deals. “In three days, I sold all of my property in Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico,” he said, losing nearly a million dollars in the process.

Despite the loss, Bradshaw said he was later vindicated when he “got a call from Merrill Lynch.” Recalling the phone conversation, the Louisiana native revealed, “[They told] me that’s the smartest investment decision I had ever made because the recession was about to come. I lost a lot, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Terry Bradshaw buys and flips private jets

In an interview with MarketWatch, Terry Bradshaw made an unexpected revelation: he buys and flips private jets the way Flip or Flop‘s Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead flip houses. In fact, he declared that planes are the one thing that he doesn’t hesitate spending money on. 

“I buy a lot of planes, I’ve owned a lot of jets,” he explained but added that it’s imperative that the jets be used for business purposes. “You have to be smart when you buy one,” he said. “Then I learned how to flip a plane. I learned how long to use it and when you need to move it.” According to Bradshaw, he’s been flipping jets for “a long time,” and the high cost doesn’t concern him. “You spend four or five million bucks and it might scare the heck out of you, but not me.”

Flipping planes, he said, is simply one more way he’s followed the advice his father gave him when he was a young man making big money for the first time. “My father always told me to invest in things that I know,” recalled Bradshaw.

The NFL star suffered memory loss from his career

Terry Bradshaw suffered at least six concussions throughout his football career, and in 2011 he was becoming concerned about the short-term memory loss he’d been experiencing. Penning an essay on the Fox Sports website, Bradshaw opened up about his memory decline. “Toward the end of last season on the Fox pregame show, maybe the last six weeks, I really started to forget things,” he explained. “That’s why I quit reciting statistics because I couldn’t remember them exactly.”

In 2013, he shared a followup about his condition to USA Today. “I couldn’t focus and remember things,” he said. “I was frustrated I couldn’t remember stuff, and I got real upset. It was driving me nuts. I got tested to see what condition my brain is in. And it’s not in real good shape.”

As a result, he started doing puzzles to improve his memory and playing ping pong in order to improve his hand-eye coordination. “I know what I have to do to maintain… without worrying all the time, making myself feel worse,” he explained. “It’s not the end of the world, but it’s something I have to stay on top of now.”

Terry Bradshaw doesn't think Tom Brady is the GOAT

There’s been much discussion in sports circles about whether former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the greatest QB in NFL history, an argument backed up by his record-setting six Super Bowl rings. That opinion, however, is not shared by Terry Bradshaw. “I don’t think he’s the greatest quarterback of all-time,” Bradshaw said during an interview with Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan radio. “He may be the best quarterback we’ve had in the last 30 years. Is he better than [Roger] Staubach? No. Is he better than Dan Fouts? No. Dan Marino? No. I’m talking talent-wise when you’re putting all of it together.”

Bradshaw chalked up his viewpoint to “a lot of things,” but zeroed in on “all this soap operas [sic] going on between him and [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick.”

As CBS Sports pointed out, there are inherent problems when comparing quarterbacks from different eras. Had Bradshaw been playing during Brady’s time, CBS Sports guessed he’d likely make 30 touchdowns each season. On the flip side, if Brady had played during Bradshaw’s era in the 1970s, “his statistics would not come close to the numbers he put up with the Patriots.”

He enlisted his family for a TV reality show

Terry Bradshaw has been a constant presence on television since the 1970s, first as an NFL quarterback, then as actor/celebrity and, more recently, as a football analyst. In early 2020, Bradshaw revealed a new television project that would showcase a different side of his personality: The Bradshaw Bunch, a reality show for the E! Network following his family life with wife Tammy and three grown daughters, Rachel, Lacey, and Erin.

“I’m excited and a little nervous to let the world see the crazy life I share with Tammy and our girls,” Bradshaw told E! News of his foray into reality television. “I never know what will happen next around here between Rachel, Lacey and Erin… I thought winning four Super Bowls was hard, but it’s nothing compared to having three girls.”

A teaser for the series indicates there’s a lot of laughter in the Bradshaw household. In one brief scene, the former NFL great learns that one of his daughters underwent some plastic surgery. “Do we need to pray?” asks his wife. Bradshaw opens his Bible and implores, “Dear Lord, give me the strength to talk to Erin about her boob job.”

Terry Bradshaw admitted to using steroids… kind of

Terry Bradshaw made headlines back in 2008 when he appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and revealed he once took steroids while playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported, Bradshaw said that back in his day, NFL players were expected to suck it up and hit the field even if they’d been injured. “If you could walk and halfway talk, you played,” he told host Dan Patrick. “We took shots, got shot up. We did steroids to get rid of aches and speed up the healing.”

He insisted, however, that anytime he took steroids, it was always under the care of a doctor. “It was to speed up the healing process, and that was it. I never took those things on my own.”

He later appeared at a news conference (via Daily News) and clarified that he wasn’t taking the kind of steroids everyone had assumed he was discussing, anabolic steroids, but corticosteroid injections to speed recovery from injuries. “I’m not bodybuilding here,” Bradshaw joked. “They were not those kind of steroids. They were anti-inflammatories.”

Terry Bradshaw has a Las Vegas lounge act

Following his admittedly limited success as a wannabe country singer back in the 1970s, several decades later, Terry Bradshaw decided to unleash his musical prowess once again. This time, however, he took his act on stage by developing a live musical review.

In 2013, the former QB debuted the first iteration of his one-man show, initially called America’s Favorite Dumb Blonde… A Life in Four Quarters. As KDKA2 CBS Pittsburgh reported at the time, Bradshaw combined music with anecdotes about “growing up in Louisiana, his football days, three marriages, and a stint as a toupee model.”

Over the next few years, Bradshaw continued to refine the act — which eventually came to be called The Terry Bradshaw Show – but admitted audiences were confused about what to expect. “People don’t know me as a singer, so they probably thought: Is it comical or what? Now years later, we’re still trying to convince people about the show,” he told NJ.com in 2019 ahead of a stint in Atlantic City. “I sing and I think that throws them for a loop because they don’t know that I can sing. They have no reason to know.”

His first Vegas performance was 'petrifying'

Even a four-time Super Bowl champion, veteran public speaker, and longtime TV sports analyst is not immune to stage fright. Speaking with Las Vegas Magazine in 2019, Bradshaw admitted that hitting the stage for his very first Vegas show was nothing short of “petrifying.” As he revealed, he made his entrance from an elevator “that came up through the floor with smoke going everywhere,” and suddenly saw 2,200 people looking back at him. Admitting it was “nerve-wracking,” he recalled thinking, “How am I gonna remember all of this show?”

He also discussed how the performance had evolved from that first show. In addition to ditching the original title, he revealed that the renamed The Terry Bradshaw Show featured more songs and less dialogue, noting he and his producer had “edited it down to 70 minutes.”

In an interview with NJ.com, Bradshaw admitted that he had become quite tickled to wind up as a stage performer so late in life. “At 71, I’m now a rising… whatever. Rising star!” he said with a laugh. “It’s a lot of fun.” While he may not be on the level of Britney Spears’ iconic Las Vegas residency, Bradshaw is still just having a blast.

Terry Bradshaw launched his own brand of bourbon

In February 2020, Terry Bradshaw launched his own booze brand, Bradshaw Bourbon. “There’s just nothing better than a fireplace, two fingers of Bourbon, a great cigar and Pavarotti playing in the background,” he said in a press release available on the label’s website. “I’ve always appreciated a good bourbon, and now I’ll be enjoying my own!” The bourbon has been “blended from the finest grains and aged in hand-selected barrels,” and as his website writes, is “worthy of a nod from a true champion.”

Entering the lucrative celeb-branded spirits market was another example of Bradshaw following his father’s advice to invest in things that he knows about. I got into bourbon because I love bourbon,” he told MarketWatch, “but my preacher doesn’t know that I drink bourbon.”

According to the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, Bradshaw Bourbon is produced by the O.Z. Tyler Distillery of Owensboro, Kentucky. “It’s a two-year-old bourbon that we produce for Terry,” said O.Z. Tyler’s master distiller Jacob Call of the liquor. Hey, perhaps someday, Bradshaw’s brand of bourbon will be as lucrative as the celeb-owned Casamigos tequila — which George Clooney sold for a whopping $1 billion.

He had to apologize for a racially insensitive remark

In 2019, Terry Bradshaw was one of the celebrities to compete on Fox variety show The Masked Singer. Bradshaw referenced his experience on the show while on stage at that year’s network upfronts, and it did not go well. Describing his experience on the show, reported USA Today, Bradshaw confused judge Robin Thicke for the “Blurred Lines” singer’s late father when he joked that he’d been “kicked off by Alan Thicke and the little short guy from Japan.” Bradshaw was referring to comedian Ken Jeong, another of the show’s judges (Jeong, by the way, was born in Detroit, son of immigrants who came from South Korea, not Japan).

The comment no doubt rankled enough people that Bradshaw caught some blowback. That was evident when he later issued the following apology: “I made an insensitive remark today about Ken, who I’ve known for some time,” Bradshaw announced to USA Today through a statement. “I’ve spoken to him about the importance of cultural respect and apologized for my offensive comments. I would like to also apologize to the Asian-American community for my insensitivity.”

Terry Bradshaw recorded a quarantine-themed song

Count Terry Bradshaw among the millions of people who self-quarantined during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. And, like many, Bradshaw also admitted to becoming stir-crazy while under his self-imposed lockdown. However, the celeb drew some musical inspiration from self-isolation, and the result was a new country single, “Quarantine Crazy.”  

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Bradshaw explained the song’s premise. According to the former NFL star, his tune tells the story of a family man with a knack for offering one excuse after another for why he didn’t have time to spend with his family — and suddenly has no more excuses. “Now he’s quarantined and he has to spend time with them,” he dished.

So, how exactly did the track come to be? As it turns out, Bradshaw credits his wife, Tammy, for providing the song’s idea and its title. As he recalled, he was on the phone with a friend, sportswriter Buddy Martin, when, out of the blue, she exclaimed, “Terry! I’m going quarantine crazy.” According to Bradshaw,  he responded, “‘Quarantine crazy? Hey, that’s a country song title.’ I said, ‘Buddy, I’ll call you back.'” The rest, as they say, was history.

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