Terry Bradshaw Biography

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Birth Name: Terry Bradshaw
Born: 09/02/1948
Birth Place: Shreveport, Louisiana, USA

Born Terry Paxton Bradshaw on Sept. 2, 1948 in Shreveport, LA, he was the second of three sons born to Bill and Novis Bradshaw. While attending Woodlawn High School he led his team to a state football championship game before making a name for himself as an All-American selection during his time at Louisiana Technical University. The number one pick in the 1970 NFL draft, Bradshaw's early career as quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers proved to be rockier than expected. His on-field performances were often erratic, punctuated by a high percentage of interceptions. Not helping matters was the perception - perpetuated in the press - that Bradshaw was little more than a country bumpkin of less than impressive intelligence. Things began to change during the 1972 season, most memorably with the historic game-winning "immaculate reception" thrown to fullback Franco Harris in the AFC divisional playoff game versus the Oakland Raiders. During his 14-year NFL career as a Pittsburgh Steeler, he led the team to eight straight playoff appearances (1972-79), including six AFC Championship Games and four Super Bowl victories. Noted for his "big game" prowess and powerful throwing arm, Bradshaw completed 49 of 84 pass attempts in his four Super Bowl performances, throwing nine touchdowns and only three interceptions. The unanimous choice for Most Valuable Player in Super Bowls XIII and XIV, Bradshaw held dozens of league and team records by the time he retired from the game.

Even before the end of his career in football, the playful and charming Bradshaw entertained more artistic aspirations. A lifelong music fan, he recorded several country and gospel albums, beginning with 1976's I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, the title track of which earned him a spot on the country music charts. Employing his unique brand of down-home charisma, Bradshaw appeared in the Hal Needham-directed Burt Reynolds movies "Hooper" (1978), "Smoky and the Bandit II" (1980) and "The Cannonball Run" (1981), all of which proved to be commercial hits. Bradshaw, who by then had sustained numerous injuries, including a devastating concussion late in Super Bowl X, retired from professional football just prior to the 1984 season. Having already served as a guest commentator for post-season games on CBS prior to his retirement, the former quarterback soon signed with the network as an NFL game analyst in 1984, where he proved a popular and surprisingly astute personality. Appropriately, Bradshaw was entered into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility. After earning his stripes with six years of part-time work, he was promoted to studio commentator on "The NFL Today" (CBS, 1975- ), alongside Greg Gumbel in 1990.

When CBS' broadcasting rights with the National Football League expired, Bradshaw went to work as co-host and analyst for "Fox NFL Sunday" (1994- ), where he enjoyed a rambunctious camaraderie with fellow hosts and football veterans Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson. Despite his outwardly happy-go-lucky demeanor, Bradshaw's personal life was not always as free and easy as it might have appeared. Struggling with a growing drinking problem, mood swings and weight loss, Bradshaw was eventually diagnosed as being clinically depressed in the months following his divorce from his third wife in 1999. On the advice of his doctor, he began taking the anti-depressant Paxil and later spoke openly about the disease and the treatments available to those who suffer from it in silence. The former NFL player also became involved with the increasingly popular motorsport NASCAR when he joined the FitzBradshaw Racing team in 2001. Early that year, while preparing for Fox's coverage of the Daytona 500, Bradshaw spent time with racing legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr., filming a humorous segment for the broadcast and visiting the driver's family later that afternoon. Tragically, Earnhardt died in a horrific crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500 the next day. Bradshaw was the honorary starter for the race.

On a brighter note for 2001, Bradshaw - once taunted by an opponent who sniped that the quarterback "couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the 'c' and the 'a'" - released his second book as a published author with the memoir It's Only a Game, in which he regaled readers with tales of his glory (and not so glorious) days in football. Later that year, he also became the first professional athlete to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition to dozens of television appearances over the decades - both as himself and in character - Bradshaw added more film credits to his résumé, with voice work on the animated comedy "Robots" (2005) and a turn as Matthew McConaughey's father, opposite Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates, in "Failure to Launch" (2006). Other endeavors included nation-wide engagements as a motivational speaker. Always a candid interview subject, Bradshaw told talk show host Dan Patrick during a 2008 interview that while he did use steroids during his professional career, they were corticosteroid injections, not anabolic steroids. Used to accelerate healing and quicken recuperation time, it was not on the NFL's list of banned substances.

By Bryce Coleman