Ever since he came to prominence as the Pittsburgh Steelers' first pick in the 1970 NFL draft, Terry Bradshaw has had to live down being stereotyped as just a big, dumb jock. Before one championship game, Dallas Cowboy linebacker Thomas Henderson joked that the now--Hall of Fame quarterback couldn't spell cat even if he was spotted the c and the a. Today, three decades, four Super Bowl rings, five best-selling books and one Emmy later, Bradshaw, 56, is having the last laugh.
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Ever since he came to prominence as the Pittsburgh Steelers' first pick in the 1970 NFL draft, Terry Bradshaw has had to live down being stereotyped as just a big, dumb jock. Before one championship game, Dallas Cowboy linebacker Thomas Henderson joked that the now--Hall of Fame quarterback couldn't spell cat even if he was spotted the c and the a. Today, three decades, four Super Bowl rings, five best-selling books and one Emmy later, Bradshaw, 56, is having the last laugh. The Shreveport, Louisiana, native has had one of the most prolific post-retirement careers this side of Charles Barkley, not only as a TV commentator on the popular Fox NFL Sunday pregame show, but as a country-music artist and an actor in such movies as The Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit II. On the eve of the 39th pigskin classic, TONY phoned the good ol' boy to tackle football, with a couple of downfield runs involving armadillos and ADD.
Who is the real Terry Bradshaw—the TV analyst or the pro QB?
Definitely the show reflects me. As a player, you're not out on the field hee-hawing, acting silly and crazy, and having all the fun. But that's just who I am. I'm a high-energy guy, like, "Let's go, let's get it done. Let's have some fun." I know people feed off of it. [Yelling] I'm a funny white boy! That's what they told me on the show.
It's probably your Louisiana upbringing.
I just found out this year that arma-dilla is the other white meat—so, yeah.
Have you actually eaten armadillo?
You've never had armadilla, man? You haven't lived. Hey, it tastes just like chicken. You ever had rattlesnake? It tastes just like chicken. You ever had buffalo? [Laughs] Everything tastes like chicken.
Do you think Fox has revamped football coverage?
Fox has definitely brought a new energy to the NFL. We went to an hour when people said nobody wanted to watch and listen for an hour. We brought the entertainment value: We brought the weather girl. We brought the comedy. No disrespect to ESPN, but we don't have 90 minutes to sit there and talk about stats and stuff.
Right, why would anyone want to listen to that?
And we get criticized for it. Still, the ratings are phenomenal. We appeal to the hip crowd, to women. At least, [Fox NFL Sunday cohost] Howie Long does.
You don't think you have any female fans?
Chicks dig me. No question about that. I can get a date—I'm a hottie tomattie. Although the e-mails have been coming in, "Dude, shave that goatee off, you look old." [Laughs]
Speaking of hair, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss grew an Afro for luck, but his team lost early in the playoffs. You have four Super Bowl rings and a smooth landing strip—does that mean there's an advantage to being bald?
Well, I'd like to have the hair and the Super Bowls, but there aren't many bald-headed quarterbacks out there. Myself, Jim Kelly's getting there and Y.A. Tittle. That's it. It's a good point. I never thought about the hair issue.
Who did you want to see in the Super Bowl?
My heart was picking the Steelers. And then, Philadelphia.
Maybe you should have been rooting for the Patriots, because if the Steelers had gone all the way, Ben Roethlisberger might have ruined your legacy.
That's so petty. It's been 30 years since my first Super Bowl win, 25 since the last one. I really am not that concerned about things like that. I'm so comfortable in my skin as a player and broadcaster.
There weren't many black quarterbacks when you were playing; now there's Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper...
There's no reason why this couldn't have been going on 50 years ago. It's just that the NFL wasn't ready to have black quarterbacks in a leadership role. Our society wasn't. Everything that's happening today is a reflection of our society and laws and rules and people finally waking up and realizing the prejudice and racism...if anybody can throw it and they've got football intelligence, they will be drafted and given an opportunity to try it. So that's good.
What's the craziest thing you've done to celebrate a Super Bowl victory?
I didn't do a thing, man; I never was a party guy. Normally I had a headache and went back to my room and my family. Calling the game and being in the stress of winning the Super Bowl—I was exhausted.
Your struggles with ADD and depression are well known. Before you were diagnosed, what would happen to you?
Depression? Oh man, that's hard for me to describe. I got tired of not feeling good about my life and was curious about why I was not seeing the bright side of things and always quietly sad. I just got extremely curious as to why nothing pleased me, and then my wife left me for another man, so hell—that'll get your attention.
How did you regain control of your life?
The depression thing was something that was diagnosed by a psychiatrist after going through my preacher and a psychologist. After trying several different drugs, I eventually ended up on Paxil CR. So that's what I've been taking for a few years now. ADD—I had that testing done 18, 19 years ago. It's a great combination, ADD and depression. [Yells] Hell, I got it together. [Laughs] In the grand scheme of things, though, I'm happy now. That's the bottom line.