An Interview with Terry Bradshaw
By Aaron Little
The 700 Club
Hall of fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl Championships in the 1970’s. You recognize him today as one of the hosts of the Fox network’s NFL Sunday program. Scott Ross sat down with this football legend to discuss the role that faith has played in his life.
Terry Bradshaw was the first pick in the 1970 NFL draft. The future looked bright for the small town Louisiana boy. But his rookie year in Pittsburgh was challenging.
Terry: You have to understand, I got hammered pretty good by the media. They called me stupid. They called me dumb. That’s pretty powerful.
Scott: What? Why? Because you’re from Louisiana?
Terry: Yeah, cause I talk like this a little bit. And you know, I don’t talk like that no more. And I was just a good old Southern kid. I was a nice guy, but, if you talked like this - and I threw a lot of interceptions my rookie year. And this one guy said, ‘well, he can’t read defenses, so therefore he’s got to be stupid.’ The image thing hurt. I didn’t trust people. I didn’t like ‘em. I didn’t like ‘em, I didn’t like going around the city. I don’t like stickin’ my head out. People weren’t nice to me and I understand that. But, at the same time, when we did start winning, Scott, I never allowed myself to be accepted because I remember how painful it was for five years.
Scott: Did attitudes change once you started winning?
Terry: Oh sure. I mean, of course they do.
Scott: Now you’re smart.
Terry: Yeah, I’m the smartest thing that ever played the game.
Scott: Boy, the fickleness of fame.
Terry: Hey listen Scott, It was not easy. I remember many a night sitting in my apartment, and you know, just praying to God he’d just get me out of here.
Scott: Literally prayed to God?
Terry: Just get me out of here.
Scott: Out of the game? Didn’t want to play anymore?
Terry: Just get me out of here.
It wasn’t just the media that hounded Terry. He wasn’t used to the pressures of a big time NFL quarterback and eventually he slipped into depression.
Terry: You have to understand, now, I’m a momma’s boy. I’m from the south. My way of being raised is totally different than the big city life. I truly was a country boy. [It’s] a whole new world up there; went to a small school. And so, I had a hard time. I was not used to criticism. And I did not respond well to the way my coach treated me. I didn’t respond well to a firm hand and insults.
Scott: The depression got how bad for you?
Terry: Well, you know, I didn’t know I was depressed until years later. Actually, I went to the Minirth-Meier Clinic for ADD. I got tested for ADD. So, that’s nice. It’s nice to know you got ADD. So, that puts you on medication. Did that for years. Then got tested for clinical depression. So, finally when they tell you this, you go, ‘ahhh, this is great.’ So, now this explains events in your life and how you handle them. But our society frowns on it and they don’t want their heroes to have these issues, but unfortunately I do.
Scott: And you plowed through what, three marriages?
Terry: Well that’s one of the problems as a Christian, is that we have to deal with our failures and the shame of it all. And I had to figure out that it’s OK for me to fail, but I don’t want to be judged by you. And my friends, my friends back then judged me and were harsh with me.
Scott: You mean your Christian friends?
Terry: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And, I had a hard time with that. I had a real hard time with it. And it ran me off, I got so angry with them.
Scott: From the Christians and God and everything?
Terry: Exactly, yeah, yeah that whole thing. It wasn’t until ten years ago, Father’s Day, that I really got saved. I mean, I had one of those great, wonderful, salvation moments in my life. It was one of those moments that I knew that God’s spirit had moved into my heart, and into my life and had grabbed and taken control of me, and you know what? I couldn’t, I couldn’t escape it. Because I learned that God forgave me.
Scott: Yeah he did.
Terry: See, now you may not. And they may not.
Scott: Now don’t do that to me.
Terry: I’m using you, you’re my object. You’re my object.
Scott: Thank you very much. You’re a lot bigger than me.
Terry: You’re my object. But I know for a fact that God has forgiven me. And you know what?
Scott: I forgive you, man, I mean…
Terry: Thank you. So I had to forgive myself.
Terry: I’m not ashamed of who I am.
Scott: Nor should you be.
Terry: Or my personality. And when the depression thing came out, everyone says, well how can you be depressed, you’re such a funny guy? But depression doesn’t rob you of your personality. I actually was with my ex-wife, soon to be ex-wife, who had called the preacher. And we went from the front porch of my house, over to the barn, because that’s where I was living at the time.
Scott: In a barn?
Terry: In a barn.
Scott: Jesus was born in a stable, that’s good.
Terry: That is good. Yeah, it was.
Scott: So, I mean, you prayed?
Terry: I was lead through the sinner’s prayer. It was pretty powerful.
Scott: How’d it change you?
Terry: Well, what it did was it consumed me. It consumed me. And it still does.
Scott: How’s that?
Terry: Just everything that I’ve done, everything that I do, is to this day, all major decisions are all through prayer; all my actions, although a sinner, but you know what? I’m cool with that. C’mon, I’m fine with that.
Scott: Isn’t that what grace is all about?
Terry: I think so. You know, I know me and I know my heart. I know what the Lord expects. I know what a Christian’s supposed to act like, but you can’t act it.
Scott: Sure you can.
Terry: But, do you really believe it?
Scott: Well, that’s hypocrisy if you don’t.
Terry: Exactly, exactly. And I know I believe it. And that makes me feel good.
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