Bradshaw: 'That is why we played'

Legends Spotlight: Terry Bradshaw

It's a trip he hasn't made often, coming back to Pittsburgh to be around his former teammates, to talk about the great times with the Steelers. But when Terry Bradshaw, the Steelers' four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback returned to Pittsburgh recently, he realized it's a trip that has been too long in the making.

"When we have special moments and events that bring us together, you realize why we were so good, the friendships that we had and how much fun we had together," said Bradshaw. "You realize how much we truly loved and cared about one another. That's the one thing you miss. The championships do tend to fade, but the friendships with a lot the players that you were with to accomplish this great goal, not all are still alive, but a number are."

Bradshaw, the Steelers Hall of Fame quarterback who is now a co-host on FOX's NFL Sunday, knows it was that time with the Steelers that was the foundation for everything else that would come in life for him.

"Everything that I have ever accomplished or been a part of since I retired has come because of playing for this team, not just playing but winning," said Bradshaw. "You are identified for the rest of your life as a Pittsburgh Steelers championship winning quarterback. Every job I have gotten is because of the Steelers. Every network television job is because of the Steelers. I don't dodge it. I am proud of it. Thank God I played here and thank God we assembled such an awesome group of men together to win so many championships.

"I am proud of the fact that everywhere I go in this country everybody knows me because of the championship years in Pittsburgh. Everything I have I am very proud to acknowledge and not ashamed to say is because of what we accomplished here in this great city."

His relationship with Art Rooney Sr., the Steelers' founder, is something that still brings a smile to his face and gets him talking about the 'good old days.'

"I would go in and visit with him all of the time," said Bradshaw. "We talked horses. I lost a bet to him on a horse race and I owed him a dollar and I put it in the fingers of a statue in his office. Somebody told me that dollar is still there. You had to have a relationship, a close relationship, to have something like that happen. I was fortunate to have been a player under his ownership and to see how a man who was so humble, who had no idea how much he was upheld in the NFL circles. He was so humble. I used to go over to his house and watch Monday Night Football. I used to go over to his house and eat dinner with him. We had a really special connection. He was a good man. A really good man."

Bradshaw also weighed in on a variety of other topics, and honestly wore his emotions on his sleeve, getting chocked up at times, in this exclusive interview:

When you look back at what you accomplished in your career, what stands out?
"The only things professionally are the Super Bowls because that is why we played, to be champions. From the professional standpoint, it was winning. They were important to the city because the city hadn't had a winning championship team ever. To give Mr. (Art) Rooney his first title in Super Bowl IX, and to parlay it into three more, was pretty special."

Did you take a lot of pride in bringing the four titles to Pittsburgh?
"Number one you are proud of yourself, which you should be. I was proud to know I was a part of this, to bring Pittsburgh its first championship. You are proud of your owner, Art Rooney. You are proud of your coach and the coaching staff. You are proud of the players. It stays so much in house first. Then it explodes to the city. It's centralized number one, then everybody is enjoying it. The people that put us together, the people that are paying our salaries, the people that coached us and all of us that depended on each other, there was your initial pride factor.

"Just being selfish, I was proud of myself. I was proud of all I had overcome, all I had done to accomplish that. I reveled in that. It's very short lived, though, when it's just personal. It becomes long lived when you are 67 years old and it has this powerful long meaning of how many years ago. It never has evaporated."

Do you have any regrets?
"I have got lots of regrets. I wish I had gone to Mr. Rooney's funeral. I couldn't go to Chuck's funeral and got hammered for it. I am not a funeral guy. I had trouble going to my dad's funeral. I wish I would have handled the media better. I wish I would have been more mature about a lot of things. Of all of the things, I wish I would have never been labeled dumb. I am 67 years old and still to this day it really burns me good. Nobody else called their own plays. I called my own plays. Then when you defend yourself, it's arrogance. You don't want to do that. The dumb thing is the one thing that really chaps me. That is one huge regret. You can't undo it. I have had fun with it. I played with it. I played off of it. This city is a great place, a great place to play football. It's an awesome place to be a professional football player. I am proud of that."

What was it like to see Art Rooney Sr. with the Super Bowl trophy for the first time?
"I have been on record as saying the most exciting moment was right after when they presented the Vince Lombardi trophy to Mr. Rooney. We were all gathered around. It's nothing like it is today. We are talking Super Bowl IX. Just a couple of people were there. The players. It was in the locker room. It wasn't out on the field like we do it today. To see a humble man, a worthy man, a man that was so beloved in this city. He deserved it. I don't think anybody deserves anything. You earn it in life. But I think the consensus was around the NFL that if there was a family that deserved to have a moment in life it was Mr. Rooney.

"When we won that Super Bowl, he called me in the offseason and said you made me a big shot. I am all over Ireland traveling and everyone was honoring him. He said you made me a big shot. I enjoyed being a part of making him a big shot. I was proud that he trusted me enough with a key to his office and a key to his humidor where I could go and get cigars for all of the players who wanted good cigars."

Who had the biggest impact on your career?
"The biggest impact on my professional career probably would have been the guys I was around. Chuck Noll was tough. He was tough on me. He had various impacts. He had an impact in the sense that I could have very easily quit. He pushed so hard and demanded of me what people didn't know. I didn't really like him because I was a guy that is a mama's boy. I went to Louisiana Tech and they loved me and loved on me. I flourish under love, not under an iron fist. Chuck was an iron fist and we butted heads over that. I learned about defenses. I learned under Chuck that I could take it. That was crucial. I could handle the big moment and not panic.

"Babe Parilli was my one and only quarterback coach. I didn't have an offensive coordinator or quarterback coach. One year I had Babe Pirelli and he did to me what they did to me in college. He picked me up and encouraged me. I flourished under his knowledge because he played so many years in the NFL and shared it. Babe Parilli is someone whose name is never mentioned.

"Then I would say the most wonderful thing that had the impact was one of the greatest defenses in the history of the National Football League. That will make any quarterback's job easy. And we had without question one of the greatest in the history of the NFL. Secondly I thought the job they did in drafting Franco (Harris), (Mike) Webster, (Rocky) Bleier, (John) Stallworth and (Lynn) Swann. I don't care who you are, how talented you are. You have to have talented people around you to be successful.

"It's a combination of Babe Pirelli, definitely Chuck Noll, the defenses that were the cornerstone of our championships, most of them anyone. And the drafting of this incredible team. It was almost that God anointed this city this special time, this special moment from 1970 to it's still going on in 2016. This city has been so blessed since 1972 to have an outstanding National Football League team who has won Super Bowls after us. Who has had players who have been as good, and better than us. But it all started in 1972 and it was the anointing that has made this city so special and appreciative of the Steelers."

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