The boots are made of elephant skin. They are almost pure white and in the middle, where they shelter his shins, there is a big black number 12 made from the bellies of a lot of little lizards. Terry Bradshaw lifts the boots up on the coffee table and leans back on the crimson soft velvet couch. “Sometimes,” he says, tilting his suede Stetson back on his balding blond head, “I worry about comin’ off like a dime-store cowboy.”
And with that, Terry Bradshaw, who, at the age of 31, makes about a quarter of a million dollars a year for throwing a football very straight and very hard, starts plunking his $75 guitar. “Y’all join in if you know the words,” he tells his two city-slicker guests. He sings alone:
“‘The heart is a funny thing with a mind all its own. It withers like a garden left unattended and alone. And the thorns of loneliness invade and destroy what they can’t steal. So easy to hurt. But oh so hard to heal.’”
He looks out of place here, his back to a full-length picture window of this sooty steel town of Pittsburgh, a sullen city where the air is grayish brown, the rivers polluted by tiny tugs and the hills alive with the sound of belching smokestacks.
Here, in this unlikely city of champions, the most valuable player in the single most important game in sports sits still in his 17th-floor apartment overlooking the Monongahela River and rests from a long day of hard practice. The stadium where 50,000 fans cheer him is just over his right shoulder, not more than a fly pattern away.
He is sharing the apartment with a dog named Sugar. His wife, known to most people as JoJo Starbuck, the ice skater, is on a nationwide tour for a noodle-soup company. His folks are down home on his ranch in Louisiana, right near where, as a child, he hopped up the hills and slid down the slop.
Bradshaw grew like a Louisiana weed, to over 6’3″ and 200 pounds. When he finished at Louisiana Tech, a neighborhood college he went to because he didn’t think he was good enough to make it at the bigger schools, the people who scout and tout for pro football were calling him the next Joe Namath, a country kid with an arm like a howitzer. They thought so much of him that he was the number-one pick from the college crop that year. But that was a decade ago.
It didn’t come easy for Bradshaw. He came to a team that had played 14 games the year before and won one of them. Many people thought that, as a new quarterback playing in a new stadium, Bradshaw would immediately turn things around for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But that wasn’t the case.
“Bradshaw may have a lot in common with this stadium,” owner Art Rooney said that first year. “He’ll be beautiful—when he’s finished.”
Bradshaw played erratically those early years. He was an occasional hero and a frequent goat. Some of his frustrated teammates complained very loudly that he called dumb plays. Dumb was a label that would be picked up by the press and branded on Bradshaw. The country bumpkin. Li’l Abner in football shoes.
It all started to get to him, that and a bad marriage to a teenage beauty queen. By 1974, he had lost his starting quarterback job to a black player who, it was later revealed, was a heroin addict. But he kept believing in himself and, most of all, he kept the faith. He became an avid Christian, a belief that would come to rule his very being, a persuasion that would help him pull himself up by Tony Lama’s bootstraps, win back his starting role and take his team to the Super Bowl that year.
His victory over the Minnesota Vikings would lead to consecutive conquests of the Dallas Cowboys. In January 1979, Bradshaw would lead his team to victory in a game that many called the greatest Super Bowl ever. And, in the greatest of games, he’d be named the best player.
But the problems were not over. His three-year-old marriage to JoJo was almost sacked. She wanted to pursue her career, he wanted her to stay at home. Only their faith kept them together. (He has since published two ghostwritten books attesting to that faith.) There is evidence of that all over their Pittsburgh home. Prominent among all the game-winning footballs and trophies are drawings of Jesus and simply stated prayers. Like the one in the kitchen that gives the recipe for a happy marriage. The biggest ingredient listed is “one gallon of faith in God and each other.”
As Bradshaw answered his detractors by leading the Steelers to another probable Super Bowl this year, a lot of questions remained about his life both on and off the field. To get the answers, Playboy sent Maury Z. Levy andSamantha Stevenson to talk with America’s latest football hero. Levy and Stevenson had just finished a bout with Pete Rose for last September’s “Playboy Interview.” This time, their subject wasn’t hostile. The three of them got along very well. The interview sessions turned into marathons of singing and talk about philosophy and football. Bradshaw related immediately to Stevenson, herself a newborn Christian. It took longer with Levy, a once-born Jew. Levy reports:
“Terry’s biggest concern was not to offend me when he talked about his Christianity. Once I assured him that I had a good alibi for the Crucifixion, we became fast friends.
“It quickly became clear that Bradshaw was one of the most honest, down-to-earth people I’d ever worked with. That first day, when we left the stadium to head to his apartment, we walked out to a parking lot full of Caddies and Corvettes. Terry walked by them all as we climbed into his Ford Bronco wagon.
“Once we got to know each other, he shared more than just his thoughts with me. We wear about the same size in athletic shoes and shirts, and he insisted on giving me some of them to take home. We finally settled on a trade. He gave me a pair of white Spaldings. I took him a pair of blue-and-green Ponys. ‘The ugliest guldarn shoes I’ve ever seen, he said, accepting them graciously.
“Our talks were somewhat scattered. Once, we stopped to go down to the lobby of his apartment building so he could throw some footballs at me. I still have the black-and-blue marks on my chest. That lesson finished, we went back up so Terry could give me some even more important instruction. He didn’t want me to leave until I’d learned all the words to ‘ Amazing Grace.’ Samantha went into the kitchen to make us dinner while he did that. He wasn’t worried about her. She already knew the words.” Stevenson reports:
“I think Terry felt more comfortable explaining his faith to me. It was our mutual faith that allowed me to push him on some of the harder questions—like who is Jesus Christ and how could he help him throw a touchdown pass?
“To be a touchdown hero in my book, you have to really be something extraordinary. I grew up around professional football players and learned early on what most people never realize: that they are very human. And Terry Bradshaw was one of the most human of all those I’d met.
“My impressions of him were immediate. I thought he had a good heart and a great sense of humor. He kept telling JoJo on the phone that I was a Playboy Bunny. ‘Gor-gee-ous,’ he lusted. I’m afraid she believed him for a while.
“But through all the fun, we ended things on a very serious note. After baring his soul, Terry took my hands and we sat—knee to knee on the couch. ‘I’d like to pray about this,’ he said.
“And so we prayed together—both for a Steeler Super Bowl and for this interview. Terry prayed that the interview would come out funny, that he be shown to be intelligent and honest. He prayed that all people would understand. I said amen.”
PLAYBOY: Knowing your fundamentalist Christian background, we wonder why you agreed to do this interview.
BRADSHAW: Well, if Jesus were on earth today, he’d want to be interviewed by Playboy.
PLAYBOY: He would?
BRADSHAW: I don’t think Jesus ever shied down. And, as one of his children, neither should I. Jesus was for the people. He is for the people. And he was teaching and preaching to all the people. Murderers. The rich. The poor. You know. Everyone. And today, it would include people who read Playboy. He hasn’t spoken to me about it, but I know he would want to be in here. I had reservations about doing this. I told JoJo and JoJo was upset when I told her I was going to do this interview, but I said, “Hey, it’s an opportunity for me to witness to 22,000,000 people.” And she said, “You know you’re going to get asked every question.” I said, “I know that. I’m just going to answer as openly and honestly as I possibly can. And when I think it’s really controversial, I’ll just lie.” [Laughs]
PLAYBOY: Tell us something about your religious feelings before we move on to football. How did they start?
BRADSHAW: I found Christ. I sort of had a revelation.
PLAYBOY: When did you find him?
BRADSHAW: While I was watching Monday Night Football.
PLAYBOY: Are we talking about Christ or Howard Cosell?
BRADSHAW: I’m serious. I was watching Monday Night Football, but I had the volume turned down. And I was watching it, but I really wasn’t seeing it. There’s a song that talks about being with a person all your life, but finally one morning you roll over and look at her face to face—and you finally see her. This was kind of what happened with me and the Lord. I finally saw him. I was a Christian and I had fallen out of a relationship with the Lord. And this night in particular, he and I got reacquainted.
PLAYBOY: While you were watching Monday Night Football?
BRADSHAW: Right. I was watching it and tears were coming down my face.
PLAYBOY: You were by yourself?
PLAYBOY: In your apartment?
BRADSHAW: Right. And I said, “Jiminy Christmas, what is this? What’s with these tears?” I was embarrassed, but there was no one in there. So I kind of sat up and they just kept coming down.
PLAYBOY: It had nothing to do with the Monday Night Football game?
BRADSHAW: No. Nothing. And then it was like God was sitting in front of me and I was shakin’ on my knees. I said, “OK. I need You in my life to straighten me out. I can’t. I’ve tried to help myself and I messed it up. You’ve just got to take my life and straighten me up and help me get over this pain of not playing. Help me get over this hate and help me get myself back together again.”
PLAYBOY: Now what’s the most important thing in your life?
BRADSHAW: The most important thing? Well, used to be this profession that I’m in. Football used to be my god but no longer is. I still love it, I’m still aggressive, I still want to be very successful at it, I want to win a lot of football games. And my job is to be the best football player in the world, because it affords me a life; it pays, it’s my job, and so it hasn’t dulled my senses for the game or the love or the great excitement I get from the game. It’s just that I’m very much at peace with myself because of my faith.
PLAYBOY: But it must have changed your perspective of the game.
BRADSHAW: No. No. No. It shouldn’t have.
PLAYBOY: You don’t take it any less seriously?
BRADSHAW: I couldn’t play the game if I felt like this is not what the Lord wanted me to do. Everybody has to ask, “Is this what the Lord wants me to do?” Others ask, “Do I feel like it’s wrong for me to play a game that’s very rough and brutal and cruel?” But I don’t feel that way at all. I feel like I’ve been blessed with the ability to play quarterback and very proud to have been selected to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And I think I’m doing exactly what the Lord wants me to do at this point in my career.
PLAYBOY: When you say the Lord wanted you to be a quarterback——
BRADSHAW: That sounds corny, doesn’t it?
PLAYBOY: Maybe just hard to understand.
BRADSHAW: I don’t understand it myself.
PLAYBOY: Do you hear a voice, do you just know it in your soul?
BRADSHAW: It’s not easy to explain. You see, I’ve always thought about Jesus. There’s not hardly an hour that goes by that his face, or just the thought of him, doesn’t flash through my mind. I believe that there is a heaven. And I believe that the Bible teaches you that there is also a hell, a place that’s not so wonderful. So I want to be at the place that is good, and not because of the consequences. Not because if someone came up to me today, and I wasn’t a believer, and said, “If you’ll accept Jesus as your Savior, you’re going to go to heaven and, boy, it’s going to be great up there; you’ll live forever and forever and just have a blast. But if you don’t accept Jesus, you’re going to go to hell and you’re going to burn, boy, you’re just going to really be a mess. Now, which do you want to do?” “Well, I’m going to heaven.” “OK, brother, you’re saved.” “Hey, great.” Well, it’s not like that. It takes a long time to understand this feeling and it started with me as a young child in Bible school. And it builds up inside of you. If I told you that the bells rang and tears flowed down my face, that might not happen for you. But it could come while you’re driving the car or asleep, it can come any time, but you know it happens and it’s a tremendous feeling and I can’t explain it in words. I can’t. Any more than I can explain why I don’t have to concentrate on breathing. It just happens. It’s just amazing. It’s just one of the miracles in life.
PLAYBOY: It seems more and more athletes are turning to Christianity. At least more are talking about it.
BRADSHAW: Well, people aren’t ashamed to admit it anymore. Yeah, more and more closet Christians are coming out—it seems to be in vogue. And everybody’s just looking for answers. I think they’re finding out that Christ is the answer. I think they’re slowly finding out——Wait, I can’t see the TV. Ah, good. It looks like Southern Cal won.
PLAYBOY: Have you always led such a clean life?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, a clean life. Kind of a wholesome life. I didn’t booze and drink. And I wasn’t out whore hounding. You know, whoring around. I was pretty much a straight and what would be classified today as a square human being.
PLAYBOY: Did you come from a close family?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I’m crazy about my folks. They’re the most fun. And I love them to death. My family. My uncles are like brothers to me. We hug and kiss every time we see each other. That’s just the way I was brought up. I was lucky.
I was a kid who loved to play games. Any kind of game, any kind of ball. Give me a baseball, give me a basketball, give me something I can bounce and throw. Why? I don’t know why. Only the Lord knows why he picked me to be attracted to such a sport. But I was fascinated by it. I loved it.
PLAYBOY: Were you as open as a kid, or were you shy?
BRADSHAW: No. I was never shy. Well, I was shy as I got older. Because I was unsure of myself. When I was young, I was like most kids. Ah-la-la-la . . . who gives a hoot? I was a troublemaker.
PLAYBOY: You a troublemaker?
BRADSHAW: My mother says I was just into everything. I must have been a really tough kid to corral. I got disciplined quite frequently. I guess that would be the best way to say it. The rod, I wore out the rod. You know, Spare the rod and spoil the child? Well, I wore out the rod.
PLAYBOY: What was so special about growing up a country boy?
BRADSHAW: I could go barefooted and go fishin’ with my cousins and we dug our own earthworms. We made up our own poles, and then we fantasized we’d go fishin’ all the time and we’d go bird huntin’ with our slingshots and we’d play hide-and-go-seek and ride the horses and we’d steal watermelons and we’d run in the dirt and just have a ball. We’d play those pasture baseball games and it was just, it was a boy’s dream. Those were my happiest days. Plus, I love my cousins. We were eight, nine, ten, eleven years old, just out there having a hootin’, hollerin’ good time. My grandfather would come in the evening and we’d get on the truck and sit on the hood and ride it home and breathe and smell cow dung out in the fields. And steppin’ in it. You ever stepped in it with bare feet, playing hide-and-go-seek, or slide in it? Takin’ a bath in a number-two washtub?
PLAYBOY: Can’t say we have. It must be a strong memory for you.
BRADSHAW: There ain’t hardly a minute of it I don’t remember. And all the family was there. See, every Sunday, all the family would come and there’d be a huge cookout and they’d be frying chicken and makin’ pies and cakes and black-eyed peas and green beans and bacon and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, corn on the cob. And just everybody would be there and everybody would be eatin’ and havin’ a ball and, well, you see how excited I’m gettin’ just talking, I get louder and louder. And then we’d all go out and the men would play Rook, a card game, and they’d get tired of that and they’d want to play baseball with the kids and we’d all have a big baseball game and they’d all want to go fishin’ and we’d all get in the back of the truck and all go fishin’. These are all just great times in my life.
PLAYBOY: Can you draw on those memories, now, when you’re lonely?
BRADSHAW: That’s probably why I have my farm.
PLAYBOY: You didn’t even leave that part of the country when you went away to college, did you?
BRADSHAW: I went to a major power, Loosiana Tech. [Laughs]
PLAYBOY: Are you concerned at all about the fact that you pronounce your state incorrectly?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I know it. It’s Loo-easy-ana. I’m sorry. Thank you.
PLAYBOY: Are you having trouble keeping your Southern accent?
BRADSHAW: Well, sometimes [goes into a heavy country twang], y’all see, if I’m not real careful like, I’ll slip, but most of the time, it’s a troublesome thing not to be able to be around my kinfolk and all that kind of stuff. [Takes off his cowboy hat and runs his hand over his bald head]
PLAYBOY: Say, why do you wear a toupee?
BRADSHAW: Because the people, well, uh. . . .
BRADSHAW: ‘Cause I love it! I do like to wear it.
PLAYBOY: But you don’t wear it under your helmet. Just on commercials and things, to help you make money.
PLAYBOY: How do you keep it on?
BRADSHAW: Simple, just a clip. It’s easy. I wear it on all the TV shows and my public appearances, stuff like that.
PLAYBOY: Bring it out, let’s put it on.
BRADSHAW: [He gets up and goes to the bedroom to get the toupee] Don’t come in. I’ll just stick it on. Watch me change from an ordinary feller to one of the most brilliant people. Here I go.
PLAYBOY: Drum roll, please.
BRADSHAW: [Yelling from bedroom] Wow, I’ve changed already! Darned if I’da knowed I was going to be this perty. . . . [He walks in wearing the toupee and strikes a model's pose] Ready or not, here it is. This is what I used to look like before I lost my hair.
PLAYBOY: There is a significant difference. You must have had all the women chasing you—before.
PLAYBOY: Basically they did?
BRADSHAW: Basic quarterback sex symbol.
PLAYBOY: Isn’t bald supposed to be sexy?
BRADSHAW: That’s what my wife tells me. And I consider that a tremendous flattery, considering God overlooked me when He gave out looks.
PLAYBOY: Why did God overlook you?
BRADSHAW: He gave it to all my brothers. He overlooked me.
PLAYBOY: What is it about your family? They are all good athletes, aren’t they?
BRADSHAW: It’s gotta be the water. Who in the world would have any idea? I think it’s just in the water. My mother’s family are all great athletes. And I guess it just rubbed off. We were just going to be good athletes and maybe great athletes if we worked hard.
PLAYBOY: Is your mom a good athlete?
BRADSHAW: Mother? Excellent. Competitive.
PLAYBOY: What does she play?
BRADSHAW: Basketball, ping-pong, croquet, bowling. She’s tough, boy, she’s tough. She’s very aggressive. Very aggressive.
PLAYBOY: Now you have JoJo. By the time you have your children, they’re bound to be competitive athletes.
BRADSHAW: Well, you never know. It’s like crossing Secretariat with Ruffian. You may get a dud. I mean, I don’t mean to compare myself to Secretariat. Who knows what you get when you cross two athletes—professional athletes? Who knows? There’s no guarantees in the cards.
PLAYBOY: Do you think of yourself as a stud like Secretariat?
BRADSHAW: Oh, yeah. And JoJo’s a great skater and I’m sure if we make love, we’re going to have another fine champion.
PLAYBOY: If Jojo were sitting here, we bet she’d be turning red.
BRADSHAW: Oh, she’d be mad as a hornet. Off the record there, tape.
PLAYBOY: What did you read when you were a child? You did read, didn’t you?
BRADSHAW: Oh, shoot. I was heavy into Archie and Veronica. Donald Duck, Daffy.
PLAYBOY: Do you identify more with Archie or with Jughead?
PLAYBOY: Now, come on.
BRADSHAW: I never read that much. I didn’t like to read. Unfortunately. I’m not proud of that. I do like to read now, though, But——
PLAYBOY: What was the last book you read?
BRADSHAW: Ah. Well, heck. It was one of what’s-his-face’s articles, like The Bastard? What’s that guy’s name?
PLAYBOY: The Bicentennial series by John Jakes.
BRADSHAW: Yes. I read those. That was the last group of books I read. I don’t have much time. I read the Bible. I’m fascinated with that, but . . . I don’t read. I really don’t read that much. I read a lot of quarter-horse journals. I read a lot of agriculture, statistics stuff.
PLAYBOY: How did you fare in school?
BRADSHAW: I did well. I did very well. I was a good student. I never had to study that hard. Things came kind of easy. But I had too much energy. I couldn’t sit long enough. Even now, I can’t sit long. I’ve got too much going on. Either in my mind or outside, I can’t sit. I’m terrible. And I’m surprised I did as well as I did as a student. Normally, that’s not good or wholesome; it makes for bad study habits. But I pick things up and maintain them well enough that I didn’t have to sit down and break my brains.
PLAYBOY: Then how did you get the reputation for being the dumbest quarterback in the league?
BRADSHAW: That’s a good question. What happened was that in my growing pains as a quarterback, I made a lot of bad decisions. Which is only natural. And because there also were people who didn’t like me. I was funny, I enjoyed talking. I was big and strong and fast and had blond hair and stood for Mom and apple pie, and God bless America and I love God and I tote my Bible and I pray and I love Momma and Daddy. I was too good to be true. I’m sure it made a lot of people turn off. So the first chance they had an opportunity, they got me. The worst they could say was, “Obviously, the guy’s not very intelligent.” It’s probably the most ridiculous—sad—I can’t even think of a word to describe how ludicrous it was. You know? Man, if you can write your name, you’re not dumb. Plus, I talk like thii-iis. [Speaks in an exaggerated drawl] It was just a combination of several things. My own teammates would say, “He got in the huddle and changed the play.” Which is true, but, hey, I had a lot of pressure on me. I didn’t know the game. I was learning the game and I was wantin’ to do well and we weren’t that good a football team. And I was right in the middle of it and so I caught it.
It just started off by someone saying that that was a dumb thing to do and then the next guy heard it and I’m sure someone else heard him and said, “Well, Bradshaw called some dumb plays out there today.” It just kept popping up. Finally, when I lost my starting job, they said obviously it was because I was dumb. And there you have it.
PLAYBOY: Sports Illustrated called you——
BRADSHAW: Li’l Abner. Hot dang. Shut my mouth.
PLAYBOY: You’re shuckin’ us.
BRADSHAW: Hey, I’m enjoying this.
PLAYBOY: Football has made you rich. Does your wealth ever startle you? Do you feel rich?
BRADSHAW: Well, monetarily I don’t know what rich is. I feel rich in a lot of ways. I make a good living. But I don’t really make that much money. I do make a good amount of money compared to the average laborer. But, as compared to your superstars in baseball or basketball, you know, I’m nowhere near that bracket. I’m not even in the top ten or fifteen. But that’s not the point. The point is, I’m happy. And that’s the most important thing.
PLAYBOY: When you started making money, did you have problems knowing what to do with it?
BRADSHAW: I didn’t have any problems with it. I didn’t understand money and I probably did like most people that never had any—I bought a few things, but nothing extravagant. No houses or anything.
PLAYBOY: How about a car?
BRADSHAW: I bought a car and I bought my mother some nice furniture, because I wanted to. Outside of that, that was pretty much the end of my spending. Like I said, I wasn’t making big dollars.
PLAYBOY: Did you have an agent at the time?
BRADSHAW: I got approached by them, but I didn’t bite.
BRADSHAW: My dad and I talked it over and he decided that as the number-one draft choice in the country, we didn’t want to stir any traffic. We were scared an agent would be asking for a lot of money. And we wouldn’t be able to get it and there would be a contract hassle. And coming in new to the Steelers, we didn’t want that problem. We didn’t want to cause any trouble. So we felt like we could better negotiate with a local attorney than we could with an agent.
PLAYBOY: Were you satisfied with what you signed for?
BRADSHAW: Looking back on it, no. [Laughs]
PLAYBOY: Could we ask how much you signed for?
BRADSHAW: Sure, go ahead.
PLAYBOY: How much?
BRADSHAW: I’m not going to tell you.
PLAYBOY: More than $100 a week?
BRADSHAW: Barely. I was satisfied then. But I reflect back on it.
PLAYBOY: Do you get involved in negotiating now?
BRADSHAW: Oh, yeah. I’m very much involved in it.
PLAYBOY: Do you have any kind of setup with incentive clauses or achievement clauses?
BRADSHAW: Let’s don’t talk contract.
PLAYBOY: Why not? Why is that such a touchy issue?
BRADSHAW: Well, I think the primary reason is because kids coming out of school may say, “Well, Bradshaw was making X amount of dollars when he was a rookie and I want that because of inflation and what not.” Plus, there may be some players on the team that are making more or making less and may feel that it isn’t fair. So it just makes for unhealthy. . . . You know, there’s nothing so great about my contract that the world needs to know about it, anyway.
PLAYBOY: We’ll trust your judgment on that one. There are stories that you hated Pittsburgh when you arrived, especially when you were booed by fans. True?
BRADSHAW: No. No. Never hate. There was never any love lost between me and the city, but there was never any hate. Well . . . I can’t say that, because I’m sure that at the worst times in this city, I hated everything that had to do with it. That’s a sign of immaturity. Back then, it was a fly-off-the-handle judgment. Now I would analyze it very clearly before I’d become too wrapped up in it. One thing you learn very clearly about football is it’s a very fickle business and they’re with you when you win and they’re against you when you lose. You know it’s a must-win sport. And you just learn to live with it.
PLAYBOY: Do you learn to live with injuries, too?
BRADSHAW: Well, as soon as they take the pin out of my elbow and get the stitches off of the ribs, then I’ll be in pretty good shape.
PLAYBOY: Are you serious?
BRADSHAW: Other than the torn cartilage and the lacerated kneecap, I’m in super shape. Seriously, though, folks, if I were injured badly and thought it would jeopardize my career or my body—my life—I wouldn’t do it.
PLAYBOY: You wouldn’t get shot up to go into the game, would you?
BRADSHAW: Get shot up?
PLAYBOY: Would you take a drug, a pain-killer?
BRADSHAW: Not if it meant that . . . not if taking the shot was going to . . . no, I’d never do that.
PLAYBOY: You’ve never had shots before a game?
BRADSHAW: Oh, I’ve had shots. But nothing heavy.
PLAYBOY: Is your pain tolerance high?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I like to think it is. I’d like to think it is.
PLAYBOY: Did you feel the same way when you were younger?
BRADSHAW: I loved every part of it. I loved getting scratches and cuts and sprained fingers—anything that would show that I played football. I thought, Oh, look at me. Then I’d wrap them up, boy, real big, and go to school and all the girls would say, “Oh, you poor baby.” It was great.
PLAYBOY: Is there something special about a person who becomes a quarterback, as opposed to another position?
BRADSHAW: It used to be the person who was the best athlete. But it’s obvious I’m not the best athlete on thisfootball team. The coaches used to want the guy who had the greatest athletic ability to be the guy to take the snap and do all the sprinting out and handling off and faking and throwing. But quarterbacks now are just——Hey, who is this girl on TV? Who is this gorgeous wonderful-looking lady? Is this Hart to Hart?
PLAYBOY: No. Well, it was, but you changed the channel. Before you started lusting, we were talking about quarterbacks.
BRADSHAW: Yeah. In professional football, they don’t pick you because you’re the best athlete. You’re a quarterback when you arrive.
PLAYBOY: But do you think there’s a special kind of intelligence or temperament that makes you different from, say, an offensive lineman or a wide receiver?
BRADSHAW: Well, a lot of it has to do with size. It’s obvious that Mike Webster can’t play quarterback. He’s 6’2″, 250 pounds. But I think almost all kids are going to pick a ball up and throw it. I pick it up and throw it and it looks really nice and goes pretty good. I say to myself, Heh, heh, I can throw this football. Or if I start singing a song I’ve never sung before. I go [sings], “Well, my heart’s so blue, but I can’t get over you.” You say, Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad, so you think you can sing—so you work on it, you know? Or if you put on ice skates and you go out and, hey, you’re swinging around pretty good the first time ever—so then you got a little ability. And this is how it kind of got started with me. I picked it up and threw it some more and it kept going good and I could always throw it. Everybody else had to struggle with it. And that’s how we all get kind of caught in our own field, you know, we just kind of attempt something and we’re kind of halfway fascinated with it because we had some success at doing it and we were kind of halfway decent. But other people, it wasn’t so easy for them.
PLAYBOY: Most football players have nicknames. Mean Joe Greene and others. What do your teammates call you?
PLAYBOY: That’s the best they could come up with?
BRADSHAW: Well, they came up with a couple. Dummy, Idiot. I had a few unique nicknames.
PLAYBOY: But Brad is the main one, Dummy?
BRADSHAW: Everybody calls me Brad. And occasionally they’ll get me mixed up and call me Robert.
PLAYBOY: Are you being funny?
BRADSHAW: Redford, get it? Robert Redford. Or Paul. Paul for Newman. How we doin’ so far, we got a heck of a story, don’t we?
PLAYBOY: Just great. Anything else you want to get off your mind?
BRADSHAW: [Grabs a microphone and imitates a roadhouse singer] I’d like to say a special hello to Punkin Reed and his lovely wife, Leona May. Punk and I will be up around Hog Summit the 15th of December, doing a gig up there. Then I’m going to be down to T.G. & Y. in Kashada, doing a big opening down there, me and the boys, the Traveling Brads, will be down there and we’re going to rip-roar and have a wonderful time up there at Miss Wilma’s place. We’re going to be up there for dinner down there having spaghetti and all that good stuff. I only wish you’d all come out and see our show….
PLAYBOY: We’d better get back to football or we’ll lose control here. When you finally got to be quarterback, were you calling your own plays?
BRADSHAW: I wasn’t callin’ my own plays. I’d like to say a special hello out there also to my Aunt Wilma Nell and, ah, Cousin Nater. And I want to say hello to Tater. Nater and Tater.
PLAYBOY: Why weren’t you calling your own plays?
BRADSHAW: In high school, we just didn’t call them.
PLAYBOY: How about college?
BRADSHAW: I called my own plays in college. Sometimes the coach would want to run them on third down and I definitely felt like we should throw. [Laughs]
PLAYBOY: Whether or not a pro quarterback calls his own plays doesn’t have anything to do with what he did in college. It depends on the pro coach’s system, doesn’t it?
BRADSHAW: You’re quick. Well, I’m used to calling my own plays and always have been. I think it’s the responsibility of every quarterback to make the decision on a football field and call his own plays. If properly schooled and well educated in things that are going to happen in upcoming games, I think he ought to be the man to make the decision. I think it also shows a sign of leadership. Although a great number of coaches certainly would disagree with that. But I just think that you can take so much away from the game if you continue to take more and more away from the athletes. And one of the best things you can do, I think, is let your quarterback call the plays. It’s not that difficult. It’s timesaving. I think a quarterback gets a handle on the situation much easier if he’s calling the shots. Because I’m going to take the blame if it does go bad and I’m going to get the credit if it does go good. And if it goes bad and I’m not calling the shots, I’ll turn and say, “Well, don’t get on me, get on the coach, he’s the one who called the plays. I didn’t call the stupid play.” So I don’t think it’s fair to a great quarterback, because when it’s all said and done, it’s the one thing that kept him from being the greatest.
PLAYBOY: What does that say about your friend Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach?
BRADSHAW: Roger Staubach is the example of a man who’s complete but doesn’t call his own plays. [Rolls his eyes and laughs]
PLAYBOY: You’re being evasive.
BRADSHAW: I’d like to say a special hello out there. . . . Roger’s very unique. He’s such a tremendous athlete. [Puts his hands on his throat, pretends he's choking and smiles] But Roger will tell you hisself he’d rather call them than have Tom Landry call them. You know, there’s an edge. If I were a voter and you gave me two quarterbacks with equal records and they’re going to face off in the greatest game and one calls his plays and the other’s coach calls his plays, I’d pick the guy who calls his own plays. Because when the heat was on, he made the decisions. When they’re on third and six to go, he called the play that went for the touchdown. He made audibles. He set up the drives and everything. I just don’t see how you could do it any other way. Rather than standing out there with your hands in your lap and waiting for a play to come in. Sorry, Roger.
PLAYBOY: Play calling aside, if you were a coach and you had a Terry Bradshaw and a Roger Staubach on your team, whom would you start?
BRADSHAW: He’s a better quarterback.
PLAYBOY: He is?
BRADSHAW: Sure he is.
BRADSHAW: He is much more consistent than me, which is probably the greatest grade of a quarterback. He’s very consistent. He always has been. Probably always will be. I’ve beat him a few times and he’s beat me a few times. But he has more poise. I think he makes his mind up and throws the ball extremely well. I definitely think Roger is a superior quarterback to me.
PLAYBOY: Who are the others? Where do you rate yourself?
BRADSHAW: Shoot. I’m not much on rating me. I’d like to think I’m in the top ten. That may be flattering myself a little bit, but I always thought Staubach and Bob Griese. Griese I always thought number one. Staubach I always thought was right with him. And there’s—how do you separate? There’s three, really. Griese, Staubach and Kenny Stabler. When the three are all having their best days, you can’t separate them. I think Bert Jones of Baltimore and Joe Ferguson of Buffalo are next and then the quarterback of San Diego, Fouts, Dan Fouts. Who is next?
PLAYBOY: How about Jim Zorn in Seattle?
BRADSHAW: A great athlete but a long way to go. A lot of times you’ll find these quarterbacks are measured by the successes of their team more than as quarterbacks.
PLAYBOY: Are you?
BRADSHAW: Oh, yeah. I’m a product of my team. I’m a good quarterback because I’m on a great football team.
PLAYBOY: If you weren’t with the Steelers, what would that do to you as a quarterback?
BRADSHAW: Oh, I don’t know. It’s hard to separate the two. I think that eventually I would have been a good quarterback.
PLAYBOY: Doesn’t a lot of it depend on the people you have around you?
BRADSHAW: Let’s face it. You gotta have a great offensive line, you gotta have running backs, you gotta have a running game and when you chuck that thing, you gotta have people that aren’t afraid to go get it. I got [receivers John] Stallworth and [Lynn] Swann and Jim Smith and Theo Bell and Randy Grossman at tight end and Bennie Cunningham at tight end and Rocky [Bleier] and [Franco Harris] in the backfield, along with Sidney [Thornton] and Greg Hawthorne. I’ve got excellent people surrounding me, along with a great defense. A defense that’s very aggressive. I am on a great football team. We’re unpredictable from week to week at some stages during the season, but I am on a great football team. And my job is much easier than, say, if I was playing for the New York Giants or a team that’s rebuilding. And it’s helped me overcome the problems I had in my early career, because we all got better. Together. When I came here, I wasn’t on a very good football team. And they surrounded me continuously with greater, better football players and I caught up to them. You know, a little slower—hold up, boys, hold it, I’ll be there in a minute. Now I’m up there where I feel very comfortable. I feel like I belong right up there with Franco and Rocky and that’s my football team, you know? I’m very happy and very comfortable right where I am and don’t want to go anywhere else.
PLAYBOY: You don’t make many personal appearances. Why?
BRADSHAW: People just harass me so.
PLAYBOY: You mean for autographs?
BRADSHAW: Well, I will do autograph sessions. I’ve done three this year, but I pretty much stay in, I don’t go out. I subject myself to a lot of abuse from a lot of people and my wife gets upset. Even when things are going good, I’ve always got an enemy out there. I get very uncomfortable around people I don’t know. Especially crowds. And I feel like everybody’s staring at me or analyzing me. I’m afraid if one hair’s out of place or I may pick my nose or something. I just get to sweating. I get very uncomfortable.
PLAYBOY: Are you under the microscope more because you’re such an ardent Christian?
BRADSHAW: If you profess to be one thing and people find out that you even strayed a tad, you just get it. Like my chewing tobacco. I have had people pull my books out of the bookstore because I can’t be a Christian and chew tobacco.
PLAYBOY: Why is Terry Bradshaw such a hot item?
BRADSHAW: I don’t really understand it myself, because I’ve really only had one good year in the pros, one super year. I just don’t know what the appeal is, other than maybe I’m down to earth or country. I’m not a city slicker. I don’t try to be.
PLAYBOY: Do you have heroes?
BRADSHAW: My heroes now are Boston Mac, Impressive, Tardy Two, Two Eyed Jack. They’re horses. They’re great quarter horses.
PLAYBOY: We were thinking of human heroes.
BRADSHAW: No, I don’t really have any. My heroes have kind of shifted. I dream of having a great horse. I own a great horse named Impressive Steeler. And I dream of having a hit record in country music. You see, my field’s kind of shifted.
PLAYBOY: From recent books and movies, a lot of people have come away with the impression that pro-football players are one big boozing, brawling bunch. True?
BRADSHAW: Nope. These guys are very businesslike. I mean, we’re very neat and clean and everybody keeps a clean locker and everybody goes out and works hard and everybody comes in and showers and shaves and goes home. Before a game, it’s very casual and quiet. Everybody gets dressed and everybody’s a little emotional on the edge before the game starts. But nobody’s screaming and shouting and hollering.
PLAYBOY: Well, what about all the screaming and hollering about the drug scene in football? Do you see any drug abuse going on?
PLAYBOY: Is that an honest no? Would you answer us if you did see any abuse?
BRADSHAW: No. But, honestly, no. When practice is over, we all go our separate ways.
PLAYBOY: Were you ever at a point where you were just curious to try a drug—to see what it would do?
BRADSHAW: No, I never cared anything about it. All I’ve heard about drugs is bad, so why get hooked on something that’s bad? You know. As the old cat says, I’m high on life, pardner. Look, I’m representing the N.F.L. in this interview and I’m not going to say anything that is going to tarnish the reputation of the people I work for. So until they come up with a large N.F.L. drug bust, then I would try to uphold its name and its image completely. Period.
PLAYBOY: But you can’t ignore what’s on the public record. For example, your former teammate Joe Gilliam. He had a heroin problem the whole time he was playing alongside you. Surely, you know about that?
BRADSHAW: Well, I—there was talk that Joe was on drugs. I had never seen Joe on drugs, so therefore I didn’t know. If you tell me the sky is blue, I’m going to look for myself. I’m not going to take your word on something that’s very touchy. I never saw Joe on drugs, but obviously he was. But I wasn’t aware of it. Joe was a unique person, with a great amount of ability, and it’s sad to see what has happened to him.
PLAYBOY: A lot of people believe that the racial animosity in the N.F.L., since he was the first starting black quarterback, affected him and led him to drugs.
BRADSHAW: Well, I’m sure we can all sit here and dream up a lot of reasons why. There were maybe home pressures, frustrations, unhappiness, I don’t know.
PLAYBOY: Let’s go back to your feelings about Pittsburgh when you first came to the city. How did you react?
PLAYBOY: Let the record show that Mr. Bradshaw is snoring.
BRADSHAW: Pittsburgh. Are you kidding? Do you think I wanted to come to Pittsburgh all the way from Shreveport, Louisiana? I had never seen Pittsburgh, not even on TV. I’d read about its team in the history books. They won one game before I arrived. No, Pittsburgh was the last place I wanted to come.
PLAYBOY: As a team or as a city?
BRADSHAW: As any of it. I didn’t know anything about anything. All I knew about was New Orleans and Dallas.
PLAYBOY: All things being equal, if you had had a choice, where would you have gone?
PLAYBOY: Did you have a dream of playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys?
BRADSHAW: Being a home boy and a momma’s boy, if I had my druthers, I would have wanted to stay close to home. You realize how hard it is to go home from Pittsburgh? You can’t during the season. There are lots of times I would like to go home and see my family. Sure, I had a dream.
PLAYBOY: Would you rather have been a lower draft choice and gotten on a team that was a winner?
BRADSHAW: I was thrilled to death to be the number-one draft choice. That over-shadowed the fact that I was coming to Pittsburgh. But, all things being considered, I would have much rather been closer to home. That was my thinking back then, ten years ago. My thinking now is that I’m tickled to death to be here, I love it.
PLAYBOY: There were times when things weren’t going as well as they could have. Did you ever hope you’d be traded?
BRADSHAW: Sure, I thought about those things. I don’t think anybody in the National Football League’s never thought about being traded. Either because they’re unhappy or they’re not playing or they have problems or the fans are on them. Now, tomorrow, if that came out in quotes as, “Bradshaw—I would have loved to have been traded….”
PLAYBOY: No, we keep things in context.
BRADSHAW: Well, once it came out like that in a newspaper.
PLAYBOY: And what do the people in the front office do when something like that happens? Do they ask you if you really said that?
BRADSHAW: Oh, yeah. They call and I say, “Hey, man, the guy forced me into a corner. This newspaper guy said, ‘If you were traded, would you like to go to San Francisco?’” Obviously, I would have no say if I were traded, so, yes, if they traded me to San Francisco, I would be glad to go to San Francisco. The next day in the paper, “Bradshaw wants to be traded to San Francisco.”
PLAYBOY: Were there negative things about being the number-one draft choice?
BRADSHAW: Sure, I was probably very badly prepared for the National Football League and the status. I hadn’t been schooled. I hadn’t been subjected to a great deal of press. It was all new, so I was fresh. Press conferences? I had never seen a press conference in my life. I mean, the first one I saw, I was in.
PLAYBOY: Certainly, you’d been in front of the public and gotten paid before.
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I modeled clothes for a slack company out of Monroe, Louisiana, in downtown Dallas at the Mart. I got $100 for being the number-one draft choice. A hundred dollars the guy gave me. That was a lot of money. And the guy said, “Will you model a dress?” I said, “Shoot, for a hundred dollars a day, you bet.”
PLAYBOY: What was the single most difficult part of breaking into the pros?
BRADSHAW: Being booed. It was very difficult for me to accept. Being benched was also very difficult. The booing would have to be the hardest, because I had been benched all through my college career, and so I had experienced the benching, but I had never experienced the booing. And I never had experienced the hostility that an N.F.L. crowd could place on you. It was shocking to me. Now I’m very used to it. Heck, it doesn’t bother me. As a human being, I can accept it, I can live with that adversity and a bad time in my life on a particular night.
PLAYBOY: It doesn’t bother you when a hostile crowd boos?
BRADSHAW: As I say, it did at first. You know, when I came here, it wasn’t a good football team. It was a team that had given away some great quarterbacks, like Lenny Dawson, Johnny Unitas, probably the greatest $100 quarterback gift to date. Went to Baltimore and became the greatest. Billy Nelsen to Cleveland. So they had given away a lot of quarterbacks and they had Terry Hanratty and Joe Gilliam for a while and myself. The big quarterback controversy, which one of us should be the starter, was a big issue around here for five years. The crowds got very hostile when one of us messed up. And they’re very hostile today, even after the good years we’ve had. I can have one bad game and be walking downtown and I catch it pretty heavy. So that’s why I stay in my apartment. What really made this hard was the fact that I’m such a sensitive person.
Fans don’t care about you as a person. When you’re on the football field, they don’t care about your beliefs, they don’t care what kind of grades you made, they don’t care who your dad is, all they want is for you to perform and perform well, period. Sure, I have fans that sit in the stadium and have been pulling for me all along because they thought I was a nice guy. But a lot of people heard me talk and make jokes and stuff and thought I was being cocky and smartalecky. They didn’t like that. So they boo me.
PLAYBOY: It doesn’t change with success, obviously.
BRADSHAW: There’s 50 people out there that like me and there’s 50 out there that don’t like me. And if we win ten Super Bowls in a row, there’s 50 out there that likes me and there’s 50 out there that don’t like me. I don’t think the professional-sports fan will ever change. I think they will be the same way in the year 2000.
PLAYBOY: Who is the professional-sports fan? Is he the hard-working person who saves his money to get to the game and expects to get his money’s worth?
BRADSHAW: The people outside those super glass boxes up there, those private booths, are the ones who have had to scrape and put their bucks together and try to get a seat in that stadium.
PLAYBOY: So they really feel they have a stake in it?
BRADSHAW: They do, because they play through us. Their frustrations are taken out through us, and if we let them down on a Sunday, then it just goes to back up all the frustration. A lot of people come here to get a bad week out of their systems. They go to a Steelers game and as they beat up on their football team, their frustrations are relieved. I throw a pass; I throw it for 50,000 people. They all feel like they caught it. We very much reflect our fans. Pittsburgh has always had the reputation of a tough, tough city. I’d want this town on my side if we had to go to war again. These are good, honest, hard-working, tough people. That’s a compliment, that’s not to put them down. And I think our football team is a reflection of that.
PLAYBOY: So the Steelers are Pittsburgh all the way?
BRADSHAW: Right. When you think of us and you see us in black-and-gold uniforms and those black helmets, you think of Pittsburgh. You can’t think of a better color that reflects the city, can you? We wouldn’t look right in green and white, would we? Or red and blue. But black and gold, steel town, furnace, coal mines, blue-collar town, river-boat gamblers. It fits. We got an owner who’s been here for all those years and never had a winner. Then we come in with a coach that puts in a power offense and we have an Italian stallion named Franco Harris that steals the town and we come up with Franco’s Italian army and they roll tanks out on the football field. This is a sports town. A crazy sports town.
PLAYBOY: Compare the Pittsburgh team with your friend Staubach’s Dallas team.
BRADSHAW: Dallas is flashy and sophisticated. And I think quarterbacks reflect their coaches. Roger certainly reflects Tom Landry in the style that he plays, because Landry calls the plays. Landry’s a very intelligent man and Staubach’s a very intelligent man from the Naval Academy. So here’s Terry Bradshaw, a quarterback from Louisiana Tech, fighting bulldogs, bayou bomber. The guy that came up with a dumb image. A guy that would run over and say, “Yes, sir, no, sir.” A guy that made a lot of mistakes screwing up. But the difference was, I came to a team that wasn’t winning and I suffered my growing pains with them and made them more obvious. You hear about Dallas computer programming on athletes and we don’t do that. We just go out and scout them and pick them out and do everything through the draft. I like to think that I’m kind of a rawboned, tough kind of kid, and I kind of fit in this town.
PLAYBOY: We got on this subject after discussing the pressures and the booing that you took. Did you ever choke?
BRADSHAW: I choked. I choked my rookie year.
BRADSHAW: I felt the pressure so much that I couldn’t respond to it. I felt so much pressure on my shoulders my rookie year that I could not lift my arm up to throw the football without throwing it hardly into the ground. For fear that I was going to make a mistake. For fear that I was going to disappoint people. For fear that I wasn’t going to live up to my reputation. All this was placed on my shoulders. I felt it. I didn’t come in here loosy-goosy and relaxed, thinking, What the heck, these guys were one and 13 last year, what do you all expect from me? I choked because I wanted to win so badly.
PLAYBOY: Was winning, as they say, everything to you?
BRADSHAW: Sure, it was everything. Everything, everything. Winning is the only thing in professional football.
PLAYBOY: Did you feel that you were a flop back then?
BRADSHAW: Sure. I didn’t feel like it; I was.
PLAYBOY: Do you look at opposing teams as the enemy?
BRADSHAW: Yeah. But you don’t put fuel to the flame. You learn the hard way, you try to make friends. I don’t want anybody in the N.F.L. not to like me. I want to be everybody’s friend. If a guy hits me hard in a game, I say, “Hey, man, great shot.” It’s a tough game if you don’t have friendship. I get in fights on the field and push people around because I’m frustrated, upset, just like everybody else. And I let it get the best of me. But when the game is over, I search them out and say, “Hey, man, I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened to me when I kicked you or whatever. I’m sorry.”
PLAYBOY: You still run down and hug your receiver after a score.
BRADSHAW: Yeah, but the older you get, if you don’t stay in shape and you throw a 70-yard touchdown pass, it’s hard to run that 70 yards and jump up and down with that receiver. So you gotta stay in shape to be emotional. And I plan on throwing some 70-yarders and I want to be able to get to the end zone.
PLAYBOY: Is Chuck Noll a strong type of guy who would chew you out?
BRADSHAW: Oh, yeah, he would get on to me. Not in front of the team. If he really wanted to chew me out, he’d take me into his office. And he wouldn’t chew me out, we’d have talks. We’re past the chewing-out stage, man to man, we have talks. He’d do most of the talking.
PLAYBOY: Do you say, “Yes, sir, no, sir”?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, well, I’m 31 years old now. Not a kid anymore. I can call Chuck Chuck. It doesn’t sound right to call him Coach Noll anymore. That sounds like something a rookie would call him. But I’ve been here with him, been down the wars with Chuck Noll. We’ve been through it together and we both have gotten better for it, the years we’ve been together. And so, you know, I like Chuck. I like him a lot.
PLAYBOY: Is he a Christian?
BRADSHAW: Yes. And I like him and I think he’s a good coach. I get mad at him at times and he gets mad at me, but we can talk about it. I can holler and he’ll holler and we don’t hold it against one another. I’m not hurt. And he doesn’t have to congratulate me after a game. I know when I played well. He doesn’t say much to me after a game if I play badly, because I know I’ve played badly, too. But he also knows that I’m going to do everything I can to get back out there and play well the following week. He’s a friend.
PLAYBOY: Since you’re not discussing friendship on the side lines, what do you discuss during a game?
BRADSHAW: We don’t do a great deal of collaborating during the game. Once I’m set on my game plan, once I’ve got it in my mind, I don’t like distractions. I don’t want someone feeding me new stuff. If I’m missing some coverages, I want to know what their tendencies are, but don’t try to change a bunch of things that we don’t do. I know when I’m wrong and what can be done.
PLAYBOY: Do you feel your team is a family? We’re thinking of that other Pittsburgh team, the Pirates.
BRADSHAW: Yes, I do.
BRADSHAW: Well, the players on our football team are all players we drafted ourselves. They all are original Steelers.
PLAYBOY: And that makes a difference?
BRADSHAW: That’s family. We don’t have people from other teams who are here. A lot of this football team has been together for a few years. And we’re close.
PLAYBOY: Has anyone on the team asked you about your Christianity or asked you to explain your religion to him?
PLAYBOY: There is no witnessing going on?
BRADSHAW: There’s witnessing going on, but it’s very quiet. And it’s not outward, because you have to be very careful in how you approach people. We invite people. We have a Bible study at my apartment every Wednesday and the players are invited to come and bring their wives or girlfriends. We have a chapel service before the game that averages 20-21 players each game. So there is a great sense, an awareness of God and His presence on this football team.
PLAYBOY: Your first seasons were five-nine, six-eight, then 11-three. Then you had the A.F.C. championship game. What made that big difference?
BRADSHAW: I lost my job after the 11-three season. But the big difference was we had a defense that had gotten their parts together a little quicker than the offense. Then we drafted Franco Harris and had an outstanding offensive line. We started running the football and making things happen. We were a very young and very exciting football team. But Franco was really the key to our offense, as well as Joe Greene and Jack Ham. We had Andy Russell as an all-time old pro, and we had key people. Mel Blount came into his own, and so did Donnie Shell. We had some key personnel at that time and our football team was responding to Chuck Noll and to the things that they wanted to get done on the football field. It was a great assembly of football talent—young and experienced. But Franco was the key. He made things exciting. Then we came up with the great defense. That was really the change.
PLAYBOY: But you lost your job again, didn’t you?
BRADSHAW: Yeah. I lost it my fifth year. We finished ten and three. Joe Gilliam had a phenomenal preseason; he won the starting job and I lost it. We had the players’ strike, I stayed out a week—he didn’t. He played well and I got the ax.
PLAYBOY: When did you get the job back?
BRADSHAW: The seventh game of the year.
PLAYBOY: What happened to Gilliam?
BRADSHAW: We were a full one and one with him, but from what I can recall, there was a lot of pressure from fans and he was throwing the football a tremendous amount of times and we weren’t running the football and we lost our edge and we lost our aggressiveness and a lot of flak around the city, boy. And they chucked me back in there, which was a terrible time to do it. It was kind of a touchy situation. I responded all right for a couple of weeks, and then I faltered and Hanratty played, and then he faltered, and then I played and I did all right, and then I faltered, and then I played and I did all right, and then I faltered the following week, and then Chuck decided to stay with me in the New England game, for what reason I don’t know, because I had not played that well. We had been in and out. Nobody could play well under those conditions. And we sewed up the division. Beat Oakland in the play-offs and went to the Super Bowl and led the team to victory. Didn’t do anything great except hand off to Franco, but I was out there handing off and calling my own plays. We won the Super Bowl and that established me as the number-one quarterback for the following season. I felt the vote of confidence from Chuck Noll, which is really what I’d always been needing. I lacked in my own feelings the assurance that I was his quarterback. Whether I was or not, if he’d just told me, I could feel that. It could have made a difference early in my career. But I always felt if I screwed up, I was going to be benched. And you can’t play that way. I can’t. I needed to go out there and not know that if I screw up, I’m going to be jerked out of the game. I’ve been pulled in the middle of a quarter and back in at the end of the game. The following year, I felt this confidence. And for probably the first time in my life, I played like an N.F.L. quarterback.
PLAYBOY: That was the difference, winning the coach’s confidence?
BRADSHAW: I was always the kind of guy that was looking for approval, I guess. What compounded that even more was the fact that I’d been benched and I’d been booed and I’d been jerked out. And Noll had made statements like, “I’m waiting for one of my quarterbacks to take the bull by the horns.” How can you take it by the horns when you’re sitting on the bench? You know? And so it was going in and out of the line-up and criticism in the paper and all this and that. All I needed was that handshake: “Hey, Terry, you played a great game and you’re my quarterback no matter what, so get out there and get the job done. I know you can do it.” Whew, that’s all I needed.
PLAYBOY: Did Noll come through and say it?
BRADSHAW: Well, he never said it, I just pretended like he did. He never has said . . . he’s said some nice things to me, but——
PLAYBOY: What made you pretend he had given his confidence to you?
BRADSHAW: Just a look. Just a look. I felt it that year when I came back.
PLAYBOY: Landry said you got lucky in the 1979 Super Bowl.
BRADSHAW: Who said that?
BRADSHAW: Well, you know, I’m like any other quarterback: When you’re hot, you’re hot.
PLAYBOY: So it is luck?
BRADSHAW: Sure, it’s a lot of luck, it’s also in just knowing what you’re doing. Luck is when you throw a ball down the middle, and it shouldn’t be thrown down the middle, and it’s caught. That’s luck. Calling the right play against the right defense is not luck. That’s just good preparation. And, you know, I’m sorry to upset Mr. Landry, but it wasn’t luck that we beat Dallas. It had nothing to do with luck.
PLAYBOY: Is Landry’s offense as complex as it seems?
BRADSHAW: Well, when Landry and them get through running their plays, they’re doing the same thing everybody else is doing. All the motion and double sets and shifting the strengths of the formation is just to screw up the key of the defense; and while they’re jumping around and making adjustments and changing coverages, they get the play off.
PLAYBOY: Do you think about what you’re going to do when the game is over, the lights are turned off?
BRADSHAW: I think about it a lot. I wonder what I am going to do. I have no idea. I’m pursuing singing. I’m pursuing quarter horses. I really would like to have a great breeding farm in Louisiana and to run my breeding farm. I love that country and I haven’t really been home in 14 years.
PLAYBOY: When you’re down there on your ranch and you’ve got some time alone, what do you do?
BRADSHAW: I get in my jeep and I drive out among my animals and I stop it and I park it and they come around me and I just meditate and I pray and I’m very thankful. This ritual I go through of driving out and having my prayer life out in the middle of a pasture with my animals just reminds me how very fortunate I am.
PLAYBOY: Before we retire you, a lot of people would like to know how strong your arm is.
BRADSHAW: My arm is strong. I’ve always had a strong arm. A very strong arm.
PLAYBOY: Do you ever worry about it?
BRADSHAW: No, I never give it a second thought. Once you build a reputation—I know now I don’t throw as hard as I did my rookie year. But the reason is I am smarter and I’m wiser and I take a lot off the ball now and you learn the game, you change your philosophy. Even when the guys are wide open, I don’t fire the football anymore. I don’t throw it like I used to throw it.
PLAYBOY: But you could?
BRADSHAW: Yes, I could.
PLAYBOY: How does it feel when a 280-pound lineman is coming straight at you and you know he’s going to get you, barrel you over head on?
BRADSHAW: You try not to think about it, because if you think about it, it’ll psych you out. If you think that these guys are going to get you, then you’ll not be able to play well. And if I’m thinking that, obviously, I don’t have any confidence in the people on my offensive line. I’ve developed confidence in my offensive line. I have to believe in my mind and all my heart and all my inner being that they will not let anybody get there and I’m going to set right there in that pocket and I’m going to throw that football without a worry in the world.
PLAYBOY: On those rare occasions when some monster lineman might blind-side you, what goes through your head?
BRADSHAW: Normally, the initial blow doesn’t hurt; it’s the weight in falling, either falling on your shoulder or on your back, and your head pops the turf. The initial blow doesn’t hurt, because they’re either fighting around a tackle or coming off a lineman’s block and they don’t really have just a direct shot at ya. So how bad can they hurt you? Bad….
PLAYBOY: We suppose, then, you are pleased with the new N.F.L. rule on early whistles that is supposed to protect quarterbacks.
BRADSHAW: The game is a contact sport. I am against rules that restrict the athletic ability of players. What they don’t realize is that when those guys get their hands on ya, you can blow the whistle as long as you want and the adrenaline and the excitement at the moment and the crowd noise make it impossible to hear those whistles.
PLAYBOY: Do you think about your statistics?
BRADSHAW: I care about statistics. But they can be very misleading. You know, I like to have as good statistics as anyone in the league. I like to throw 60 percent, 15 to 25 TDs every year and have over 2000 yards passing. That’s being selfish, but let’s face it, we’re motivated by a lot of different things and one of them is our selfishness or greed—or wanting to be successful. And I would like to have good statistics, yes. And they are important. Yes. I’d be lying if I said they weren’t. But, at the same time, when it comes down to it, the most important thing is winning.
PLAYBOY: Some TV sportscasters have been saying that you might be a strong candidate for the Football Hall of Fame.
BRADSHAW: For what? Well, let’s go out and celebrate! [Strikes a pose like a bronze bust] Have I got my head bent! Oh, I got a mustache. I wonder if I should shave my mustache? I gotta put my hairpiece on. Are they going to put me in a cowboy hat or a football helmet?
PLAYBOY: Do you think about the Hall of Fame?
BRADSHAW: No, I don’t like to think about that. I don’t like to think about the good things. They make me very uncomfortable. I only like to think that I got five years left to play and, the good Lord willing, I want to play the best I can and win as many games as I can and I want to get out.
PLAYBOY: Wait a minute. You have said you had nine years left. Have you cut your career short?
BRADSHAW: Well, I had a bad back this weekend; that took four years off.
PLAYBOY: Do you think you’d be more of a national hero if you were playing in a “glamorous” city, like New York or L.A.? Pittsburgh is certainly not a glamorous city.
BRADSHAW: Says who?
PLAYBOY: Says the average person out there. Just look out your window.
BRADSHAW: OK, look out my window. What do you see?
PLAYBOY: Murky steel mills and green water.
BRADSHAW: Hold it, hold it! I see the stadium. I see a barge coming up the Monongahela with cement and gravel on it. There’s a parking lot over there. There’s the Clark candy-bar company on the hill—you can see the back of it. That pretty bridge. The hillside. There’s that TV tower over there. Hey. What better view could you want? How much more glamorous can a city get?
PLAYBOY: When you think back over your three Super Bowls, is there one that was more satisfying, that made you feel better than the others?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I think the first one, against Minnesota.
PLAYBOY: What do you remember most about that game?
BRADSHAW: I remember how our defense totally dominated Minnesota, just totally dominated. They didn’t do anything, they had something like 20 yards rushing. Franco Harris had a super day for us. Our offensive line controlled their defensive line.
PLAYBOY: What did you do immediately after the game? After you finished the interviews?
BRADSHAW: I went back to the hotel where all my family was—my brother Gary bought a case of champagne for everybody. I had about 30 people down. And I had a migraine headache, couldn’t hardly open my eyes. And I sat up in bed and they were all singing and doing cheers. My mother was leading in cheers because she was just so happy. She was beside herself because of all I’d gone through—the image thing—and I’m sure she just wanted to tell the world. I just sat there and couldn’t believe it. I just really couldn’t believe it. And it was the greatest experience of my life. The greatest moment in my life at that point in time.
PLAYBOY: We hear you’re a jokester on the team. What kinds of pranks have you pulled?
BRADSHAW: I’ve pulled the old basic foam in a jockstrap or a cup of water in a helmet. Take their clothes and hide them and then pretend I have no idea what they’re talking about. Put a potato in the exhaust pipe of their car. Lock them in the john. I’ve had my share of pranks.
PLAYBOY: Did you ever pull a prank on Noll?
BRADSHAW: No. I don’t mess with the boss.
PLAYBOY: Do you ever gamble on a football game?
BRADSHAW: Why would you want to ask a question like that?
PLAYBOY: We’ll bet you ten dollars that you don’t answer it.
BRADSHAW: Oh, I’ll answer it, but you know the answer. I’m going to say no.
PLAYBOY: Gambling is a billion-dollar operation in this country. Are you aware of point spreads before a game? Or are you aware of the gambling done on pro football?
BRADSHAW: Well, let me just say this about gambling. It’s such a sensitive subject I’m scared to touch it, for fear I’ll say something that might incriminate me. I mean, really, if I say it’s bad and that I don’t think they should do it, then all the guys that are making a living at it will say, “Well, how am I going to feed my family?” That’s a poor example, but I’m faced with it on the street. If there’s one thing that upsets me, that lights the fuse quicker with me than anything, it’s when I run into someone on the street and even though we won the game, he says, “Ah, I lost 50 bucks on you guys.” You know? Just because we didn’t beat the point spread. It’s not that we win; it’s the point spread.
PLAYBOY: Are you aware of that point spread before a game?
BRADSHAW: No. No. Oh, well, I mean, I’m aware of it. I read it in the paper like everybody else, but I forget about it.
PLAYBOY: Do you think a National Football League game could ever be fixed?
BRADSHAW: Well, I don’t know how. I’m sure someone could be in control of a receiver or a running back and people who handle the football, where you could have turnovers and stuff. But honest to goodness, maybe I’m just too naive to think it can ever get so corrupt they would really find out that one of our games had been fixed. I just could never believe that. I don’t know how. I’m not smart enough to know how to fix a game. You know, maybe if I took the ball and just threw it to one of their defensive backs, I mean, it would be so obvious. Maybe in some of the games I look like I’m fixed the way I throw the ball—like one Sunday, I threw a pass right to a linebacker standing right in front of me. Maybe there’s situations where you can get away with it, but I honestly don’t see how you could fix a game.
PLAYBOY: It’s a political year. Do you care who is President?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I care.
PLAYBOY: Did you vote for Carter?
BRADSHAW: Because I like peanuts. Anybody who likes peanuts has got to be a pretty good old fella.
PLAYBOY: Aren’t you concerned about his performance in the White House?
BRADSHAW: I’m concerned, but not as concerned about him as I am about all the other problems we’ve got going. It just seems to me that we spend a lot of money to make up our national debt—and there’s inflation and prices go up, the dollar goes down. Everybody talks about balancing the budget. For why? I don’t understand it. I’ve lost a lot of money in the cattle business. We import a lot of meat. And so it’s kept the domestic prices down because of the import of foreign beef. When we finally cut down our import of foreign beef, our domestic beef prices went up where we could make a living. By the time I put up hay and fertilize my hayfields and pay for my equipment and pay for my labor and then sell my cattle, I may make a profit. Most of the time, I lose money. If it weren’t for my football money, which keeps my ranch going, my ranch would lose money every year. And if I had to live off my farm, I’d starve.
PLAYBOY: You acted in Hooper. Frankly, you’ve been a better actor during this interview than you were in the movie. Are you thinking about an acting career?
BRADSHAW: No, I’m not.
PLAYBOY: Why did you take that role in Hooper?
BRADSHAW: I did it because I wanted to see what it was like.
PLAYBOY: What was it like?
BRADSHAW: It was more different than anything I’ve ever been around. I got to see a little bit about how Hollywood works. The small part was well worth it from that standpoint. Period. There’s no future for me as an actor. I’m not sure I don’t have the talent to do it, but I don’t have the desire. I don’t want to get caught up in that, reaching for something that I know I can’t possibly attain.
PLAYBOY: Why not?
BRADSHAW: Because there’re too many good-looking guys in Hollywood who are starving to death. Just because I am a successful quarterback, a football player what rights does that entitle me to as an actor?
PLAYBOY: It’s happened to others.
BRADSHAW: Yeah, but my ego is not that big. I don’t need acting, I just don’t need it.
PLAYBOY: But you are a fairly good singer, so you can look to country-and-western.
BRADSHAW: Yeah, but I’ve had no successes as a country-and-western singer. You see, what you don’t understand is to get to be a professional football player, I’ve worked hard at my skills ever since I was eight years old. Now, actors and singers today have been studying the hard way for probably the same period of time that I’ve been getting ready for football. An actor can go on until the day he dies. Same thing for a country-and-western singer. And so, as a country-and-western singer, I experienced a lot of difficulty in being in front of crowds, because, well, I was nervous and scared I lacked confidence in my voice, because my voice wasn’t used to it. Now I can sit here and just sing, you know. [Sings] “My heart is. . . .” I ought to be in Nashville. Then I get onstage and it goes, “My hear-rrrrt. . . .” [Bradshaw's voice cracks]
PLAYBOY: Sounds all right to us.
BRADSHAW: Most of the time, it was very bad. I knew that I wasn’t as good in public as I was in the bathtub. A few times, I did sing well. But more often than not, I would mess up quite a bit during my singing. So I took two years off and studied, worked on my voice. I have a chance to go back in February on the roads of America! By the time this interview comes out, I will either be touring and singing or I will just give it up completely. And be finished with it.
PLAYBOY: Well, one way or another, you strike us as a born performer.
BRADSHAW: That’s true. I never thought I was, but that’s true. I have to put it on, I have to put on the dog. It’s so hard, though. When I come off the football season, I’m tired. The singing, I got to go right on the road February first and I’ll be gone February, March, April, May and June.
PLAYBOY: What about JoJo?
BRADSHAW: She’ll be doing her skating.
PLAYBOY: When will you be together?
BRADSHAW: We will. Oh, yeah, yeah—yeah, sure.
PLAYBOY: Is it like other show-business marriages—grab a weekend between gigs?
BRADSHAW: For the off season this year, yes. We’ve been like that, just about, our three years of marriage.
PLAYBOY: OK. Let’s talk about your marriages. In 1974, you were divorced from your wife of 18 months. She was Miss Teenage America of 1969. You seem to go after women who are famous.
BRADSHAW: Well, don’t most Hollywood people date glamorous ladies?
PLAYBOY: But you said you’re not a Hollywood person.
BRADSHAW: [Laughs] No. But that’s what it seems like, true. I love beautiful women. I’m attracted to gorgeous, beautiful women.
PLAYBOY: A connoisseur?
BRADSHAW: I appreciate beauty like the normal male would. And then everything else has to come into play as to whether or not the chemistry is there, whether you love one another, blah, blah, blah. Being a professional quarterback, being in the limelight, period, makes us more attractive to people, whether we are not, whether we got teeth missing or whatever. It just makes you more attractive, because we’re special. I don’t find myself a really good-looking guy. I just got too many things missing—like my front tooth. But I’ve had the opportunity to meet some very beautiful women in my life and I’m lucky I’m married to one now.
PLAYBOY: What about Miss Teenage America? What happened?
BRADSHAW: I was very lonely. And thought I loved her. Didn’t love her. I tried to break the wedding up two days before, but it hurt her and she was crying and bellyaching and I said, well, maybe. But it was a bad thing to do. I messed her life up and mine.
PLAYBOY: How much did that marriage have to do with the bad years of football?
BRADSHAW: I do remember being very depressed after my third season. I was very lonely, I remember I was staying at my parents’ house and I was real irritable and my brother and was picking on me and I grabbed him by the throat and threw him down. I was just furious and I didn’t know why.
PLAYBOY: Why did the marriage go so bad?
BRADSHAW: Immaturity was one thing. It was lack of good judgment, it was poor timing, it was wrong.
PLAYBOY: Did you go out hustling other women right away?
BRADSHAW: No, I never hustled. I never was good at hustling.
BRADSHAW: I just wasn’t aggressive enough. I didn’t like to go out and hit the streets at night and have people harassing me. I never like the bars; I was always preaching or singing in church or giving a testimony. The Lord had just kind of dampened my thrill for that.
PLAYBOY: Did you go out?
BRADSHAW: Sure, I went out. I hit the joints like everybody else, but not nearly as often. I bet I can count on both hands the times I’ve been in bars in Pittsburgh. And I’ve been here ten years.
PLAYBOY: Did you want to get married again?
BRADSHAW: No, I never thought I’d get married again. But I’d been praying for JoJo. I was praying for a Christian woman with a Christian life. And then I met JoJo.
PLAYBOY: During the 1974 season?
BRADSHAW: Right. Six or seven months after the divorce. I met her at the skating show, the Ice Capades had come to Pittsburgh. Some of us were meeting some of the chorus-line girls afterward to go out and have dinner.
PLAYBOY: Were you surprised she was a Christian?
BRADSHAW: Well, that’s the whole reason we got together. She had some friends who had read my book, No Easy Game, about my Christian faith. JoJo said, “Oh, I know that guy. He’s just like me.”
PLAYBOY: Were you in love?
BRADSHAW: No, I wasn’t in love, but I was attracted to her. And I was thrilled to death she was a Christian. So I pursued her every night and we were together every day off.
PLAYBOY: Were you tempted to have premarital sex?
BRADSHAW: [Jumps up, falls down on his knees and hides his face in the pillows on the orange couch. He is moaning] Tempted!
PLAYBOY: You’re human.
BRADSHAW: That’s a tough question, because, boy, I could get blasted, if I say no, and I get blasted if I say yes. So I’ll say I don’t know. [Laughs]
PLAYBOY: But you do know.
BRADSHAW: I would think that every hot-blooded American male in this world today would be lying if he said he didn’t think about premarital sex. And I’m no exception. I mean, I can’t lie. I could lie, but then everybody is going to say, “Who are you kidding?” Sure, I thought about it, but there was no way that I was going to pursue my thoughts. Because I had something very special and I didn’t want to destroy it, because she’s such a wholesome, wonderful person.
PLAYBOY: She was really committed?
BRADSHAW: Absolutely. Straight and narrow. She’s my wife, a super woman. She was a tremendous inspiration to me. She was so tender and young, really naive and girlish. She’d been sheltered, she’d not been around, hadn’t dated that many men. She’d always been in the Ice Capades. And never had a date life. I actually was probably one of the first men that she’d ever dated.
PLAYBOY: What did she do on the road? Were you jealous?
BRADSHAW: No. Not jealous. What was there to be jealous of? Most of the guys in the ice show were gay.
PLAYBOY: But how about other guys?
BRADSHAW: See, JoJo is so open that she just tells me how much she loves me and I believe her. And she would call between shows and we were in steady communication. I never had to worry. And she never had to worry about me.
PLAYBOY: When did you ask her to marry you?
BRADSHAW: Four weeks later.
PLAYBOY: You’re a quick worker.
BRADSHAW: She accepted two weeks later. Nine months later, we were married.
PLAYBOY: And you really knew this was the one.
BRADSHAW: Man, I never had any doubts. I had nothing to compare it with. The first time I got married, it was a mistake and I was miserable. After this marriage, I turned to my dad and I said, “Hey, Pop, this is the happiest day in my life. This is the real McCoy.”
PLAYBOY: Didn’t you suspect you might have problems with JoJo and her career?
BRADSHAW: Well, the possibility of problems was always there because of JoJo’s career and my ranch. We both realized we would have problems that we’d have to work out. I would give her the freedom to pursue her career—so we covered all the territory.
PLAYBOY: But later on, you did have misgivings, right?
BRADSHAW: Nope, not now.
PLAYBOY: What about before now?
BRADSHAW: That was last year’s results. Last year was tough because it was the first year I’d had to do without my wife. I was jealous of her career and everything that was happening to her in New York City. I didn’t understand it. I never have. I told JoJo I’d never experienced these feelings in myself. I felt that she loved her job more than she loved me. I felt she was never going to be happy doing anything but being in the bright lights and the heck with everything else.
PLAYBOY: And you took your feelings out on her?
BRADSHAW: Oh, yeah. As I look back on it now, when she was home, was I a great husband? No. Did I talk to her and baby her and pamper her? No. Did I communicate with her? No. I was a jerk of a husband. So, naturally, she sought other things to get fulfillment, because, obviously, she wasn’t getting it from me. And she’d fly to the end of the world to do a show for free. I wouldn’t go to Germany and give up two weeks of myself for free. She’d do anything for free as long as she thought she could skate and entertain. I knew she didn’t like the ranch.
So I experienced a whole set of new problems. But I did love her. That was the one main ingredient. And she loved me. We kept praying that the Lord would work our lives out. It was hard, because we wanted to control them. She wanted New York. I wanted her here. Well, what did the Lord want? She said he wanted her in New York and I said, “He wants you here.” Now it’s just worked out.
PLAYBOY: Isn’t there a passage in the Bible that says the woman should be submissive to the man?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, but that’s one verse. What about the passage in the Bible that says it’s a sin to waste your Godgiven talent? In other words, if God blessed you with some talent, you should use it.
PLAYBOY: Did your attitude change?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I’ve developed. I’ve got a career wife. I have to realize I have a career wife. Now, after three years of bickering and quarreling and crying and fighting, and all this, and loving, I can accept it. Don’t ask me why. It’s just amazing.
PLAYBOY: There are a lot of men out there who look up to you as their version of the macho man——
BRADSHAW: [Sings] “Macho, macho man!”
PLAYBOY: You don’t really believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen?
BRADSHAW: No, I don’t.
PLAYBOY: You were once quoted as saying that.
BRADSHAW: I said a lot of that stuff just because those press people ticked me off. I don’t think that anymore. If the wife wants to get in the kitchen, fine; if she wants to get out in the yard, fine. I never put any pressure on JoJo to do that. I just wanted her home. I wanted her with me. The main thing, I didn’t want the pressure of moving from my ranch. She hated it. I don’t care what you do, but don’t force me into making a decision of having to give up something I struggled so hard to pay for and love so much.
PLAYBOY: Do you worry now about losing JoJo?
BRADSHAW: No, I’ve got a lot of confidence in both of us.
PLAYBOY: Before you met JoJo, what were your feelings about sex?
BRADSHAW: I already said that I’m a normal, healthy human being; no matter what your faith is, it’s gotta cross your mind. Just like Jimmy Carter said, he has lust for women and we all want— Hey, Carter’s a man, he was honest and, you know, people lashed out at him for it. But, hey, ask anybody and they’d tell you the same thing: You’re human and lust is a sin, it’s….
BRADSHAW: But this premarital sex…. As a Christian, you know premarital sex is wrong. And I’m so glad that my wife and I didn’t.
PLAYBOY: So your relationship isn’t built on sex?
BRADSHAW: You can’t base a lifelong lasting relationship on sex, because as you grow older and get wrinkled, if you don’t love one another, then it’s not going to last if it’s all built around sex. But to two people who love each other, it gets more beautiful. And a lot of people who are out there reading this are going, “Gag, gag, gag.” But those are the people that were like me during my first marriage. They didn’t have the relationship the way it should be and went after the body. Not in the right order. The body, great body. And you always hear men getting on to women, “Hey, you’re getting heavy, that body better not get fat on me.” What about the men? They‘re going to get fat and sloppy. They got it pointed in the wrong direction. It’s not the body, it’s the woman herself and sex is just the cream of the crop.
PLAYBOY: Some people would think——
BRADSHAW: I know, they’re going to think, What a square, what a true square.
PLAYBOY: Are your beliefs tested a lot because of all the women who hang around athletes?
BRADSHAW: Oh, you’re tested, you’re tested all the time. I found out the best way to avoid being tested is to stay away from the places you can be tested. That’s one good thing about having JoJo here. If you meet the guys and you go out and there’s tons of women around and you’re lonely and your wife’s been gone a couple of weeks, you subject yourself. If you’re not strong, it could be hard. I want to remain faithful and true and it’s very hard. It’s sure hard.
PLAYBOY: On the road, do you still see groupies?
BRADSHAW: You see them, but not in big numbers. There’s no Joe Namaths around now, and everybody knows I’m a Christian and that I’m married and they leave me alone. I don’t have a problem at all.
PLAYBOY: Can a married man who is a Christian still have sexual fantasies?
BRADSHAW: [Laughs, picks up microphone] Folks, what we have here is really tricky questioning. Being of solid mind and foundation…. Why are you asking me? I can’t respond to these terrible questions. What are you trying to do? We’re talking about being a Christian and now you’re hitting me with——
PLAYBOY: Just part of an in-depth interview.
BRADSHAW: Well, I don’t know, maybe a man can and maybe he can’t, I don’t know. If I have them, it’s about my wife.
PLAYBOY: So you didn’t give up everything to be Christian?
BRADSHAW: What a dumb question. Anyhow—any way I answer this—I’m stuttering. Anything I say will get me in trouble with my brethren out on the street. [Mimics Gomer Pyle] “Well, Terry Bradshaw has sexual fantasies. Why, simple, simple.” I mean, if I do, they’re about my wife. I don’t have many of them, if I have any. I don’t havethem. I don’t sit back and fantasize making love. Is that what you’re saying, making love with another lady?
PLAYBOY: Well, yes, that, too.
BRADSHAW: No, I haven’t done that in a while. [Gazes upward] Lord, I don’t know how to answer these questions without getting in trouble. You’re just going to have to take these interviewers and direct them on the right path.
PLAYBOY: You haven’t put your foot in your mouth.
BRADSHAW: Really? Whew. [Sings] “Help me make it through the night….”
PLAYBOY: Do you think we’ve been too rough, pressed you too hard on personal matters?
BRADSHAW: The Devil is speaking through you right now. [Uses a deep preacher voice into the microphone] Lord, take the Devil from their heart.
PLAYBOY: Perhaps we should have prayed about this before we started this interview.
BRADSHAW: I know. We’re going to pray about it when it’s over, I know that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
While director of new publications for Playboy, Maury Z. Levy developed a series of acclaimed lifestyle magazines, in addition to conducting interviews with personalities such as Mike Wallace, Jimmy Stewart, William F. Buckley Jr. and Pete Rose. A national award-winning editor, publisher and journalist with publications such as Philadelphia Magazine, Levy is credited as the founder of “concept journalism,” having created such widely known features as “The Best of Philly.”
Samantha Stevenson, a former sports journalist whose work appeared in the New York Times, served as the coach for her daughter, tennis star Alexandra Stevenson.