The Pittsburgh Steelers are celebrating a very special birthday today as former legendary quarterback and Hall of Fame member Terry Bradshaw celebrates his 74th birthday. As part of the celebration, we look back on the “Blond Bomber’s” legacy that he made while donning the black and gold.
The Pressure In Pittsburgh
After being the number one overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft, Bradshaw became the Steelers’ starter during his second season. During the early years of his career, he wasn’t quite the elite quarterback he would later become, throwing more interceptions than completions and being ridiculed by the media.
In 1972, in a playoff game against the Oakland Raiders, Bradshaw threw a pass downfield that ricocheted off an opposing player’s helmet and was caught by running back Franco Harris.
As we know, this play has been named the “Immaculate Reception” and has become one of the most famous plays in the history of football. This one good play wasn’t enough to solidify Bradshaw’s spot as the starter.
Victory Through Adversity
In 1974, there was a player’s strike in the NFL, and Bradshaw was among the players that took part. After going on strike for a week during the preseason, Bradshaw lost his job to Joe Gilliam. In an interview with Playboy, via Maury Z. Levy, Bradshaw discusses that moment of his career.
“Joe Gilliam had a phenomenal preseason. He won the starting job and I lost it,” Bradshaw said. “We had the players’ strike, I stayed out a week, he didn’t. He played well and I got the ax.”
After Week 6, Steelers Head Coach Chuck Noll made the decision to make Bradshaw the starter once again. This is where Bradshaw’s career started turning the corner, as he led the team to its first Super Bowl appearance and inevitably the first Lombardi Trophy in the franchise’s history. This win included beating the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 16-6 in Super Bowl IX.
Bradshaw would repeat this success the following year in Super Bowl X. Down late in the fourth quarter, Bradshaw would launch a 64-yard bomb to wide receiver Lynn Swann for the game-clinching touchdown.
NFL Films would eventually classify this as the “Greatest Throw Of All Time”.
Super Bowl Success
Bradshaw would add two more Super Bowl titles to his incredible resume, starting in 1978. That year, Bradshaw would be awarded the league MVP award. He would later capture Super Bowl MVP as he defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII.
Bradshaw would win his second straight Super Bowl MVP the following year coming away with a victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV. This gave the Steelers four total championships over a six-year period, and Bradshaw a record of 4-0 in Super Bowl appearances. Unfortunately, 1979 would be the last time Bradshaw advanced to the Super Bowl.
Other Career Accomplishments
Other than Super Bowl trophies and Super Bowl MVP awards, Bradshaw accomplished quite a bit over the course of his 13-year career in Pittsburgh to establish himself as one of, if not the greatest quarterback in franchise history. He was a First Team All-Pro, a three-time Pro Bowler, a two-time NFL passing touchdowns leader and a member of the 1970s All-Decade team. Bradshaw is also a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time team and is enshrined in both the Steelers Hall of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
After his retirement, Bradshaw also had a very fruitful career in the television and film industry. He has appeared in a multitude of commercials and made many cameos in various TV shows and several movies. Most known nowadays for being an analyst on Fox NFL Sunday, Bradshaw has won three Sports Emmy Awards and was the first NFL player to receive a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.
From all of Steeler Nation, we thank Terry Bradshaw for all that he has done for not only the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, but the game of football in its entirety. We wish him a happy birthday and hope there will be many more to come!
What are your favorite memories of Terry Bradshaw? Let us know in the comments below.