Terry Bradshaw Photo: Stewart Cohen
Terry Bradshaw Photo: Stewart Cohen

Terry Bradshaw Q&A

The former NFL quarterback is a football legend. He’s also a self-described “airplane junkie.”

When former NFL football star and current Fox NFL Sunday sports analyst Terry Bradshaw enters a room, heads turn. Everyone recognizes the beefy, six-foot-three longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback whose hands seem almost as big as baseball mitts and who has one of the most powerful arms in NFL history. The Shreveport, Louisiana–born Bradshaw, who these days sports a scruffy gray beard and a mustache, puts people at ease by repeating their names frequently in conversation. 

Having played for 14 seasons with the Steelers and led them to four Super Bowl wins and eight AFC Central championships, he has since become one of his sport’s most popular—and most active—retired stars. Besides co-hosting Fox NFL Sunday since 1994, the now 71-year-old Bradshaw has coauthored five books, recorded country western and gospel songs, and had cameo acting roles in TV shows. He also breeds quarter horses on his 800-acre Oklahoma ranch (which he plans to sell and replace with a Texas ranch). In addition, he will soon perform a one-man Las Vegas show that’s based on his life and star along with his family in an E! comedy docu-series, The Bradshaw Bunch

Bradshaw has a quick and self-deprecating sense of humor. Asked to name his worst gridiron play ever, he cackles and responds in his Louisiana drawl, “My worst plays far exceed my good plays. There's way too many.”

Terry Bradshaw Photo: Stewart Cohen
Terry Bradshaw Photo: Stewart Cohen

Of course, there were also more than a few good plays—enough to fuel a lifestyle that in addition to the Oklahoma ranch now includes homes on the Big Island of Hawaii and in Sarasota, Florida, plus a pair of business jets. 

What made you decide at a very early age that you wanted to play professional football?

I looked in the window of a Sears store in Iowa where we were living and saw a mounted football, Iowa Hawkeye helmet, shoulder pads, and cleats. It just mesmerized me, so I asked Santa Claus for a football. When I got it, I knew nothing about football, but it was like the heavens opened up, and the love affair started. 

What is your best football memory?

Super Bowl IX, when [Pittsburgh Steelers founding owner] Art Rooney was presented the Lombardi Trophy. We’d just defeated the [Minnesota] Vikings. Mr. Rooney was loved and revered throughout the National Football League, and everybody was pulling for him—kind of like [Kansas City Chiefs coach] Andy Reid this year. To see him get that award was quite rewarding for me.

What are your thoughts on CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain degeneration caused by repeated head traumas]?

I understand CTE and what has happened. I played with [the late] Mike Webster [the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE]. I understand that brains have been analyzed after players have died and we find out that they had CTE, Aaron Hernandez being the latest. 

Your own battle has been with depression, and you’ve been very open about that.

I've never dodged [the subject of] depression. Depression is real, and it's a disease. Men need to know that it's OK, that it's not their fault. Cancer can be treated and it's not something to be ashamed of, but depression for men has always represented a weakness. That’s just so far from the truth. Mine goes up and down. I've had periods where depression lasted for months, primarily only when I went through a divorce.

Bradshaw shares a laugh with his wife, Tammy. Photo: Stewart Cohen
Bradshaw shares a laugh with his wife, Tammy. Photo: Stewart Cohen

You've been married four times. Do you have any thoughts on the institution?

First of all, I've really been married once, and that's my current wife. The other three were just practice.

What's the one thing in your life that you regret the most?

I’m Christian, and I grew up in a family that doesn't believe in divorce. I'm extremely embarrassed that I have to say, “divorced three times, married four times.”

What advice would you give someone entering into a marriage?

Your wife should be your best friend. Share as much as you can. The more you share, the happier you're going to be together and the better the chance for survival. Don't ignore red flags, because there will be trouble.

The Steelers had a down year in 2019. Do you feel that they're on the decline or was that just an anomaly?

What happened is they lost Antonio Brown, then [Le’Veon] Bell, then they lost their tight end. Then Ben Roethlisberger, their quarterback, was injured. If Ben comes back, they're going to be fine. I thought Mike Tomlin did his best coaching job last year holding that team together because they were in the playoff run right to the end. They've got to get their quarterback situation solved, and they've got to get some play-makers. 

Which current player and coach would you most like to have played with?

Bill Belichick is easily the greatest coach we've ever had. I would love to have played for Tom Landry, Don Coryell. The player I’d love to have played with is Tony Gonzalez, the tight end from the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Are there any quarterbacks in the NFL draft who you think will be particularly good pros?

There's no formula for finding a great quarterback coming out of college. Nobody knows their heart; nobody knows their poise. Joe Burrow [Louisiana State University] I think is a lock. And Tua [Tagovailoa] at [University of] Alabama. 

What did you think of this year's Super Bowl?

Loved it! I was there! My wife's a Chiefs fan and I picked the 49ers, so she just started talking to me today.

You seem to have a lot of fun on camera with the crew at Fox NFL Sunday. What makes the show tick?

We're all good friends. We all care and love one another, and that is just huge.

Why do you fly privately?

I need a plane to take care of all my business needs. Before I started flying private 14 years ago, I had to get to a commercial airport in Dallas, hope everything was on time, get where I was going, do the job, and then either have to stay overnight or fly to the next city. I had to buy [an airplane] because I just couldn’t get where I needed to be on my timeframe and save my health. I realized flying privately would give me 40 extra days at home with the hours saved.

Bradshaw performs in Las Vegas
Bradshaw performs in Las Vegas

How did you go about buying an aircraft?

I studied planes for four years, asked a lot of questions, and read all the books. I just bought a new plane, and now I'm already planning my next purchase. I went to the plane show in Vegas [the National Business Aviation Association’s convention and exhibition last October]. Call me crazy—I just love planes.

What was the airplane you just bought?

A Lear 40XR, which services all my needs. It's affordable and the operational cost fits my budget. I also have a Lear 31A. I love the speed, I love the look—classy, sexy. But I’m a big guy and the 40XR gives me about six more inches [of headroom] inside the cabin and gets me everywhere I need to go. 

My goal is to move up to a [Bombardier] Challenger 300 or a 604. I’ve also been looking at the Gulfstream 450 because nothing speaks class like a Gulfstream. And I've looked at the [Cessna Citation] Latitude. If we had a plane that could make Hawaii, we’d get over there more to see our grandkids. I'm waiting for the price to come down a little bit. 

On what basis do you buy a plane?

You don't buy it for your ego, you buy it for business. Can it get four people where we need to go? Six people? I love the Falcons. I've wanted to buy a Citation X, because I think that's just a cool-ass plane. 

Why do you need two airplanes?

My 31A just had a 300-hour maintenance check. If I have two planes, as much as we're traveling, I'll always have one ready to go. Also, I paid $700,000 for my 31A. Why would I want to get rid of it? I’ll hold it until I get the 40XR broken in, and then I'll move it. I try to keep planes no more than two years and then I flip them. My pilots know. They say, "Well, boss, how long we going to keep this one?"

You owned a Gulfstream G150 for a very short time. Why?

Someone saw me get out of it and said, "That Terry Bradshaw?" They said, “Yeah. That's his G150.” They called my broker, Don Gantt [of Million Air Dallas], and said, “Will he sell his G150?” Don said, “Well, he just got it." They said, “If he’d sell it, what would you want for it?” Don priced it and the guy said, “OK, we'll buy it.” He called me, and I said, “What? I just got it!”

What’s the best airplane you’ve ever owned?

The Lear 60. I loved the Citation XL, too. If I want to be classy and sexy, really fast, and safe, of course I'm going Lear. If I want a plane that's safe, economical, affordable, and the direct costs all match up, I'd fly a Citation XL until moving up into the Latitude or the X. I've owned a [Citation] CJ2 and loved it. It was affordable, but it wouldn't get me to California or New York, so I bought the wrong plane. That's my fault, not the CJ2’s fault. It’s an awesome jet.

What did you buy next?

A Lear 35 because it’s the first plane I ever flew inside of, and Bill Lear's son flew me on it from Vegas to Kansas City. I told my brother, “One of these days, I'm going to own one of these bad boys.” We landed and I didn't want to get off the plane. I love sitting in a private jet, kind of like I'm in love with football. 

If you had a gazillion dollars and could buy any airplane, what would it be?

I am an airplane junkie. If I had a gazillion dollars, I wouldn't buy one plane, I'd buy bunches of planes. I would buy something extremely sexy and cool. I don't know what Gulfstream's latest plane is, but it's pretty friggin' cool. If I wanted a plane that I could stand up in and that’s wide, I would probably go with the Challenger 300 or [the latest] Gulfstream. I don't think I would want a big, big plane. I just want comfort. Don and I have talked about the [Cessna Citation] Sovereign, but probably I’d go with the Challenger 300. 

Have you ever considered getting a pilot's license?

Nope. I wouldn't be alive today if I had a license, because I tend to daydream. Or I'd run out of gas because I'd forget where I'm going. If I hit turbulence and got into clouds, I would panic. I only have the desire to own. 

You've been a supporter of the Republican Party over the years. What do you think of it today?

I've been a Republican, but now I'm a registered independent. I don't want to alienate anyone, and the minute you say, “I'm a Democrat” or “I'm Republican,” you're kicking off the other side. I want the best person [in the White House], and I'll pick the one who's most like the way I feel.

Of all your accomplishments, what do you most want to be known for?

I want to be known for being a good guy, a good friend, and a morally sound, highly ethical person. Is there anything better than someone saying, "God, he's such a good guy?"

Terry Bradshaw Superbowl
Terry Bradshaw Superbowl

This interview has been edited and condensed.


NAME: Terry Paxton Bradshaw 

BORN: Sept. 2, 1948 (age 71) in Shreveport, Louisiana

EDUCATION: Graduated from Louisiana Tech University 

FOOTBALL CAREER: Selected by Pittsburgh Steelers in 1970 NFL Draft. Threw “Immaculate Reception” pass in 1972, among the most famous plays in NFL history. Threw for 209 yards in Super Bowl X in 1975, including 64-yard touchdown pass, which NFL Films has selected as the "greatest throw of all time."

ENTERTAINMENT CAREER: Has appeared in TV commercials, had cameo roles in TV shows, and starred in the film Failure to Launch. Sports analyst and cohost of Fox NFL Sunday since 1994. Recorded six albums of country western and gospel music and made the Top 20 on Billboard's country chart. Cowrote No Easy Game (1973), Terry Bradshaw, Man of Steel (1979), Looking Deep (1989), It’s Only a Game (2001), and Keep it Simple (2002).

HONORS: Named NFL's Most Valuable Player (1978, 1979) and All-Pro and All-AFC (1978). Inducted into Louisiana Tech Sports Hall of Fame (1984), Louisiana's Sports Hall of Fame (1988), Pro Football Hall of Fame (1989), College Football Hall of Fame (1996). Won four Super Bowl titles (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979). Led Steelers to eight AFC Central championships. Is the only NFL player with a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.

TRANSPORTION: Owns Learjet 31A and Learjet 40XR

PERSONAL: Owns homes on Big Island of Hawaii and in Sarasota, Florida, and a ranch in Oklahoma. Married four times. Two daughters, Rachel, 32, and Erin, 30, with third wife. Married since 2014 to Tammy, who was his girlfriend for more than a decade before that. Tammy has a daughter, Lacey, 30, and two grandchildren, Zurie, 6, and Jebadiah, 2.