This is the absolutely guaranteed 100% mostly true story of the man who gained sports immortality as the first quarterback to win four Super Bowls. After ending his playing career, he was voted "America's most popular sports broadcaster" in a nationwide vote.
"I had a real job once..." begins a memoir as honest and downright hysterical as Bradshaw himself. From his humble beginnings in Shreveport, Louisiana, to his success as the centerpiece of the highest rated football studio show in television history, Terry has always understood the importance of hard work. A veritable jack-of-all-trades, he has probably held more jobs than any other football Hall of Famer ever, from being a pipeline worker, a youth minister, a professional singer, actor, television and radio talk show host, to one of the nations's most popular speakers.
But let's not forget why so many people know and love Terry Bradshaw: he won four Super Bowls -- and as he will remind you: "I called my own plays." Terry brings the listener into the huddle and describes the game from the bottom of a two-ton pile to the top of the sports world. You'll sit right on the 50-yard line and watch as Terry earns the title: world's greatest bench-warmer. And you'll also hear about the single greatest play in pro footballthe Immaculate Reception -- as he never saw it.
It's Only a Game is the personal account of a great man's search for life before and after football...as only Terry could tell it.
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Terry Bradshaw was a four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is currently co-host of Fox NFL Sunday.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I had a real job once. It was back about 1990. My ex-wife-to-be and I had moved to Dallas so she could get her law degree and I could learn how to play golf. I was determined to become a good golfer, but the ball seemed about equally determined to go wherever it wanted to go. I was playing golf four days a week and started feeling guilty about it. My buddies couldn't play when I wanted to because they all had jobs. And suddenly it dawned on me that I had never had a real American nine-to-five job. I'd worked hard my whole life and done a lot of different jobs; I'd done all the chores on a farm from baling hay to making buttermilk, I'd been a spot welder and worked on the oil pipelines, I'd been a youth minister. I'd been a pro football quarterback and won four Super Bowls -- and called all my own plays -- I'd been a television broadcaster, I'd sung professionally and made several CDs, I'd acted on TV and in the movies and coauthored two books. I'd been the world's worst cattleman and owned a horse ranch. I'd been a public speaker, a product spokesman, I'd done commercials, infomercials, and endorsements. I'd worked all my life, just the way I'd been taught by my father.
But I'd never had a real, honest-to-goodness get-up-in-the-morning-when-you're-too-dad-blamed-tired-to-look-in-the-mirror-and-see-this-creature-look-back-at-you-and-think-oh-my-goodness-gracious-and-get-dressed-in-a-tie-and-jacket-and-drive-downtown-in-rush-hour-traffic-having-to-listen-to-Gus-and-Goofy-on-the-radio-and-finally-arrive-at-the-office-to-face-a-pile-of-papers type of job. So I told my wife, "I got to get me an honest-to-goodness nine-to-five real job."
"What?" she said. I have to admit that the things I did often surprised my wife. Well, it wasn't personal -- they often surprised me too.
"I got to get a job." My self-esteem was suffering because all I was doing was playing golf. I was feeling very guilty that I was a fully grown man making my living as a sports personality. I felt that I was not part of mainstream America. Somehow it didn't seem right that I could be having so much fun without even knowing how to use a computer, send an e-mail, or even get on the Internet. It wasn't natural.
So I went out and got a job -- at Lady Love Cosmetics. So help me Butkus this is absolutely true. My job was to launch a line of shampoos, conditioners, and fragrances for men primarily to be sold at sports clubs.
We were going to change the aroma of the locker room. I went down to the chemical lab and started sampling the different choices of fragrances for our products.
I didn't know how to have a job. So I bought a briefcase, and each morning I would buy the Wall Street Journal, wrap it around my Sports Illustrated, and put it into my briefcase. I'd put on a starched shirt, a tie, and a jacket and go to my office at Lady Love Cosmetics, feeling proud that people could look at me and say, "That boy has a job." At my job I had a little office and I had a secretary that I shared with another man, and that was definitely fine with me because otherwise she would not have had anything to do. I had a phone, and I would call people to tell them, "I'm calling from my job."
I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn't a very good cosmetics salesman. The truth is I really didn't want to sell cosmetics, I just wanted to have a job. I would go to meetings and sit quietly, occasionally nodding my head, but I didn't understand the terminology any more than those people would have understood my play calling. I didn't even know how to read the stock market results, but I still bought stocks, because that's what people did when they had a job. And from that job I learned a very important lesson.
I didn't want to have a job. For almost five months I went to work every morning, just like my buddies. The big problem with my job was that my office window overlooked the eighth fairway of a beautiful golf course, and every day the sun would be shining, the birds would be singing, and I'd be sitting up there watching people playing golf and thinking, Man, I sure wish I didn't have a job. My lunch hour began getting longer and longer till it stretched from about noon to the next morning, and nobody seemed to notice. Soon my lunch break took the whole entire day, starting with a lunch breakfast. Finally I quit, although apparently it took a long time before people noticed I wasn't just on my lunch break, and I did the very thing I should have done months earlier: I found some other people who didn't have real jobs either who could play golf with me.
But it didn't make that feeling that I needed to do something more go away. Nor, truthfully, did it make my golf game better. The fact is I'd had feelings like that my whole life. No matter what I achieved, it didn't seem to satisfy me. In high school I set the national record for throwing the javelin, but I desperately needed to throw it farther. I won four Super Bowls -- calling my own plays, thank you very much -- and I had to win five. I was the number-two broadcaster at CBS behind the greatest announcer in the entire history of football, John Madden, and I was so unhappy I was ready to quit. Finally I decided to find out why I just couldn't be satisfied living a wonderful life. I went to see a professional therapist.
That didn't work very well at all. I was afraid the therapist wouldn't think that my real problems were very interesting, so I made up a whole character for him. A whole other person. I was actually embarrassed that my problems weren't big enough. I wanted him to be happy that I was so messed up. I wanted him to be able to tell people, Oh man, that Terry Bradshaw has great problems. I just felt that if I told him, I drank too much on Thursday night, or I love beautiful women, or I'm not good with details, he'd be bored. I wanted to have the best problems of any patient he'd ever seen. I wanted Super Bowl-size problems. So I had to make them up.
That was hard for me to do. So I only had two visits. But because I didn't want him to feel like a failure, I told him I was cured. It was a miracle, I told him, he was the greatest counselor I ever saw; two visits and cured.
The truth is that the person I had been telling him about was cured. Me? I felt guilty about lying to my counselor. So I had to start seeing another therapist to resolve my guilt about lying to my first therapist.
There really has been only one thing in my life that has made me feel complete, and that is the game of football. The ability to throw a football was my God-given talent. That was my blessing and my passion; that was my calling in life, and everything that I've accomplished has derived from that. When I was four years old, I would wad up a piece of paper and spend hours lying on the floor throwing it up and down. As I got a little older I'd lie in bed at night throwing my football against the ceiling. Thump! Thump! My dad would yell, "Terry, put the football down right now and go to sleep!" and I would. But five minutes later, thump! Thump! My best friend Tommy Spinks and I would throw the football for hours in our backyard until we couldn't do it anymore. Throwing a football was the most fascinating thing in the world to me. We never got tired or bored, we jut ran out of day.
I got a new football every year. I'd take cordovan polish and just shine it up. As I learned, the more you throw inexpensive footballs, the bigger they get. Those footballs would literally swell up. Eventually the laces would split, I'd take the laces out of my shoes and pull it back together. I loved that, because the bigger the football got, the lighter it got, and the farther I could kick it. In my backyard one day, trust me, this is absolutely true, I popped that baby and it didn't leave my foot good and it -- blew up! Bam! Scared me to death. Then there was this real sad-looking flat piece of leather lying there on the ground. Dad, I told him, I kicked that football so hard it just exploded on me. My dad replied real quiet, Don't you go telling no stories, son. Okay, Dad.
I suspect I inherited my love for the game from my father, W. M. "Tennessee Bill" Bradshaw. He encouraged us to play. At times we'd have a dozen kids in my backyard playing football. We had a window with twelve panes of glass; the record we set for one-day breakage was seven. My father used to keep extra panes of glass and putty handy. If we needed an extra player, my mother would jump right in. Maybe she was a step slow going to her right, but we never held it against her. It was in that backyard that she lost most of her teeth.
I played my first game of organized football when I was nine years old. The first person I ever tried to tackle was Tony Poppa. I weighed seventy-five pounds; he was as big then as he was when he went to college. He was Superman. The stud. I was playing safety, and Tony Poppa came roaring through the line right at me. I was the only roadblock between him and the goal line. I saw him coming at me. And I knew a long time before Tony that he was about to make an eighty-yard run for a touchdown. I wasn't real committed to putting my body in front of him. I believe it was at that moment that I decided my future in football was as a quarterback.
I didn't know how to make a tackle. I closed my eyes, lowered my head, and threw all seventy-five pounds of myself at him -- and missed completely. Proving once again that there is a God.
I wasn't a very big kid. Often now parents will come up to me and tell me proudly, "That boy of mine there, he wears a size 13 shoe!" Meaning that everybody who's got a big foot is going to be six-foot-six and a football star. "Terry, look at my boy's foot. What do you think about that foot?"
"Oh my," I always say, "that boy's got a nice foot." But what I'm really thinking is, He's a chubby little thing, isn't he? And then I notice that the man who is telling me this also has big feet, but he's five-foot-nine, and he's a welder.
I didn't have big feet, and my father was a welder. What I did have was a big heart and a big arm. The first position I played was offensive guard. Maybe I didn't know how to block, but I was always willing to listen to my coaches and learn. That never changed. Never. Even a lifetime later, after a fourteen-year professional career, I still don't know how to block.
After seeing how well I blocked, my coaches moved me to tailback. They handed me the ball and let me run with it. Oh, I liked that a lot, right up until the part in the play where the big guys caught you and everybody jumped on top of Terry. You okay down there, Terry?
So I became the quarterback. I was born with a strong throwing arm. Me and both my brothers, Gary and Craig, had very strong arms. Some families inherit intelligence, others get good looks; we got right arms. My younger brother, Craig, in fact, also became a number-one draft pick. Of course, as he likes to tell people, he was the first pick the second day of the draft.
We grew up mostly in Shreveport, Louisiana, though we lived briefly in Comanche, Iowa. I spent most of the summers of my childhood on my grandparents' forty-acre farm in Hall Summit, which was about twenty-five miles and fifty years south of Shreveport. Pawpaw, my granddad, had animals, crops, a salt shed, and a two-hole outhouse on the farm. You had to walk through the briar patch to get to that outhouse. You knew your family had made it big when you had a two-holer out there. How many holes you got, Terry? We got two! Two! Damn, Terry, you sure gettin' fancy. I'd go in that outhouse with the Sears catalog and when I was sure nobody was around, I'd turn to the brassiere section and look at those pictures.
That was near as I got to knowing about sex in my childhood.
My brothers and I spent a lot of time back at that outhouse, shoveling and burying, fightin' off the bull flies. Those flies were so big we used to name 'em. Watch it, Craig, here comes Big Al again.
Pawpaw taught me how to plow a field, how to pick cotton and watermelons and cantaloupe. I had my own cotton-picking sack, and written on it in big letters was TP, Terry Pack. That's what all my relatives called me, Terry Pack. I learned how to thump a watermelon and tell from the sound how sweet it is. I learned how to drive a team of Clydesdales and stretch out a mink on a board so its eye sockets would dry out round. I learned how to pull a calf, and if the cow had a prolapsed uterus, I knew how to stuff it back in with brown sugar and sew it up with thread to save that cow and get her pregnant again the next year. I learned how to build a sweet potato shed and how to make buttermilk and paste.
It was four miles to town, and Pawpaw, particularly when I was little, would hook up the Clydesdales, Tony and Shorty, to his wagon and we'd ride to the cotton gin sitting on a bed of cotton. Then we'd go to the general store and buy fifty pounds of flour and ten pounds of Mrs. Tucker's Lard. We bought everything big, and everything got used. Mawmaw made her dresses out of the flour sacks. Pawpaw would make his own anvils and harnesses for the horses. On Saturday nights the men in the family would go into town to Slim's Barbershop for a haircut. I'd sit up on a board, and Slim would give me the high tight one. There were nine of us all getting the same haircut, and I'd listen to Slim and Pawpaw talk coon hunting. In the background the Grand Ole Opry was playing on the radio.
This is how I grew up. This was my foundation. This is my blood. This is where I learned my values. In my whole childhood I never heard an unkind word spoken about family. Nobody talked about one another. I learned my place, and I learned about love and trust, and more than anything, I learned on that farm in Hall Summit that it is the simple things in life that make all the difference.
In addition to football I played baseball and threw the javelin. In baseball, I was always a pitcher. I couldn't play any other position because I just couldn't stand still. I always had to be moving around, doing something. I learned how to throw the javelin by looking at the diagrams in the encyclopedia. Basically, the key to throwing it was...throwing it. And trying not to hit anybody. Unlike football, there are no plays in javelin throwing. The strategy is very simple: Throw it. Just throw that sucker as far as you can, and don't cross that little line. Just chunk it, put it out there. The track coach recruited me my sophomore year because he'd seen how far I could throw a football, and the team needed a few points in a meet. I didn't take it seriously. I don't think I ever threw it farther than 150 feet until the district meet. Then I threw it 175 feet and won the trophy. It was just a little aluminum thing, but it said "District First," and I loved it. It was like getting my varsity letter jacket in football; they gave me the heavy jacket in June, and I wore it proudly all summer. Sweated like a plow horse, but I wouldn't take it off because it was my letter jacket.
My junior year I competed against the state champion. This boy was a serious javelin chunker, and he definitely had big fe...
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