End of An Era in Pittsburgh

28 years ago today, was a sad day for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans.  On July 24, 1984, their beloved quarterback Terry Bradshaw retired from the NFL.

Bradshaw, played 14 seasons with the Black and Yellow, winning four super bowls in six years.  Growing up Louisiana, Bradshaw was a high school football star, and decided to play college ball at Louisiana Tech University.  After an impressive college career, Bradshaw was the number one overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft, as he was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Up until that time, the Steelers were the laughing stock of the whole league.  However, all that changed when they picked Bradshaw.

Even though I strongly dislike the Steelers, I admire Bradshaw very much.  He, along with the rest of the Steel Curtain turned Pittsburgh into the “City of Champions.” His first very big moment in the NFL came in 1972, with the famous “Immaculate Reception”, one of the more famous plays in NFL history.  His first Super Bowl victory came against the Minnesota Vikings in 1974 with a 16-6 victory.  The very next year, Bradshaw and the Steelers repeated as champions as they beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17.

In that era, Bradshaw was probably the toughest quarterback in the league, not just dealing with physical damage but also dealing with people questioning his intelligence. By January, 1979, Terry Bradshaw already had led the Pittsburgh Steelers to two Super Bowl Championships. He had the rings to prove it. But unlike Bart Starr and Bob Griese, quarterbacks who were treated like royalty after guiding their teams to victories in back-to-back Super Bowls, Bradshaw was seen as somehow different. He just did not seem to have the right stuff. He was talented enough. No one in the league threw a more powerful pass than Bradshaw, who could sting a receiver’s hands 50 yards downfield. At 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds, he was the ideal size and he was naturally gifted, all right. But he was a little rough around the edges. After eight NFL seasons, he still had not been selected to a Pro Bowl.  Even coach Chuck Noll doubted him at times, when he even benched him in 1974. 

With their Steel Curtain defense and powerful running game, the Steelers of the mid-seventies were able to win with the quarterback in a supporting role. Bradshaw didn’t seem to mind. He was happy just to be with a championship team.

That changed by 1978 as Bradshaw and the offense were required to carry more of the load. A rules change that prohibited contact with receivers five yards beyond the line of scrimmage suddenly opened up the passing game, and the Steelers tilted their playbook in Bradshaw’s direction. He responded by passing for 28 touchdowns (10 more than his previous career high) and was named the NFL’s most valuable player by the Associated Press.

Even so, when Bradshaw arrived in Miami for Super Bowl XIII-a rematch with Staubach and the Cowboys-he found his old stereotype waiting. Dallas linebacker Thomas (Hollywood) Henderson told reporters: “He [Bradshaw] is so dumb, he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him a C and an A.”  However, Bradshaw responded with an MVP performance, leading his team to a 35-31 victory.  The next year, Bradshaw and the Steelers made history winning their fourth super bowl, while Bradshaw was also the MVP of that game.  Bradshaw was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.

For 14 seasons Bradshaw remained and tough and represented the city of Pittsburgh, as the “City of Champions” continues to embrace him even to this day. 

 

 

 

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