If you’re like me during the COVID-19 pandemic, your TV viewing habits have consisted of two guilty pleasures: reality TV and, of late, the return of live sports.
Terry Bradshaw is synonymous with live sporting events, as he’s helped set up NFC matchups on FOX’s NFL coverage since 1994. A Pro Football Hall of Famer, four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and broadcast icon, Bradshaw is adding reality TV star to his resume with his new show, “The Bradshaw Bunch,” premiering on hayu Canada on Friday, Sept. 18.
I caught up with Bradshaw ahead of the premier of his new show, which will release new episodes for stream or download every Friday, in anticipation of the Week 2 NFL schedule to find out what he’s looking for, what players he loves to watch and how playing in his era compares to playing now.
Sportsnet: Did you ever think you’d be doing a reality show?
Terry Bradshaw: Well, actually, this is my second reality show.
I did a show with NBC called “Better Late Than Never,” which is about a bunch of old actors and football players and boxers – George Foreman, Henry Winkler, William Shatner and a young comedian named Jeff Dye. We travel around the country, and we did that show for two years and then thought we were going back out. NBC pulled the plug on it. And that was it. So, I have done one before this one.
This show was brought to me by Jason Ehrlich, who was executive producer of “Better Late Than Never.” He had come to a birthday party and he had seen my three girls and how they interacted with me and how much fun we had together. Light bulb went off.
I said, ‘OK, let’s do this.’ Away we went.
SN: We’ve all consumed more TV during the pandemic. What are you watching? What reality shows do you watch?
TB: “Duck Dynasty” was pretty much it. That’s the only reality show I watch. I’m not a reality guy. I’m an old movies guy. I like to watch old movies. My wife, she likes to watch old movies. We love documentaries and we love sporting events. So glad they are back.
SN: On your NFL show on FOX, you’ve got a couple of co-hosts who have done some reality shows themselves. Have they weighed in?
TB: Howie thinks it’s going to be a hit. Jimmy thinks the same thing. He thinks it’s going to be funny. Michael Strahan was kind of surprised that I would do something like this, but he thinks it will be good.
All of them are very, very encouraging. They’re very polite because they’re really good friends. Now, the show airs Friday, though. By Sunday, when I get there Sunday, they may go, ‘T.B., what were you doing?’ They might be getting ready to rib me waiting for me in my parking spot on Sunday. But otherwise, everybody’s asking, ‘When’s the show? When’s it going to be on?’
And it’s about my family. They know my family. They know my grandkids. So, you know, they’re very supportive right now.
SN: The reality show that you help bring to us as viewers is the NFL. Looking at the star character of the league, Patrick Mahomes and his big arm, you have something in common with him: when you played you were known for your arm talent. How do you evaluate the way guys like Mahomes can spin it now?
TB: I think Mahomes has got a good arm. He doesn’t have a howitzer, but he can throw it. He’s very good in traffic. Great peripheral vision, throws it from all angles, very accurate, good under pressure, quick release. Tremendous talent.
We’ve got other guys. The guy who played against him in Week 1, Deshaun Watson. He can really spin it and probably spin it a little better than Patrick. He’s not Patrick Mahomes, but is awfully good. We’ve got Ben Roethlisberger who can really throw.
But the face of our league is, you’re right, Patrick Mahomes from Kansas City. That is just a special talent and fun to watch any time. He’s one of the few players that I know, he’s on television, I’m watching that. Of course, my wife is a Kansas City Chiefs fan, so I have to be careful when I’m on the air. Stay off of our boy, she says, because he sent her a signed helmet. And so, you know what that means. He bought my mouth.
SN: But I mean, the Pittsburgh Steelers helped you buy your house. So how does that work?
Well, she knows for a fact that if it went between Pittsburgh and Kansas City, you’re history. That’s where you draw the line. Let’s not get crazy here. I mean, I spent 14 years at this organization. We won a lot of Super Bowls.
SN: If you had to build the perfect QB from the guys playing right now – you could Frankenstein it up – how would you build it?
TB: I would start with the strength of Roethlisberger.
I would follow that up with Tom Brady. I mean, there’s so many guys that have the clutch gene. He is very much clutch. He’s great in the fourth quarter. He’s great in overtime. It’s just amazing. I probably take Brady’s calmness under pressure.
I’ll take Drew Brees for accuracy. Escape ability, athleticism and the ‘wow’ factor is Mahomes.
Three out of the four quarterbacks have strong arms. Probably fans would have no idea the strongest arm of all of them – Brady believe it or not has a very strong arm.
I’ve got a pretty good answer. You take those four players; I got a pretty good quarterback. Yeah, you win some games there.
SN: You’re in your 70s. You’ve got so much energy, but you mentioned Tom. He’s 43 now and still playing. Can you imagine that?
TB: Yes, I can imagine playing nowadays at that age as much as I love playing. Had I not gotten hurt, my goal was to play and last to 40. I missed that target as I was 33.
But I missed it by seven years. So, I can’t imagine. But I also understand it. Why not? Listen to what a young man does. A kid does. He dreams of playing in the NFL. It’s his passion. And he gets there, and the dream comes true. And then it’s, ‘I want to win championships’ and that comes true. And there’s just nothing greater in life. Experiencing your dream unfold in front of you. And you have tremendous success at what you envision is the greatest job in the world, playing quarterback in the National Football League.
So, yeah, I certainly can get it. Why would you want to retire when you’re doing what you want to do? You love what you want to do. You have a good team around you. So, you’re competitive and you’re making tons of money. Why give that up? So, I don’t blame him whatsoever. I got hurt. And once it was over, you can’t go back. I’m proud of what he’s doing and all of what he’s doing. There is not many guys willing to do what he is doing – this, you know, vegetable ice cream and stuff like that.
God bless him for that. Sounds like horrible, horrible ice cream. If I’m eating ice cream, I’m eating real, peach ice cream. That’s the real deal.
SN: Absolutely (laughs). Is today’s game easier for quarterbacks now than when you played?
TB: Yeah, absolutely.
Professional football in Canada or in the National Football League, to play the position of quarterback, it’s not easy to handle the pressure, block everything from your mind, separate coverages, deliver the ball without realizing that people are hanging all over you.
I’ve got one of the greatest pictures, most exciting pictures I have of myself: just all you see are people and at the very top of my hand with the football coming out of my hand and you can hardly see me.
That is the coolest picture I have ever seen. I just love that it shows me that I’m oblivious to what’s around me. And that’s what you have to have to play quarterback.
It is easier to play in the sense that when I played in the ’70s, you could get hit, you could get body slammed. You didn’t have a suspension helmet, early part of my career, no chinstraps. I mean, the rules were changed back in the late ’70s. It slowly started changing to where you couldn’t jab or jam a receiver at the line of scrimmage up to five yards. Get your hands off of it as opposed to bump-and-run all over the football field.
So, it’s a totally different game. The game you see today in the NFL is the old AFL of the ’60s. That’s why I’ve often said 40, 50 times passing is the reason they did it because passing the football is exciting. And the NFL of the first 70 years from the first day, up to about ’78, was just hard run, run, run, play action, run, run. Boring.
And the merger of the AFL and NFL was predominantly because the AFL was gaining. They were garnering ratings, taking them away from CBS, and it was because their brand of football was exciting. It was really fun to watch.
And what you’re seeing today is the ’60s of the AFL, especially in the last year. It’s so much fun to watch.