Posterity will always remember Terry Bradshaw for throwing a pass to Frenchy Fuqua Dec. 23, 1972, that ended up, let’s say, going slightly off course, but there’s more to the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback than gridiron grandeur.
At the same time Bradshaw was collecting Super Bowl trophies and MVP honors, he landed a single on the Billboard country charts with a cover version – and a pretty decent one at that – of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” In the years since Bradshaw permanently removed his cleats and stashed his shoulder pads, he has dabbled in additional music-making, most of it in gospel, found steady work as a motivational speaker and television commentator and honed his thespian skills in such vehicles as “Smokey and the Bandit II” and “Failure to Launch.”
“I’m one of those (attention deficit disorder) children,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve never gotten bored. I always stay busy. Things are always coming to me.”
The multiple and varied interests of 65-year-old Bradshaw will be spotlighted in the stage show, “America’s Favorite Dumb Blonde … A Life in Four Quarters,” a traveling production that debuted in Las Vegas a year ago and will be at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino at 8 p.m. Saturday. Bradshaw is set to tell stories, crack some jokes and, yes, sing. He will be accompanied by the group dubbed the I-Qties, and a backing band called the Professors.
On a conference call last month with a handful of journalists from around the region, a voluble Bradshaw said, “It’s been a charmed life. I try not to sit around and go, ‘When is this coming to an end?’ I don’t look at life like that. I don’t think things come to an end.”
He is not the first high-profile athlete to take to the stage; though he is more beloved locally and lacks the formidable rap sheet, Bradshaw was preceded to the stage by onetime heavyweight champion Mike Tyson’s one-man show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” where he frankly dissects his own life and many weaknesses and stumbles. Tyson later took it on the road, but Bradshaw didn’t see it, and points out “my show is a little more funny.”
“They said (the Tyson show) was a little tough to take,” he added. “I admire athletes. I admire Joe Namath. I admire anyone who steps out of their comfort zone. The fact that you’ll do that says volumes about you as a person.”
Though he told his story before in print, through his 2011 autobiography, “It’s Only a Game,” and is a regular on the speaking circuit, Bradshaw said doing “America’s Favorite Dumb Blonde” is an entirely different beast.
“It’s a challenge to do a good show and not lose your focus,” he said. “I could have fallen flat on my ass … I’m a risk-taker.”
One thing that might not come up in the show is, um, that play.
“I will not talk about that play,” Bradshaw said, referring to the Immaculate Reception. “I’m tired of talking about that play.”
Otherwise, Bradshaw seems reasonably content with his lot. He confesses to some arthritic symptoms, thanks to his 14 years in professional football, as well as some short-term memory issues, which he traces back to all the hits he took on the field at Three Rivers Stadium and elsewhere.
But, all in all, “life is a good and I’m a happy guy.”