Terry Bradshaw has earned millions but one story shows that he never let the fame change him

I always wonder why some people don’t let fame change them, and others do. But in the case of Terry Bradshaw, you don’t have to wonder – he’s for real, funny as hell, and, most important, has never forgotten where he came from.

To me, he’s definitely one of the top five celebs I would choose to hang out with. He’s always laughing, funny, and seems to have a love for people and life in general. Sometimes it feels like he’s just a good guy who happens to be a hall of fame football guy and a multi-millionaire to boot. 

That’s why it’s so sad to hear that he has fought a hard health battle during the last year…

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, 1970

Upbringing and early

Terry Bradshaw, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, was born in 1948 in Shreveport, Louisiana. As a young boy, Terry was raised right and taught well. He learned social responsibility, and the Bradshaw household was permeated with a robust work ethic.

His father was a United States Navy veteran and a Southern Baptist layman. Terry’s mother, Novis, stayed at home and raised Terry and his two brothers. Novis, a devoted Christian, made sure everything worked in sync – she was the one who drove Terry and his brothers to school and practices.

”He was just a regular little boy, very active, very mischievous, very loving,” Novis told The Pittsburgh Press in 1980.  

Bradshaw in 1967

It was Terry’s sports-minded father who introduced him to football and Little League. Early on, it was evident that Terry had a talent outside of the ordinary. Even in his younger youth, he had already decided that he wanted to go all in to become a professional football player.

”That’s all you heard out of that child – football, football and that’s all he did. I mean from little up. That’s all he ever did. He had a football in his hand”, Novis explained in 1989.

”There was not anything ever given to him. He had to work and he did and he was determined that ’I’m gonna do it’. Because he wanted it so bad.”

Road to fame

As a teenager, Terry attended Woodlawn High School and soon made a name for himself on the Woodlawn Knights football team. Terry led his teammates to the AAA state championship game in 1965, but they lost the final. However, Terry could still look back on a fantastic season – he shattered the state record, throwing 22 touchdown passes.

During his time in high school, Terry got a lot of attention for another national record when he threw the javelin 245 feet (74.68 m). After that, he ended up in Sports Illustrated when the paper wrote a piece about the promising Louisana athlete.

James Flores / Getty Images

After high school, Bradshaw would end up at Louisiana Tech University. By this point he was recognized as the most outstanding college football player in the country. To be honest, Bradshaw was already known for being a super talent when he arrived at Tech in 1966, but at LSU he proved to everyone that he was the real deal.

When Bradshaw graduated, he had grown into a star. He crushed every Louisiana Tech passing record at the time and in many ways became a legend at LSU; he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Louisiana Tech sports hall of fame.

But it was far from obvious that Terry would choose LSU, a school that wasn’t even a Division I school at the time.

”I didn’t want to go to LSU,” Bradshaw said. “They didn’t throw the football. They do this year, right? But they never had thrown it. Matter of fact, I’ve always said they haven’t had a great quarterback ever. Even when they had Bert Jones, they didn’t use him properly.”


After two seasons, he even tried to transfer to Florida State because he liked their playing style better. Louisiana Tech, however, blocked the transfer and Bradshaw stayed at LSU.

First pick in the draft

Unsurprisingly, Bradshaw went as the first pick in the 1970 NFL Draft. There was no question of who would go first, and when the Pittsburgh Steelers got the chance, they never hesitated.

At that time, the Steelers were a lousy team, which was why they were awarded with the first pick in the draft. The Steelers hoped that Bradshaw could help their franchise reach new heights, and the young quarterback arrived in “the Steel City” with incredibly high expectations on his shoulders. Would he be able to handle the pressure?

President Nixon compares hands with Terry Bradshaw / Getty

It turned out to be tough.

According to Bradshaw, the adjustment to NFL and the big city life wasn’t easy. He struggled.

”You have to understand, now, I’m a momma’s boy. I’m from the south. My way of being raised is totally different than the big city life. I truly was a country boy,” Terry said.

Terry Bradshaw at his Quarter Horse ranch in Louisiana.

Hammered by the media

Despite his enormous talent and excellent throwing arm, Terry had to fight hard during his first years in the league. His first season with the Steelers wasn’t bad – but it was nothing out of the ordinary either. Sure, Terry lifted his team and made his teammates better, but that wasn’t enough in the eyes of many.

As a result, fans and experts began to doubt the young quarterback.

Unfortunately, Bradshaw also had to deal with an absurd rumor. People and opponents claimed that he was ”dumb” and that he ”couldn’t spell ‘cat’ if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘t.’


”And I was just a good old Southern kid. I was a nice guy, but, if you talked like this – and I threw a lot of interceptions my rookie year. And this one guy said, ‘well, he can’t read defenses, so therefore he’s got to be stupid.’ The image thing hurt. I didn’t trust people. I didn’t like ‘em. I didn’t like ‘em, I didn’t like going around the city. I don’t like stickin’ my head out. People weren’t nice to me and I understand that. But, at the same time, when we did start winning, Scott, I never allowed myself to be accepted because I remember how painful it was for five years,” Bradshaw told Scott Ross in Fox network’s NFL Sunday program. 

After an injured shoulder, a failed marriage, and the burden of a lot of self-doubt, Bradshaw’s NFL career was in danger. But things would soon turn.

In his autobiography, Bradshaw gave one of the explanations for this:

“I had separated myself from God. I lived only for Terry Bradshaw, not for God. I tried to be one of the boys and went to every honky-tonk I could find and chased women and behaved in a way that was totally alien to anything I had ever known before … my whole life was out of control … I was trying to be someone else and was doing a rotten job of it,” he wrote.

Terry Bradshaw #12 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches the action from the bench circa mid 1970’s during an NFL football game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bradshaw played for the Steelers from 1970-83. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

At the beginning of the 1974 season, Bradshaw started on the bench. But something changed when he finally got the chance during the regular season. Bradshaw began to play the football of his life. In the end, he led the Steelers to an impressive 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX.

That was the beginning of one of the most powerful dynasties in NFL history. Over six years, Pittsburgh won four Super Bowl titles (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979). Bradshaw also became the first quarterback to win three and four Super Bowls.

After 14 seasons in the NFL, Bradshaw was forced to retire early, just before 1984. It came as a surprise for many, but Bradshaw had dealt with injuries for a long time.

Terry Bradshaw gets medical attention on the bench during Super Bowl X at the Orange Bowl on January 18, 1976 in Miami, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Cowboys 21-17.
(Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)

First, a number of hard tackles had taken a toll on his body, and his famous passing arm had also started to weaken. In addition, he had significant problems with his elbow. He tried to operate on the latter, but started playing too early after the surgery, thus damaging it permanently.

Broadcasting career

After his retirement from football, the former Pittsburgh Steeler would embark on a career in television, and eventually, the former NFL star became one of America’s favorite sportscasters.

Bradshaw had already been a guest commentator for CBS Sports during his active career, but in 1984 he was hired by the company on a permanent basis. As an NFL game analyst, he developed a much-appreciated partnership with play-by-play announcer Verne Lundqvist.

Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers talks with CBS commentator Terry Bradshaw after the Packers defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI January 26, 1997 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana . The Packers won the game 35-21. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

In 1990, Bradshaw was promoted to television studio analyst, but his time with CBS would soon come to an end due to the emergence of Fox Sports.

Bradshaw joined Fox Sports in 1995 when the company snatched the NFL broadcast rights away from CBS. Fox grew rapidly as a network but needed sports rights to strengthen its brand. So they added a slightly different, lighter approach to football in an attempt to attract new fans. Signing Bradshaw played a big part in this. On the premiere of Fox NFL Sunday, Bradshaw was dressed as a cowboy and rode in on a horse.

Bradshaw realized that he loved to make people laugh. So he started hosting The Terry Awards, an annual comedic award show about the NFL season. His country background has always given him the reputation of being the “ol’ redneck,” but Bradshaw proved over time that he’s an incredibly versatile and appreciated media personality.

He is just plain fun. No doubt he could’ve been a comedian in another life.

Fox Sports broadcaster Terry Bradshaw and Sir Paul McCartney sing a duet of “A Hard Day’s Night” during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVI at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana February 3, 2002. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

Viewers also loved him, and in 2002, Bradshaw was voted America’s Favorite Sportscaster in a TV Guide Reader’s Poll.

In addition to his broadcasting job at Fox, Bradshaw has also made a career in Hollywood. During the years, he has appeared in several commercials. He has also had a lot of cameo appearances in shows and on the silver screen. Bradshaw was also the first NFL player to star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – that says it all! 

Terry Bradshaw speaks onstage during day 2 of SiriusXM at Super Bowl LIV on January 30, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM )

As for today, he’s starring in his new, popular reality show. The Bradshaw Bunch premiered on E! in 2020 and was renewed in 2021. Terry, who has been married four times, thinks it will be difficult to do another season.

“We don’t have near enough drama,” he said. “But that’s not what this is supposed to be about. Could we get a 20-year run like the Kardashians? No. We can’t do that. But … the whole idea behind this show for us is we were not going to do this show if they tried to create drama for us,” he told Tulsa World.

Net worth and salary

A hard work ethic has always characterized Terry Bradshaw, and has taken him to where he is today. For today’s football players, this is unthinkable, but the fact is that Bradshaw actually worked as a car salesman during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. To supplement his income during the off-season, he sold used cars. This was during a time when most NFL players were not earning that much, let alone what players can get today.

Fox Sports host and former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw looks on prior to Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

“I signed with Pittsburgh for $25,000 rookie year, $5,000 raise next year, and $100,000 signing bonus spread out over 10 years. Compare that to today, and you say to yourself, ‘They’re paying that guy $135 million, and he ain’t worth three and a half!’” Terry once said in an interview with Parade.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Bradshaw also sold peanut butter under its own name. He has also written several books and recorded country music – all of which, of course, bolstered his income.

After his retirement, Terry chose to invest heavily in real estate. He owned properties in Texas, Oklahoma, and Mexico, worth $13 million in total. Needless to say, he lost a lot in the real estate crash of 2008.

Today, the highest income comes from his job as a sports broadcaster. Terry Bradshaw’s annual TV salary is $1 million. The former NFL star has a total net worth of $25 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Hall of Fame quarterback and FOX NFL Sunday analyst Terry Bradshaw looks on during the preseason game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Sportscasters’ salaries

Terry Bradshaw is far from the highest-paid sportscasters in the nation. For example, Tony Romo and CBS agreed to an enormous deal in 2020.

According to the journalist Andrew Marchand, CBS is paying Romo around $17 million per season. Bradshaw’s colleague on Fox NFL Sunday, Curt Menefee, known for his energetic style of commentating, makes $3 million per year, according to Daily Choices. Another sports analyst at the show, Howie Long, earns an annual salary of $4 million.

Here a some other sportscasters’ salaries:

Bonnie Bernstein – MSNBC, Fox: $1 million per year.

Billy Ray Brown – CBS: $2 million per year.

Jeff Van Gundy – ESPN: $16 million per year.

Ahmad Rashad – NBC, ABC: $500,000 per year.

Mike Patrick – ESPN: $6.5 million per year.

Heartwarming story

So, let’s move on to that heartwarming story we mentioned earlier.

In many ways, I think it defines who Terry Bradshaw really is. The incident took place in November 2020, when an individual ran into some problems with his car battery in Gainseville, Texas. The man was trying to start his vehicle when Terry suddenly appeared and offered a helping hand. The anonymous driver had no idea of the legend who was trying to help out.

Terry Bradshaw during “Failure to Launch” New York City Premiere – Arrivals at Clearview Chelsea West Theater in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/FilmMagic)

Bradshaw opened his hood and took out jump leads to help the desperate man. When one of the cars finally came to life again and started, Bradshaw shouted “touchdown”! The man who received help then went into a nearby Pack’ N’ Mail store. It was then, and only then, that he became aware that he had received support from a four-time Super Bowl champion.

“He had no idea who was helping him until he came in the store to use the computer and we told him,” Cindy Hurt Hammer, who filmed the sweet moment, told NBC 5.

Terry Bradshaw cancer

In October 2022, the 74-year-old Terry Bradshaw revealed that he’s been battling cancer twice in during last year. Last week, the former football star scarred a lot of people when he ran out of breath on live tv. Terry had to be helped up by Howie Long and that sparked rumors.

Now, Terry has finally spoken out.

“In November, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I went to the Yale University Medical Center – surgery, treatment. As of today, I am bladder-cancer free. That’s the good news,” Bradley, who currently co-hosts Fox NFL Sunday, said.

Sadly, he would get another cancer diagnosis soon after his first one.

“Then in March, feeling good. I had a bad neck. I get an MRI. Now we find a tumor in my left neck. And it’s a Merkel cell tumor, which is a rare form of skin cancer. So I had that surgery done at M.D. Anderson in Houston”.

“Folks, I may not look like my old self, but I feel like my old self. I’m cancer free, I’m feeling great. And over time, I’m going to be back to where I normally am.”

Sending prayers of continued healing and recovery for you Terry

Terry Bradshaw is a “what see is what you get” kinda guy. He’s for real & funny as hell. I’m sure he’s not always sunshine and smiles, but he damn sure makes it seem that way.

More people should choose to be this happy.