Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw delivers a humorous and highly inspirational address to Maryland FCA

by Gary Adornato
The first thing NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw does each morning is sit at the end of his bed, take a deep breath and thank God he is alive.
Then he starts smiling and keeps smiling all day.
“Smiles can hide a lot of scars,” said Bradshaw, who despite his incredible success, both on and off the football field, admits his life journey has been filled with struggle and pain.
Speaking before a full house at the 2011 Maryland Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Celebration, Monday night, Bradshaw delivered a powerful message that was filled with humor and raw emotion.
Telling tales about his humble beginnings and the core values he developed growing up as a member of a poor Christian family in rural Louisiana, Bradshaw testified that he let God come into his life when he really needed him.
Bradshaw was not a blue chip high school recruit.  He only started one year for his high school football team.  He did, however, earn a scholarship offer to Louisiana State University, which he had to pass up because he could not meet the school’s academic requirements.
“My cholesterol score was higher than my ACT score,” joked Bradshaw, who wore a purple tie for his Baltimore audience but then chided the crowd about the inability of the Baltimore Ravens to beat Bradshaw’s Steelers when it matters most.
Instead of LSU, Bradshaw went to Louisiana Tech where he had a record setting college career and became the No. 1 draft pick of the Steelers in 1970.  Life as a pro got off to a rough start, however.
In his second year, Bradshaw became the Steelers’ starting quarterback and battled for the respect of his teammates.
“They said I stuttered in the huddle.  They said I was indecisive.  They said I was dumb,” recalled Bradshaw.  “Heck, I was calling my own plays as a first year starter in the pros.  It was tough.”
Bradshaw struggled with accuracy and interceptions during his first two seasons and was benched at the beginning of the 1974 season.  That was the lowest point.
“I was sitting in my room in Pittsburgh thinking about all of the things that were being said about me.  I was depressed and thinking how I could get out of this city,” said Bradshaw.
It was at that time that Bradshaw said he truly opened himself up to the Holy Spirit for the very first time.  He said it filled him with a joy and confidence he had never known and from that point he refused to let anything bother him.
He regained his starting job that season and led the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory.  By 1979 he had three more world titles and established himself as one of the winningest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Through it all, he remained grounded in the love for his family and the values they instilled in him.  It delivered him during those dark early days in Pittsburgh and has carried him through a brilliant career after football, as he has found success as an award winning studio host on Fox NFL Sunday, as an author, as a gospel singer and as a television and film actor.
“If you have a mama and a daddy, call ’em and tell ’em you love them,” Bradshaw told the audience.  “Even if you don’t get along or they can’t hear or understand you, tell them you love them.  It’s important.”
Bradshaw frequently flashed his famous humor, relating stories about former teammates and foes to his message.  He also had fun with former Baltimore Colt Stan White, who introduced Bradshaw, ribbing White for breaking his nose during a preseason game early in his career.
Bradshaw was on hand to aid the Maryland FCA in raising funds to support its work, especially its goal of sending 1,000 kids to summer camp.  Other local sports celebrities such as Rick Dempsey, Matt Stover and Quadry Ismail, among others, were also in the audience.
Dozens of local students active in FCA huddles were at the event and they took time to visit various tables to share their experiences in their schools and at camps.
If you would like to support the work of the FCA here in Maryland, please visit their website at www.mdfca.org.