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Terry Bradshaw is a hard guy to ignore – not that you’d want to. The four-time Super Bowl champ has become a fixture of the American football tradition – known as much for his legendary professional career as for his informed yet brash commentary as a game analyst on Fox NFL Sunday. Quick-witted, and quick-to-laugh, it’s hard to imagine Bradshaw being challenged by much. But in recent years, Bradshaw has revealed his personal challenges, becoming an advocate for millions of others like him who have struggled with clinical depression and ADHD. His is a story of true natural talent, but also one of perseverance under unknowable circumstances.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Bradshaw comes by (what friends refer to as) his ‘Good Ole Boy schtick legitimately. A natural athlete, he set a national record for the javelin throw while he was still in high school (earning him his first mention in a Sports Illustrated feature). But it wasn’t until he began playing football at Louisiana Tech University that people truly started to take notice of his exemplary physical talents. His powerful throwing arm led to a junior year #1 ranking in the NCAA, and helped Louisiana Tech score a winning season and victory over Akron at the Rice Bowl. By his senior year, Bradshaw was considered by many pro scouts to be the most outstanding college player – an opinion that was amplified by his selection as the first draft pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1970.

His early NFL career was not without its setbacks. Although he was named to the Steelers’ starting line-up only one year into his pro career, coaches and commentators alike were not kind, criticizing his playing as erratic, and mocking his Southern roots. (This came in lockstep with jokes deriding Bradshaw as dim-witted. Knowing of his struggles with ADHD, one can only wonder how much more psychologically ruinous this kind of media attention had on the young player.) Once he adjusted to the unique demands of the professional league however, Bradshaw was a force to be reckoned with.

What happened then is now the stuff of NFL legend. His leadership (both as quarterback, and as an on-field play caller) propelled the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles, and eight AFC Central championships. During his distinguished career, Bradshaw was twice awarded the title of Super Bowl MVP, as well as being named to several All-Pro and All-AFC selections. A chronic elbow injury would eventually end his career in 1983, but his lasting impact on both the Steelers’ franchise, and the NFL will never be forgotten.

The Immaculate Reception

In the more than two decades since his football career ended, Bradshaw has become a modern Renaissance Man. In addition to sport broadcasting (for which he has been awarded 2 Emmy’s) he has also co-authored several books, built a successful horse breeding business, recorded several country/gospel albums, and parlayed his hard-won celebrity into numerous television and movie appearances.

His life-long struggle with depression has also played an important role, prompting him to discuss his story in an effort to remove the social stigmas surrounding the disease and urge sufferers to seek treatment. For those who remembered the golden boy of the NFL, and the new generation of fans watching his weekly game coverage, his brave willingness to discuss what most certainly is a deeply painful account is a revelation – that Terry Bradshaw, one of the most celebrated quarterbacks in NFL history faced his greatest rivals not on the field, but in his own mind – and won.