Terry Bradshaw’s Secret to Career Longevity

Four-time Super Bowl champion, avuncular television football analyst and all-around entertainer Terry Bradshaw’s secret to career longevity? It’s winning the long game that counts. Here’s the play.

Go For It

My life has always been about attacking, taking chances, gambling. As a player, I’d much rather throw the football 20 yards than two. Five-yard passes are boring. I didn’t care about completion percentages as much as the big play. But beyond football, I’m not afraid of failure. If you do more things, you find more success—and more failures, too. The status quo never did suit me well.

Know When to Quit

After Super Bowl XIV, I was through. I thought winning four Super Bowls in nine years was pretty cool. I told my dad I wanted to retire. He asked me why, and I said, “Well, I seriously doubt we’re ever going to be back for another Super Bowl with this collection of athletes. We’ve been together eight to 10 years.” So I got into TV. But after doing a pilot for a show that didn’t get picked up, I came back to football. I ended up staying too long, and for the wrong reason: I didn’t know what else I was going to do.

Laugh at Yourself

When the image of me as a “dumb blond” came out in my football days, I knew it was the stupidest thing you could ever call anybody. I called my plays. Anybody else calling their own plays now? My way of protecting myself was by just going along with it. Still, on Fox NFL Sunday, all the jokes are on me. I don’t mind doing the goofy stuff. I’ve never said I was Einstein. And I don’t have a problem with people’s perception. I’m way, way, way past that.

Seek Help

Twenty-seven years ago I was diagnosed as clinically depressed, and told the world on TV. But that journey didn’t happen overnight. It took months of counseling. I went from a preacher to a psychologist to a psychiatrist. I sought help because I was so unhappy and I couldn’t understand why. It didn’t make sense. Great moments in my life were followed by horrible, horrible ones. People tend to say, “It’s so courageous to reveal you’ve got depression.” But it’s not an act of valor. I’m not overcoming any shame to talk about it. I’m proud of it. To think that coming out with [depression] is a sign of weakness is wrong. It has to be represented as an illness, period. I want nothing from it, other than to help people.

Try and Try Again

Former secretary of defense William Cohen once told me that you want to get to a place in life where you’re making money while you’re sleeping. Early on in Pittsburgh, I started Terry’s Peanut Butter. It was successful, but I ran out of peanuts! It rained, and the peanuts rotted out in the fields—we didn’t have future contracts on them. A few years ago, I tried again with another product, Bradshaw Bourbon. Fred Minnick, a world-renowned bourbon critic, did a blind tasting of bourbons under $60, and I came out No. 2.

Apologize Quickly

I did something terrible two years ago. I accused Howie Long and Michael Strahan of being on steroids, on air. I thought I was being funny. Michael wasn’t so upset by it, but Howie, who I’m very close to, let me know it hurt him during the commercial. It killed me. We came back on the air, and I apologized. I had to clear it up immediately because I didn’t want to hurt my friend.

Find Your Passion

As a kid, you’re introduced to a lot of things, and sometimes you stumble onto something that makes you go, “Wow.” For me, it was having an uncle on the road cutting horses. I’ve been around horses ever since and have registered over a thousand in my name. They don’t care what today’s been like, and they don’t care if you’re ugly or pretty or rich or poor. My wife and I will drive out, roll the windows down and just look at them.

Command an Audience

I’m 73. There’s a part of me that says, “How long can you do television?” There’s a bit of insecurity there. But I’m not through, I can tell you that. I live to entertain. Billy Graham said the minute you retire is the minute you start dying. But if I’ve got to go, I want to go on stage. What if I die on the Fox pregame show? I’d get the big numbers, right?

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