Steelers Legend Terry Bradshaw Never Understood Why His Critics Ripped His Intelligence: ‘I Was Too Good to Be True’

Pittsburgh Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw’s four Super Bowl rings should have been enough to silence the critics. Unfortunately for the Pro Football Hall of Famer, things are never that easy.

Bradshaw’s southern accent and “good old boy” personality made him an easy target for criticism throughout his legendary playing career. Near the end of his playing days, the star quarterback finally made it clear that he’d had enough.

Terry Bradshaw heard all of the jokes about his intelligence throughout his career

Pittsburgh Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw in 1977.
Pittsburgh Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw called it “ludicrous” that people constantly called him unintelligent during his playing career | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Terry Bradshaw became one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history without needing to qualify as a certified genius. If he has no problems with that, then why should anyone else?

However, Bradshaw spent most of his career confused with why his critics, especially in the media, went to such great lengths to insult his intelligence. In a 1980 interview with Playboy, the star quarterback reflected on his reputation as the “dumbest quarterback in the league.”

“I was big and strong and fast and had blond hair and stood for Mom and apple pie, and God bless America, and I love God, and I tote my Bible, and I pray, and I love Momma and Daddy. I was too good to be true. I’m sure it made a lot of people turn off. So the first chance they had an opportunity, they got me. The worst they could say was, ‘Obviously, the guy’s not very intelligent.'”

Terry Bradshaw

Bradshaw, who also called the commentary “sad” and “ludicrous,” admitted some of the critiques came after he made mistakes as a young player who was “still learning the game.” However, he felt there was a clear difference between a young player making a bad read and someone possessing low intelligence.

“Man, if you can write your name, you’re not dumb,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw has always been smarter than people make him out to be

Look, no one needs Bradshaw to be Ryan Fitzpatrick. Everyone is smart in their own unique way regardless of whether they went to Harvard.

Still, let’s remember that Bradshaw won four Super Bowl rings and commanded a Steelers offense during one of the modern NFL’s first dynasties. It says something about a player’s football smarts if they can be as successful as Bradshaw was throughout his career.

If you’re too young to have watched Bradshaw play for the Steelers, think about everything he does on Fox each week during the NFL season. He’s able to analyze what teams or players are doing clearly and coherently in a way that makes sense for the average fan at home.

This argument isn’t dissimilar to when the average Joe or Jane criticizes a strikeout-heavy player like New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. That fan, watching at home or a bar, insists they could do better at the plate than Stanton after a three-pitch strikeout with the bases loaded.

However, those same viewers would likely struggle to make contact against a 60 mph fastball. The 2017 NL MVP is regularly facing pitchers who throw in the high 90s. So if those armchair critics would likely fail against those ace relievers, how would they perform while playing quarterback in the NFL? Bradshaw wins that debate, no contest.

Bradshaw remains the butt of the joke among his Fox Sports colleagues

Bradshaw, to his credit, accepted being the butt of the joke among his critics. None of the jokes stopped him from getting the last laugh by enjoying the Super Bowl rings and a bronze bust in Canton, Ohio.

In modern times, Bradshaw’s colleagues on Fox NFL Sunday have taken the occasional jab over his intelligence and his age. The difference there, however, is his friends on the set are joking. 

If Michael Strahan calls Bradshaw old, the former quarterback can respond back with a dig about the Hall of Fame defensive end’s teeth, and everyone will laugh. That chemistry has existed on set for years and it’s only made the show more successful in the long haul.

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