Whether you love him or hate him, virtually every football fan knows Terry Bradshaw. During his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the iconic quarterback won four Super Bowl titles; since then, he’s become a fixture on television. In college, though, Bradshaw sat on the bench behind another big name: Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson.
While both men are now celebrities in their own right, the hierarchy was a bit different at Louisiana Tech. Robertson was the starting quarterback; Terry Bradshaw didn’t get his shot until the incumbent QB decided to call it a career.
Terry Bradshaw’s successful time on the gridiron
These days, it’s easy to think of Terry Bradshaw as nothing more than a talking head telling stories about the good old days. During his time on the gridiron, however, he was quite the quarterback.
After making a name for himself in high school, Bradshaw headed to Louisiana Tech to play his college ball. While he didn’t see much action during his first two years on campus—we’ll discuss that later—he eventually stepped into the starting job; once he was under center, he became the star of an explosive offense.
Bradshaw then entered into the 1970 NFL draft. Thanks to a coin-flip, the Pittsburgh Steelers secured the first-overall pick; there were no questions about who they were going to select.
That move paid off in spades for the Steelers. Bradshaw went on to spend 14 seasons in Pittsburgh; while he was aided by some impeccable teammates, the quarterback still won 107 of his 158 starts. He also lifted four Lombardi Trophies, took home two Super Bowl MVP titles, and earned 1978 NFL MVP honors.
Backing up Phil Robertson at Louisiana Tech
Terry Bradshaw wasn’t always the big man on campus, though. While he arrived at Louisiana Tech as a highly-touted recruit, the team already had a starting quarterback: Phil Robertson.
While Robertson has since found fame and fortune away from the gridiron, he was a talented player in his day. In an ESPN.com piece, Doug Williams shared plenty of scouting reports; they’re pretty positive across the board.
“He had a good presence in the pocket,” defensive backs coach E.J. Lewis remembered. “He knew what he was doing back there. He had a good arm. I mean that booger could chuck that football. He was a good football player, a natural.”
“[Robertson] was tall and wiry, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds,” running back Bob Burnet explained. “He had a good arm, probably could have played at the next level in some capacity. He kept Bradshaw on the bench.”
Football, however, wasn’t in Robertson’s plans; after his junior season, he left the gridiron behind. When the next campaign began, Terry Bradshaw was under center and the rest is history.
Both Terry Bradshaw and Phil Robertson have done pretty well for themselves
When Phil Robertson decided to quit football, he reportedly told Terry Bradshaw, “I’m going for the ducks, you can go for the bucks.” Despite that statement, both men have done pretty well for themselves over the years.
While it’s been quite some time since Bradshaw last hit the gridiron, neither his star status nor his earning power has diminished. According to CelebrityNetWorth, he’s built up a $25 million fortune; between all of his endorsements and media appearances, that figure seems pretty realistic.
Robertson may night have pursued professional football, but still found his own path to fame and fortune. Thanks to Duck Commander and his reality TV stardom, he’s built up an estimated $10 million, according to CelebrityNetWorth’s numbers.
These days, both Terry Bradshaw and Phil Robertson are wealthy celebrities. If not for a single decision at Louisiana Tech, however, everything could have worked out much differently.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference