With Terry Bradshaw
Fox NFL Sportscaster & Former Quarterback
Friday. Oct. 4, 2002; 11 a.m. EDT
Before becoming an NFL quarterback, four time Super Bowl champion and two-time Emmy-winning television commentator Terry Bradshaw had to come to grips with the fact that he "wasn't very smart." In his new book "Keep It Simple," the Fox NFL Sunday co-host and popular inspirational speaker shares his thoughts on overcoming his attention deficit order, earning the respect of his peers and tackling life's most complicated problems.
Bradshaw was online to take questions and comments on his new book, football and his career.
The transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Terry Bradshaw: Hi.
Terry Bradshaw: Thanks for dialing up. Lets have some fun.
Washington, D.C.: Terry: What do you make of the most recent QB controversy in Pittsburgh? Can Maddox get it done for the Steelers and is Kordell done with the Steelers?
Terry Bradshaw: I think they should have started Kordell. Maddox is comfortable coming off the bench and Kordell isn't. Let it be known to Kordell that we won't be quite as patient this time. If he screws up again he will be out of there. I thought the decision is bad and I don't think he is done, but he has got to be consistent year in and year out and he has not been.
Bucks County, Pa.: Terry: No offense, but why can't they get some better writers for those television commercials that you do for that phone service? They are horribly written! And they make you look bad, which is inexcusable. Just tell them to get some better writers, so they'll have some less-embarrassing ads. Thanks.
Terry Bradshaw: Well I am sorry about the writing. I think that they write them that way so that I can remember them. I still think they have a plot, but I haven't been able to figure out what they are. I will pass on your advice - but don't forget that you did watch them!
Arlington, Va.: Hey, Terry. How involved are you in the day-to-day operations of your NASCAR team? Are you planning to keep Kerry Earnhardt in the car and go Winston Cup racing? Thanks.
Terry Bradshaw: My primary involvement is the sponsors. My partner Fitz is in charge of the day to day. We will keep Kerry for another season but we are also bringing on a second car and a second driver.
Chicago, Ill.: Greetings,
I'd disagree with one of the statements in the intro to the chat -- where you say you "wasn't very smart."
Anyone that can check off route coverage. dodge people really intent on harming you and hit Lynn Swann (et al) where they will be in five seconds has a grasp of spacial geometry that rivals the best brains in mathematics.
My son and I watch you on Fox. His ADD isn't as bad as mine. Even at his age, he doesn't disagree with one statement from his Dad -- that Terry Bradshaw is one of the smartest men on the face of the earth.
Terry Bradshaw: I appreciate that. But understand that when I criticize myself by saying I'm not smart, it is in a context hat is not relevant to physicists or wall street tycoons -- if it is just football I agree with you. That is why the title of the book is "Keep it Simple."
Burke, Va.: Excuse me because I haven't had the opportunity to read your book yet, but I am interested to know how you regulate your ADD. I have a wife and college-age son who are afflicted with ADD in a major way. Both have been able to transition from unproductive lives to very successful lives with the assistance of medication, yet there is a tremendous movement in the non-scientific community to minimize the reality of ADD and to suggest that medication is ill-advised, if not dangerous. I would like to know your view of medication and, if you're willing, what specific medication(s) have worked well for you.
Terry Bradshaw: I take a drug called Adderall to regulate it. I too was concerned about the side effects and will go through periods of not taking it only to realize that the mood swings and my attitude and focus will start to wane. My friends will start to say to me "are you on your medicine?" in a tongue and cheek way. I currently am not taking it because I am also on an antidepressant drug called Solestra. I didn't want to take both at the same time.
Washington, D.C.: I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the way Dan Snyder is running his team in D.C. Now that the Chargers are 4-0 with Schottenheimer and the Skins are still questionable, how does his decision to cut Marty loose look to you? Do you think coaches should be held accountable for their team's substandard performance if the talent just isn't there yet?
By the way, football really misses your commentary on television. I'm a big fan!
Terry Bradshaw: I am a firm believer that great coaches have great players but I am also a firm believer that a great coach can make substandard players play great. It was inevitable that Schottenheimer was gone because of the control issue. We are in an age of wide open football which is very exciting.
I agree with the decision to bring in Spurrier, though he doesn't have his quarterback yet, but isn't it kind of strange that the Chargers were a pretty lousy football team last year and Schottenheimer has got them turned around. Does Snyder do a good job running a football team somewhere? He needs to go away and enjoy his money.
Bethesda, Md.: What's the weirdest thing that you done on TV?
Terry Bradshaw: The weirdest thing? The most unusual thing was that I broke down and cried. I have done some stupid things but not "weird." Stupid stuff is kinda normal for me. I was talking about families and children while I was in the process of getting divorced and I just busted out crying. Imus called me a babbling idiot.
Harrisburg, Pa.: How does it feel to be the most popular football guest on the Don Imus show, according to the poll? How do you like doing shows with Don Imus?
Terry Bradshaw: I love doing his show! But I certainly didn't know he had a poll going. It makes you feel good but you take it with a grain of salt. I can't take that to Fox executives and ask for a raise.
College Park, Md.: I don't know, Terry. To me, anyone who recognizes that they're "not all that smart" is pretty smart in the first place. Maybe you're not book-smart, as it were. But the first step in any weakness is admitting it.....
I'm sorry if I'm overanalyzing this, and I realize most people will want to ask you about football. But I'm just intrigued by that intro and want to explore it some more. Does it bother you that you think you're not smart? Do you try to change it? Or do you think it can't be changed - that smart is everything to do with natural intelligence and nothing to do with learning?
Oh, and while I was just a bit young when you were the football hero, I've become quite a fan simply because you seem like a nice, down-to-earth guy. Is that true? And are you single?
Terry Bradshaw: I hope you are a lady.
I think the reference to smart is reference to the realm of things in the world that truly matter - science, math, etc. In the realm of football I think I am smart. I, by no stretch, think I am not smart about football. I may be borderline genius. A lot of brilliant people couldn't get into school or pass tests but had a creative mind. I think I am very smart in certain ways.
Do I loose sleep over it - no. Do I wake up every morning happy - yes.
Oh and by the way, how old are you and are you single?
Pittsburgh, Pa.: Hey, Terry! So, could you whup Howie Long in a sparring match or what! Let's forget this computer crap and go out for some beers, like real men! By the way, how's your book doing? Thanks, dude!
Terry Bradshaw: I could not whip Howie Long, and the only way I would ever attempt it was if I went and had beers with you, but since I don't drink I would have to say that at 6'6" -- 275 and 6'2" -220 it is a bit of a mismatch. I would need to drink to even get the courage to say "step outside."
Isn't real men stuff using your head anyway?
Arlington Va.: Hi Terry, big fan!
The NFL is great, but if you were commissioner, what changes would you make for improvement? Thanks!
Terry Bradshaw: First thing I would do is make quarterbacks call their own plays. No microphones in their helmets.
Also I would bring back the bump and run and I would take in the grass rule out. Let the QBs make their money.
I would eliminate Thursday and Sunday night games and I would bring Monday night football back to 8 p.m. so we on the east coast could actually watch it.
I would also take away the salary cap so players can stay around. If you got the bucks play 'em, if you don't let them go. Play ball.
And before a player is signed the fans get to call in and get involved with the financial decisions.
And more sideline shots of cheerleaders - a MUST!
Naples, Fla.: Have either you or Chuck Noll made a serious attempt to patch up any differences between you?
Terry Bradshaw: We have. We have been together a few times since I have retired and everything is fine. Most recently we were at the Mike Webster funeral together and had a good long talk. I am very happy that we have smoothed things out.
Baltimore, Md.: You're awfully harsh on the Ravens each week? Why so much animosity about one of the NFL's best teams in recent years? -- Jimbo
Terry Bradshaw: They only had one good year. The remarks were in reference to Billick signing Grbac and then telling all of us that he liked the look in his eyes - only to have him quit football when he got there. We knew better that he wasn't that good. It was a shot at him. He also made the comment that it was the greatest defense EVER which I take offence to - the Steel Curtain was the best year in and year out. Billick is called an "offensive genius" yet won the Super Bowl by running rather than passing. My comments were directed as much at him and his philosophy than the Ravens.
I am only a fan of good games - I care not to watch average football. I still haven't gotten over the fact that the Colts aren't in Baltimore.
Now if the Ravens start winning and getting good I will be right back blowing the horns for them. Not a problem. Sorry if I offended you.
Washington, D.C., but from Clairton, Pa.: Dear Terry:
I was a Steelers fan during your time with the team. One of the most vivid television memories I have is of the "immaculate reception" by Franco, with my normally staid family yelling and screaming to beat the band. I was broken up to read about Mike Webster and the last sad years of his life, brought on by the injuries he suffered on the field. Have there been changes in padding, etc. to prevent the type of injuries suffered by Mike?
Terry Bradshaw: There is a new helmet that is out this year that is larger and has more padding. We played with an old suspension helmet so I am surprised we haven't had more head injuries. No one can use the head as a weapon anymore in the NFL and they have done some other things to help, but it is still a very very physical sport. You can't avoid injury and you won't have a day the rest of your life that is pain free.
Bethesda, Md.: For those who are thinking of writing books, what words of encouragement can you give?
Terry Bradshaw: Write it. Some people will say "I don't have a publisher" but if you have a burning desire to put something down on paper than do it. Get a response to it. Once you are convinced that it is something that people will be interested in find a publisher. I am a firm believer that people needs to pursue all their goals. The journey is the great thing about it. I am fortunate that I am a high profile individual so my opportunities are greater. I know I don't live in the real world.
Harrisburg, Pa.: Who do you keep in touch with from the glory days of the Steelers? And, besides you, who ended up with the oddest post-football, non-football job? Thanks.
Terry Bradshaw: I don't really keep up with anyone.
The oddest post-football job Blunt has buys home, Franco has a food company, Jack Ham sells coal, Ernie Holmes raises fighting chickens, I did Chippendales… no wait, that is in another life.
Burke, Va.: What do you think of Randle El? I think he's an incredible weapon that the Steelers should take more advantage of. Rookie of the year?
Terry Bradshaw: He is exciting but the hasn't put up the numbers yet. Saw him at Indiana and he was incredible. If they can get him in more in the offense he could be dangerous. Definitely Rookie of the Year material if they start using him right.
Laurel, Md.: John Madden is the best TV analyst in the history of football broadcasting, partly because he became a head coach at 35 and retired at 44, so was both experienced and young enough to have a substantial post-coaching career.
What else can TV do to develop a better class of analyst since few people can combine football knowledge and articulateness with relative youth?
Terry Bradshaw: Most players have no desire to do television on my scale because it requires traveling and being away from home. There are also very few players who majored in broadcast so most of us are not capable.
Broadcast is a star driven industry with a few exceptions of players who are really good at doing local radio and were signed by the networks.
Most of the broadcasters and analysts don't tell you what is going on they tell you what you see - they still don't do their job. You see what is happening - you need someone to tell you WHY it is working.
So if you are good looking, successful in football and can talk - in other words, put a sentence together - you will be a star.
Arlington, Va.: Hi Terry,
Why did Chris Collinsworth get the boot off your Sunday team?
Terry Bradshaw: He didn't get the boot he got promoted to work with Troy Aikman. I suppose they felt that they could easier find a replacement for him in the studio.
Reston, Va.: Hi Terry,
Just wanted to say that I love you and the guys on the Fox Pregame show. I go through withdrawal at the end of the season because the show's gone until Fall. And I think you're one of the funniest people on tv. Thanks for entertaining all of us.
Terry Bradshaw: Thank you.
Chicago, Ill.: Greetings to one of my heroes growing up,
Observing you on Fox, I guessed that you were on the borderline with ADD. I wouldn't say suffering from ADD -- more likely relishing a life that includes ADD as one aspect.
I confess that I haven't read the book yet, so the answer might be on page 2. How do you focus on your broadcast segments in the midst of all the chaos going on around you with eight games going on at the same time?
Terry Bradshaw: I focus on two games and then I rely on all the people behind me to give me a synopsis quarter by quarter to help me be on top of the action. ADD doesn't affect me in talking about football because it is something I love and focus on and the overall synopsis of the football is easy.
Reston, Va.: Terry, Do you think that the NFL will create a farm system similar to MLB by branding the Arena, and Canadian leagues with the NFL stamp? With all of those college players out there, would that make sense to give them a chance to develop? Look at what's happening with all of the youth in the NBA... Lack of fundamentals, and a deterioation of the game itself.
Terry Bradshaw: You have that with NFL Europe. That is where we take younger players and send them off to gain experience. And you are correct - we do look at Canada. More NFL owners are bringing in Arena League to the NFL cities to look at talent and the popularity of it. It costs $3 Million to start, and some of the teams could go to $60 Million.
We have 32 NFL teams and we don't have near enough starting quarterbacks and talent to supply all of them.
Somewhere, USA: Browns vs. Steelers: Terry,
At the first pro football game I ever attended you were slammed on your head in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. An ambulance had to take you away, as I recall. The Cleveland fans cheered.
Did free agency and the salary cap ruin great rivalries such as the Browns and Steelers. Year to year, I don't know who is on the Steelers, so I can't really hate them.
Terry Bradshaw: The salary cap certainly hurts teams. The Ravens had to dismantle theirs because they couldn't afford to keep them. The draft has gone from 16 to six rounds. The players haven't been given the chance to develop yet because they have to produce so quickly. You make it or you are gone.
Akili Smith who was the 3rd player taken in the draft has asked to be traded - which tells me that he is a very smart man.
Charlotte, N.C.: Terry,
Very cool that you are so open about medication for ADD and depression. There are few things that can take the stigma away from these things the way a well-liked public figure can. Especially when you can make it seem so matter-of-fact and normal. Thanks.
Terry Bradshaw: I think it is important. I am not on a crusade for drugs or medication and I am not looking for sympathy. I have ADD and have been diagnosed with depression and I take drugs for that - but I function normally and I am not ashamed of it. If you try to hide something from someone people want to know why. I think you need to be open and honest - and people will accept you for it. This book is written to help people. Lets be smart enough to know that if you have a problems and you can get help then lets go get it! Because it is not cool to have a problem. The end result is that I am happy and I feel good about my health.
I want to thank all of you for showing interest in me and my life. As you all know I am currently on a book tour for "Keep it Simple." It is a good book, cheap, makes a good gift and only takes seven hours to read. The only down side is that it has no pictures. Of course I would like you to buy it, but more importantly I would like you to tune into Fox NFL Sunday and watch our show. Can I have an AMEN!
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