Pittsburgh owes Terry Bradshaw
an apology — and a hug

        Posted: January 2017

Terry Bradshaw criticized Mike Tomlin.

So. What.

Veteran, respected Pittsburgh writers Joe Starkey and Ed Bouchette declared Bradshaw a “bumbling fool” (Starkey) and “fool” whom “no one in the Steelers organization takes seriously.” (Bouchette)


Did anyone take him seriously in Super Bowl XIII?

Or Super Bowl IX, X and XIV?

How about in those 19 playoff starts (of which he won 14) — was he a fool in those games?

Pittsburgh vs. Bradshaw is one of the most bizarre jock stories in the history of sports.

Pittsburgh might be the only town that would boot its own Babe Ruth. Has it ever happened anywhere else? Joe Montana felt disrespected in San Francisco, but he’s royalty there. Larry Csonka bolted Miami near the Dolphins' peak but was welcomed back a few years later. Lou Holtz made the mistake of recruiting Ron Powlus, then was run out of Notre Dame, sanity questioned despite restoring a terrible program to national championship glory. Pete Rose was widely criticized in Cincinnati, because he actually broke some serious rules.

Pittsburgh could hand Terry Bradshaw 1 billion dollars and build him a palace, and it wouldn’t come close to repaying what this gentleman did for this city.

Funny how no one cares about that.

In list after list, Joe Greene is ranked the greatest Steeler of all time. Seriously? Joe Greene had more to do with those 4 Super Bowls than Terry Bradshaw?

Without Terry Bradshaw, the Steel Curtain of the 1970s is the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. We don’t know who they would’ve had instead. Try winning the 1974 AFC Championship Game with the organization's anointed starter that season, Joe Gilliam. (Seriously.) Or Terry Hanratty.

How often was Pittsburgh complaining about Terry Bradshaw at halftime of Super Bowl XIII, the greatest game ever quarterbacked, when he already had 251 passing yards and 3 touchdowns? Or is that type of Bradshaw activity taken seriously?

Bradshaw never clamored for a job in Pittsburgh. He landed there only because of a bizarre policy that still shockingly exists today that awards the sole negotiating rights for the best players to the worst teams, which Pittsburgh was in 1969 (despite the addition of Chuck Noll and Joe Greene). The city was incredibly lucky to obtain his services by producing such an awful football team.

Bradshaw talked big, said some silly things, flights of fancy. He got booed, chewed out by his coach and even at the peak of his career talked about quitting football for either Hollywood or country music.

Alert Eliot Ness.

Imagine if he had signed a couple contracts with other teams, left in a huff after Super Bowl XL, or got suspended for 6 games after messy scrapes with women somehow in back to back years.

It’s entirely likely, as Steelers players say, that Bradshaw, as the star quarterback, did indeed receive special treatment from his coach. It’s also blatantly obvious that his own coach embarrassed him and gave him little credit.

Forget about the curious benching for half the 1974 season. Look no further than the 1978 game at Los Angeles. Terry Bradshaw, a two-time champion quarterbacking a 9-1 team and leading the league's MVP race, has a bad series in the 4th quarter. His coach storms at him in full view of the “Monday Night Football” cameras. When was the last time you saw Bill Belichick chewing out Tom Brady, or Tony Dungy giving Peyton Manning a figurative kick in the rear?

Didn’t think so.

Terry Bradshaw led the sport’s greatest team — or if not the greatest, then likely most popular — to still unmatched heights: 4 Super Bowl wins in 6 years. An astounding 15 straight playoff games of winning the total yardage battle. The only 40-point playoff game of the 1970s.

He had plenty of help. Mean Joe Greene. Franco Harris. The best 2 wide receivers in football (yes, the league’s No. 1 and 2 at that time played for the same team.) Jack Lambert and Jack Ham. Mel Blount. Mike Webster.

The way football works, Bradshaw was the best of the bunch. Undeniably.

The pride that Pittsburgh took from its 1970s success — assuming any of it had anything to do with pro football — is more attributable to the first pick in the 1970 draft than anything else.

Bradshaw indeed made a poor decision not to attend Art Rooney’s funeral. He has admitted that. Ask yourself this: Would you play Super Bowl XIV with Cliff Stoudt in exchange for Terry attending that funeral? Didn’t think so.

The phony judgment this community spews on this legendary sportsman is beyond tragic.

Bradshaw said of Tomlin on Fox Sports 1, “I don’t think he’s a great coach at all. He’s a nice coach. To me, I’ve said this, he’s really a great cheerleader guy. I don’t know what he does. I don’t think he is a great coach at all. His name never even pops in my mind when we think about great coaches in the NFL.”

Mike Tomlin is a grownup who can certainly defend himself. He doesn’t need beat writers denouncing his critics.

What exactly is so special about Mike Tomlin? He has barely won 1 playoff game in 5 years. He coached a Super Bowl victory in his 2nd year. So did Barry Switzer. The Mount Rushmore of Tomlin’s Super Bowl victory was Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. It’s fair to consider Santonio Holmes, who played like a HOFer for that season, on that bubbble. None of those players were acquired by Mike Tomlin. When those players got old, Tomlin’s success dwindled. As recently as this season, Tomlin’s Steelers mail in games, losing to demonstrably inferior opponents.

Tomlin has presided over a staggering amount of devastating suspensions. These aren’t fringe players; they’re the guts of the team. Roethlisberger. Bell (twice). Bryant (twice). Harrison (1 game). Holmes (1 game, team deactivation; later 4 games, NFL suspension, traded immediately). Every year, it seems, the Steelers are shorthanded for non-injury reasons.

Coaches are important. Players, far more so. What was Mike Tomlin’s completion percentage in Super Bowl XLIII? How many touchdown passes did Chuck Noll throw in Super Bowl XIV?

The opinion here is that Tomlin is a decent coach. Absolutely no one thinks he is a “great coach.” The Steelers could do worse. They could do better. They have done better, with the previous two. Tomlin owns far more embarrassing defeats than thrilling victories. Is that even remotely arguable?

It seems people really do care about football for the wins. Given that standard, it’s jaw-dropping that Terry Bradshaw isn’t Mayor for Life. Nobody really cares if the players are choirboys if they don’t win. Entering the 2016 playoffs, no Pittsburgh NFL writers are going to waste any ink on how any current players might be less than likable citizens.

The media evidently view their jobs as important. They evidently don’t think it’s important that a “fool” put 4 trophies at the Monongahela and Allegheny.

If you don’t care about wins and Super Bowls, then stop writing about this silly game.

If you do care about them, then at least acknowledge that Terry Bradshaw has far more to do with them than Mike Tomlin ... and get real.

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