Four-time Super Bowl champion and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who has suffered from bladder cancer and a Merkel cell tumor, broke up reporters covering the Super Bowl by joking about dying live on air.
Bradshaw has served as a Fox NFL Sunday co-host since 1994 after having won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s.
“I told Fox if I could just die on the show, think about the ratings, right?” Bradshaw quipped to reporters. “Are we not about ratings? That’d be huge. Not only that, it’d be a huge carryover. All the networks would be saying that Bradshaw died on the Fox NFL show. Can you imagine the huge stuff? And maybe I get a statue out front.”
“I want to do it, if I keep my health together, I love what I’m doing,” Bradshaw said then added, “But we all get old. We all get kicked out. I’m not looking over my shoulder, but Brady is coming in.”
Bradshaw referred to Tom Brady, who was reportedly given a $375 million, 10-year contract by Fox Sports.
Terry Bradshaw, national treasure, with thoughts on his career, mortality, etc.: “I told Fox, if I could just die on the show — think about the ratings, right? I mean, are we not about ratings? That’d be huge. Not only that, it’d be a huge carry-over. …” pic.twitter.com/SHNwLHPpU7
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 7, 2023
“It won’t be easy,” Bradshaw advised Brady, according to The Daily Mail. “The problem with Tom is the whole world is gonna watch. Everyone wants to see how he does. Tom will put the work in. TV is me and you. I’m talking to you. I’m not gonna talk over your head [or] below you. I’m gonna talk right to you. We’re gonna have some fun. We’re gonna keep it simple. We’re gonna have a good visit today. That’s television. The quicker he can learn that, and relax [the better he’ll be].”
On October 2, Bradshaw responded to fans who derogated him for appearing out of breath the week before.
“I couldn’t breathe,” he reflected. “That’s when everybody notices. ‘What’s wrong with him?’ Social media went, ‘Get rid of him. He needs to be off the air. He’s an embarrassment.’ And I was like, ‘Embarrassment? I got cancer.’”
“I didn’t talk about it because I didn’t want pity,” Bradshaw said on NBC’s Today. “I didn’t talk about it because a lot of celebrities — unfortunately, I’m one of those — when they say this, I think the perception around America with all the millions of people is, ‘Aw, look at him. Bless his heart. He has cancer. Well, my husband died of cancer! My kids are…’ I didn’t want that. It took a long time before I told my family.”
“I wasn’t scared,” Bradshaw told NBC’s Harry Smith of the initial diagnosis.
“Really?” Smith reacted.
“No. You know what, Harry? I don’t know why; I never was scared,” Bradshaw replied.
“I mean, you’re Terry Bradshaw. You’re bigger than life,” Smith told him.
“Well, cancer didn’t think so,” Bradshaw laughed. “I don’t think cancer cares. Listen, cancer shows no favoritism.”
Bradshaw cited his Christian faith as the source of his strength in dealing with the disease, declaring, “As a man of faith, as a Christian, my attitude was, well, if I go, I’m okay. If I stay, I’m okay.”
He had been treated for his bladder cancer, first diagnosed in November 2021, and was pronounced clear of it before he began experiencing “nerve pain in my neck and my shoulder.” He recalled thinking, “I have injured my neck before, so this is not uncommon.”
A tumor was discovered that required removal; Bradshaw admitted that he initially kept his cancer secret from his family. But he praised his wife, saying, “I can’t put into words how thankful I am for her. Seriously. I can’t imagine not holding her hand when we take off on a plane or when we land or when we snuggle up when we’re in bed together. I look at her and she doesn’t know I’m looking at her, and I’m so thankful now I’m getting emotional.”