Sporting a purple jacket with a lining as colorful as the tales he told, the only NFL player with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame kept his audience captivated at Schneider Electric’s 2015 Wonderware Conference in Dallas. There’s little else that Texans take more seriously than football, and it was clear that attendees were looking forward to the closing keynote from Terry Bradshaw.
The four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, two-time Super Bowl MVP and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee tried to return the love with a nod to the conference content: “Industrial automation solutions, that’s kind of cool.” But when chuckles came from the audience, Bradshaw gave up trying to say that with a straight face, instead moving straight on to stories from his life and his football career, both on the field and as a commentator, and advice about denying the haters and naysayers the opportunity to cut you down.
It was difficult to know when Bradshaw was relating true stories or spinning tall tales, but he kept it interesting, to say the least. The slow, labored limp that he showed as he made his way onto the stage (fluid on the knee, he explained) didn’t keep him from getting on one knee to show the audience how he proposed to his second wife finally after being with her for some 15 years (his 6’1” truck-driving wife who looks “hot” when she puts her teeth in). He talked of his three daughters who call to talk (“If they call me Dad, I know it’s going to be a nice conversation. But if they call me Daddy, I know I’ll be reaching for my wallet.”). He talked about the deep funk he was in when his first wife left him (to which his “mama” in Shreveport, La., told him, “That’s what happens when you marry out of the family.”).
And, of course, he talked football. Lots of football. About his glory days with the Pittsburgh Steelers, calling his own plays as quarterbacks rarely did even in those days and never do today. When he talks about Tom Brady’s success as a quarterback with the New England Patriots and how his plays are sent to him through a radio from the coach, people tell him he’s just jealous. To which he replies, “You bet your sweet butt, I’m jealous. You think I wouldn’t like to make $23 million a year and not have to make a decision?"
His message to the audience, ultimately, was to be true to yourself. Don’t let other people tell you what you are or aren’t. Bradshaw suffered through plenty of years of people saying he was stupid. But that didn’t bring him down, and in fact only made him work that much harder to prove them wrong.
With his success on the field being followed by a very successful career as a sports broadcaster, Bradshaw has clearly not let anyone drag him down.