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Terry Bradshaw
(Bryan Steffy/WireImage)

Would Terry Bradshaw Have Been Successful In The Modern NFL?

Terry Bradshaw
Would Terry Bradshaw have been successful in the modern NFL? Given how impatient teams are with young quarterbacks, the answer is probably no. (Bryan Steffy/WireImage)

Would Terry Bradshaw Have Been Successful In The Modern NFL?

I was recently watching the ‘Going Deep’ documentary on HBO and I couldn’t help but notice how different the NFL is from back when Terry Bradshaw played. Obviously, football has changed over the year. I’m not sure if we realize it’s changed to the point where a Hall of Famer like Bradshaw would have flamed out in the modern NFL?

This begs the question. If Bradshaw was born during the modern era of football, would he have been successful? The crazy part is, the four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback probably would have failed if he played today. I know, insane but probably true.

Watching the Bradshaw documentary makes you realize how incredibly impatient teams are with young quarterbacks now. During Bradshaw’s rookie season, he took a safety in each of the first three games of the season. Can you imagine if that happened today? He would be labeled a bust and never would see the field again.

Bradshaw admitted he wasn’t mature enough to be the franchise quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers from day one. You know what, that should be okay. Not all of these guys have the same career trajectory. Tom Brady wasn’t Tom Brady either right out of the gates. In fact, he could be labeled as average even when he was winning those Super Bowls in the beginning.

Bradshaw went to Louisiana Tech and couldn’t beat out the Duck Dynasty guy Phil Robertson. Eventually, Bradshaw got the job and became the first pick in the 1970 NFL Draft after winning the MVP of the Senior Bowl. Bradshaw had a big arm but wasn’t NFL ready out of the gates. It just is what it is. He admitted just as much.

I think we forget what social media has done to these athletes. We get information instantly and it’s created a sense of impatience at the quarterback position. Fans literally dressed a scarecrow up like Bradshaw and hung him from a noose because of bad performance. If that happened today, Bradshaw would have been a meme (and that fan probably would have been arrested).

It took five years before Bradshaw even got it together. By that time, he’s booted from the league. Probably would have been flat out cut after three years, in reality. You could argue that Bradshaw would have been more prepared with technology. However, he also admitted he didn’t have any understanding on how to read NFL defenses so I’m not sure it would have mattered.

Year six is when Bradshaw really popped. Basically, the same time Drew Brees did. Bradshaw matured but also just had more talent. When the Steelers added Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, that’s when Bradshaw became the real Blonde Bomber.

Of course, Bradshaw’s pure stats are going to be out of whack. Modern offenses have boomed. Talent wasn’t the problem. Yes, Bradshaw’s career completion percentage sits at 51.9 (which obviously would be significantly higher today. Bradshaw led the NFL in 1978 with 28 touchdown passes. He was a great quarterback during his time.

The question is whether or not NFL teams would have been patient enough to allow things to click? I’m going to go with no. The surrounding talent and the organizational discipline the Steelers have allowed Bradshaw to become the Hall of Famer and legend he became. This is the same organization that has had just three head coaches in the history of the franchise. The Steelers well run as it gets in the NFL.

Throw Bradshaw in with the Jets. A team with bad supporting talent, impatient ownership, and a history of making terrible decisions. Bradshaw gets cut and likely is out of the league so he can start his duck hunt podcast with his old friend Phil. That’s probably what happens today.

The Bradshaw story should be a lesson for all NFL teams. The well run teams in this league are patient and properly develop talent. Some of these quarterbacks all need more time. The story of Terry Bradshaw should be celebrated but it’s also one that probably doesn’t happen today, which is a damn shame.


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