Terry Bradshaw, a quarterback who has won four Super Bowls and is in the NFL Hall of Fame, was told he had cancer months before he told the public in early October. He came forward to explain why he had been so quiet about it.
Bradshaw said he had bladder cancer and a Merkel cell tumor on October 2 on “Fox NFL Sunday.” Fans had made fun of him the week before for looking out of breath.
He thought, “I couldn’t breathe. 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.’”
Bradshaw said on NBC’s Today, “I didn’t talk about it because I didn’t want pity. 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.”
Bradshaw told NBC’s Harry Smith that when he first heard the diagnosis, he wasn’t scared.
“Really?” Smith asked.
“No. You know what, Harry? I don’t know why; I never was scared,” Bradshaw answered.
“I mean, you’re Terry Bradshaw. You’re bigger than life,” Smith told him.
Bradshaw laughed and said, “Well, cancer didn’t think so. I don’t think cancer cares. Listen, cancer shows no favoritism.”
Bradshaw threw the “Immaculate Reception,” which is probably the most famous and memorable pass in pro football history. The famous announcer Curt Gowdy called it the “miracle of all miracles,” and it led to the start of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ dynasty.
Bradshaw said that his Christian faith gave him the strength to deal with the disease. “As a man of faith, as a Christian, my attitude was, well, if I go, I’m okay. If I stay, I’m okay.”
When he was first diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2021, he was treated for it and given the all-clear before he started having “nerve pain in my neck and my shoulder.” He thought, “I have injured my neck before, so this is not uncommon.”
A tumor was found that needed to be taken out. Bradshaw said that he had kept his cancer a secret from his family at first. But he said of his wife, “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.”
You can watch the full interview below.
Featured Image screenshot from embedded YouTube video.