An interview with Terry
This four-time Super Bowl Champion has done it all
- he's been a record-setting quarter back, actor,
author, motivational speaker, singer, and football
analyst for CBS and FOX.
Terry Bradshaw has also been clinically
depressed. (See www.terryandricky.com)
I happened to see Bradshaw, one of my childhood
heroes, on HBO the other day talking with Armen
Keteyian for Real Sports. When I heard the Hall of
Famer talk about his depression, I had to ask
myself "did you know he suffered with a mood
disorder?" I had to answer "I did not know
The two-time Super Bowl MVP was on a promotional
tour in Los Angeles for the anti-depressant Paxil
when I spoke with him by telephone. I might as well
have been leanin' over the fence in Shreveport,
Louisiana (where he grew up) and talkin' with him
like a next door neighbor.
"Talking about depression is such a hard thing
to do," he chuckled. "It's so depressing."
With his outward good 'ol boy persona, he didn't
seem so depressed to me later that night shucking
and jiving with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. Then
again, Bradshaw told me he was a loner when he
played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, going home
after games and crying "for no apparent
"It didn't matter if I'd won or lost the game,"
he explained. "I had horrible anxiety attacks.
Those were killing me, wearing me out. You see
people that you think are happy,but they're
Throwing a career 27,989 yards and 212 TDs
passing just wasn't getting the job done for
"Winning didn't make me happy," he continued.
"Nothing fulfilled me. I thought maybe if I won a
Super Bowl ... then maybe two Super Bowls will make
me happy, or three or four ... but nothing pleased
me. Nothing relieved me. I couldn't escape it."
Bradshaw said he didn't seek help until he came
to a personal "crossroads."
"I looked at who I was and I didn't like the
person I saw," he said. "I had to find out if this
was the way I was going to be for the rest of my
life, because I didn't like it. That's when I
The football great said he discovered Paxil, an
SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor)
manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. (See more info at
"Before the medication, I'd be in a crowd and
come away with this feeling of anxiety," he
recalled. "Only later do you see you had a
So, do "real men" take pills to be happy?
"That's depression and you don't explain it," he
declared, "but when you get the proper medication,
and for me it was Paxil, all of a sudden you see
the sun come up and feel the breeze and feel the
joy of living and loving people. You give instead
of take. Plus, you think things through carefully
before going out and buying another horse."
Bradshaw operates a 400-acre quarter horse
breeding farm and cattle ranch in Grand Cane,
"I'm still doing everything I've always done,"
he said. "I'm experiencing life as it should
The man who called his own plays in the NFL said
he is still driven to be successful.
"Being successful is fun," he intoned, with a
big laugh. "The more you make, the more you can
give away and help people.
As he nears the age of 50, Bradshaw said he
sleeps better, feels healthier and more content now
than at any time in his life.
"If I wasn't on Paxil, I'd be married again," he
exclaimed, chortling. "If I'd been on Paxil 20
years ago, I'd never have been married!"
Coming from a close-knit family has also helped
support Bradshaw with his mood disorder. He said he
still plays horseshoes and cards with his uncles,
aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers at family
"My grandfather had no enemies," he recalled.
"He was a sweet man who never said an unkind word
about anybody. And he was funny. I also remember my
Uncle Carl, we'd call him 'Uncle Duck' because he
combed his hair like a duck's butt. "
Bradshaw said he communicates regularly with his
mom and dad.
"I love my dad to death," he said. "I was like
the little buzzard who didn't want to leave the
If #12 is getting a negative reaction to talking
about his disease, he said he's not hearing about
"I don't think people dare send them to me," he
said, laughing. "And if it is a negative thing,
it's their thing. Why be upset with someone who's
trying to help people? I do know of a radio station
in Texas that hammered me, but then again they
never liked me anyway. And in the end, nobody can
say I didn't come clean. You gotta come clean if
you're going to get help."
So, this is where I come clean. My doctor
scolded me more than two years ago for refusing to
try an anti-depressant. I was experiencing
paralyzing physical ailments that nobody could
identify. I saw a series of specialists. Somebody
suggested it might be stress related. I refused to
believe I could possibly have a mood disorder. I
was too tough. Only weak men took pills to be
happy, I thought. Finally, however, the emotional
and physical discomfort humbled me enough to try an
Like Bradshaw, I currently treat my anxiety with
Paxil. I too am nearing 50 and am healthy and happy
Now if I can just get my throwing arm back
© 2005 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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