Sports heroes keep us young. To this day, whenever I see the video clip of Bradshaw firing that 18-yard TD dart to Swann in Super Bowl 13, I'm instantly 9-years old again... and I love it!
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the "Glory Days" of the '70s Steelers, and of course, Terry Bradshaw. For me, growing up being a Steelers fan wasn't just about what happened in the "real" game... it was also about what happened after the game when my friends and I would all dash across the street to the park (named South Park, rather appropriately) and re-enact the events we had just watched unfold on TV (on those rare occasions when our Steelers were actually televised). We live in north central Ohio in the absolute heart of Browns Country, so there were only three of us, but we were as die-hard as Steelers fans come. Kevin Perkins was Jack Lambert. Todd Bolin was Franco. And I was, of course, Bradshaw. We all had glorious pro football careers on that well-worn field across from my house. Man, those were great times.
At the ripe old age of 7, I discovered the Steelers during Super Bowl X, which is my first really vivid memory of a pro football game (I was already a Buckeyes fan, though... after all, that was the era of Woody Hayes and Archie Griffin). From that point on, I lived & breathed Steelers. I was always a glory hound, so it only made sense that Bradshaw & Swann would be my favorites. They remain so to this day.
Eventually, the dynasty ended of course, and with its passing, my interest in football waned a bit for a several years. I guess it's always a bit discouraging when one of your favorite players finally succumbs to injury or "old age" and calls it quits, but it's especially difficult when you're a kid. The first year without Bradshaw was a bit surreal. By the time Lambert retired, I was pretty disillusioned by the whole thing. When you're a kid, you just think those guys will somehow just keep playing forever. In hindsight, they do... not on the field, but in the heart.
Times change, of course. The innocent eyes of a child turn into the speculating eyes of an adult. Sports have become so commercial and full of lust for money that they often seem devoid of the love for the game that was so evident in my youth. Thankfully, there's a little piece of my heart that's still stuck back in 1979, and in that place lives the "kid" who faithfully shows up every Sunday to watch the Steelers with unbridled enthusiasm and excitement.
Thanks for preserving the "kid" in me, Terry... you were a great hero to that lanky, freckle-faced punk.
--Tim McMillen, Webmaster