40 years ago this month, fifth-year NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw came of age. The former #1 overall draft pick in 1970 had struggled in his first five regular seasons, averaging just 1,504 passing yards per season, while throwing 48 touchdowns and 81 interceptions.
But in the 1974 playoffs, something clicked. In wins over the Buffalo Bills, the Oakland Raiders, and finally, in the Super Bowl IX against the Minnesota Vikings, Bradshaw played the best football of his career, steadying himself long enough to let a powerful running game and legendary “Steel Curtain” defense dictate the tempo of games and slowly bleed out opponents.
We spoke to Terry about his progression as a quarterback, the Super Bowl and the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s.
Talk about your experience working with Pepsi on the Pepsi GRAMMY Halftime Show.
“This is just great, man. My agent called me and described the script and it sounded like so much fun, I couldn’t wait to do it. It was so much fun to make. And Deion (Sanders) and Shannon (Sharpe) were all laughing at each other. And coach Ditka was a hoot! Just four old guys out there showing off our stuff!
As a rookie, you were the first overall draft pick, and in the ensuing season, you threw a league leading 24 interceptions and split time with Terry Hanratty. What are your thoughts on that year in hindsight, after all the success?
“Well, I came up out of a small school where I was not exposed to the media, not exposed to fans, what it was like to have a bad game and the repercussions. So being booed, being ripped in the papers, this was all new to me. I had to learn how to be a professional, I had to learn how to study, I had to learn defenses. It took me a while. I wasn’t a real student of the game, I never really was one even as the years went on. I was never a guy that could sit down and just pound out tape after tape. Now, it’s a lot easier. Back then, tape would break and you’d have to glue it back together. I could sit there and my coach could tell me the coverages they would use, take all that information and put it on a piece of paper, go through all the plays and everything, and I would know what to do. I learned how to be a professional and it was brutal. Being booed and being called all those horrible things left a lasting impression on me. I never forgot it.”
The early lines for the 2014 Super Bowl were all over the place last night. At first Seattle was favored on many sportsbooks and then the money came flooding in on Denver. Now we’re seeing the Broncos as 1.5 to 1 point favorites in most places.
In the video above, Howie Long makes a great point – that the officiating will play a big role in this game regarding how much Seattle defenders can get away with versus Denever receivers, and likewise whether Denver can run their pick plays with impunity. NFL officiating has become a disgrace, so expect plenty of controversy.
Also, we’re seeing two completely different quarterbacks. Peyton Manning is a classic drop back passer and one of the all-time greats. Russell Wilson is a mobile quarterback who makes big plays but also huge mistakes with his improvizing. Frankly, Wilson is a bit overrated – he’s riding the Seahawks bus to the Super Bowl, not driving it.
In one of the more entertaining games in Super Bowl history, the Ravens held on to beat the 49ers, 34-31. Here are some quick-hit observations from Baltimore’s upset.
+ There’s no question that Jimmy Smith held Michael Crabtree in the end zone on that fourth-down play. We’ve all seen cornerbacks flagged for less and if there’s a penalty on the play, then throw the flag, period. (That statement is in reference to those suggesting that the refs were right by “letting the players play.”) But a game is never decided by one play. Jim Harbaugh and Vic Fangio’s defense gave up 34 points after surrendering the second-fewest points during the regular season, and the Niners saved one of their worst performances for the biggest game of the year. They have every reason to be upset with the non-call on Smith, but they were also in control of what happened for 58 minutes prior to that play and they simply didn’t do enough to win the game.
+ The power outage was a disaster for the NFL. Millions of people had to wait 30 minutes for someone at the Superdome to find the fuse box and this was after waiting for what felt like an hour for Beyonce to wrap up her halftime show. Considering the NFL has priced out its fans at local stadiums and doesn’t allow any business to utter the words “Super Bowl” without wanting a fee in return, the delay was embarrassing for Roger Goodell and Co. The situation was most likely unavoidable, but embarrassing nonetheless.
+ Of course, I don’t know which corporation should have been more embarrassed during the outage – the NFL or CBS. The network supplied 10 hours worth of pre-game coverage but all of a sudden it had nothing to say during a 30-minute delay. Steve Tasker played the role of Monty from the “Major League” movies, painfully giving TV viewers his best play-by-play of the scene. If this situation didn’t expose television sideline reporters for how useless they are, I don’t know what will. To be fair, it’s not as if CBS was planning on having a 30-minute show four minutes into the third quarter. But something tells me FOX would have handled the situation with more aplomb.
+ There was one good thing to come out of the power outage: Twitter. People’s tweets during the delay were 10-times funnier than any commercial that was aired during the game. And it isn’t even close.
+ It’s going to be debated ad nauseam whether or not the power outage allowed the 49ers to settle down and avoid what seemed to be a surefire blowout. And hey, maybe it did. If they go three-and-out following Jones’ kickoff return, maybe Baltimore wins the game running away. Instead, the delay stunted the Ravens’ momentum and allowed the 49ers to regain their composure. Then again, it’s not as if San Francisco hadn’t shown the ability to battle back from double-digit deficits before. Two weeks ago it looked like the Falcons were going to soar into the Super Bowl after building a 17-0 lead in the first quarter of the NFC title game. It’s hard to quantify how much the delay meant to the Niners, but they’re not a team that’s easily rattled. Outage or no outage, the 49ers weren’t going to waive the white flag after trailing by 22 points and an entire second half yet to be played.
+ By completing 73-of-126 passes for 1,140 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, Joe Flacco had one of the most impressive postseasons by a quarterback in NFL history. And now that he’s a Super Bowl MVP with a dazzling 9-4 postseason record, he’s worth every penny the Ravens will pay him this offseason.
+ Considering he’s never thrown for over 4,000 yards or 25 touchdown passes in a single season, there’s an argument to be made that he still doesn’t belong in the same category as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. But he holds tremendous value to a team like the Ravens, who evaluate talent as well as any franchise in the NFL and who contends on a yearly basis. Baltimore needs a quarterback that can win in the postseason, which Flacco has now done for five straight years. He may continue to battle with consistency throughout his career, but given his contributions in the postseason he’s proven that he’s a franchise player. And in this day and age, franchise quarterbacks with Super Bowl rings can command $17-plus million a year.
+ Imagine how much money the Ravens could have saved had they paid Flacco at the start of the season instead of waiting to see how the year panned out. Stupid hindsight.
+ What was most impressive about Flacco’s performance was his ability to extend plays. There were multiple times during the course of the game where you would have thought he was gearing up to throw the ball 20 yards into the stands and instead, he chucked it downfield for huge, drive-sustaining completions. For as much as the Niners’ secondary was exposed the past two games, it’s not fair to ask defensive backs to cover receivers for 20 seconds downfield. Flacco consistently put pressure on San Francisco’s defense throughout the game.
+ For as well as Flacco played, there’s an argument to be made that Jacoby Jones deserved MVP. Had the power not gone off at the Superdome, his kickoff return to start the second half may have spurred a Baltimore blowout. Flacco’s longest touchdown pass was a pass that he under threw to Jones, who made a great adjustment and had the wherewithal to get up, make a move on Chris Culliver and sprint to the end zone for a touchdown. Considering that was the only catch Jones made, the MVP award probably wound up in the right hands. But Jones’ contributions cannot be understated.
Most people agree that today’s Super Bowl offers up a pretty good matchup. You have two of the more physical teams in football led by strong-armed quarterbacks. Sure, there are big differences in style between Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick, but both of them can beat you with their big arms, and they both have an excellent stable of receivers at their disposal.
Even with San Francisco being the favorite, there are good arguments for both teams if you’re thinking of putting some money on the game. For me, however, I keep coming back to Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Ray Rice. The talent at the skill positions for Baltimore is pretty special, and we’ve seen some issues in the 49ers secondary. Boldin completely dominated the Patriots, and we’ve seen incredible plays from Smith and Rice as well.
Everyone is focused on the Kaepernick factor for good reason. But Baltimore’s offense is really clicking right now and has just as much balance. Flacco is having a field day now working with these weapons, so the Ravens with the points doesn’t look like a bad bet. The lines started at 5 and now it’s down to 4 or even 3.5 as more money has gone towards the Ravens.