Terry Bradshaw is like the Chuck Norris of the NFL: Every young quarterback wants to be him. Wearing four Super Bowl rings and getting cameos in films and television is living the dream.
Last Thursday on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show, Bradshaw admitted to using steroids during the 1970s in order to heal injuries. He said:
"We did steroids to get away the aches and the speed of healing. My use of steroids from a doctor was to speed up injury and thought nothing of it...It was to speed up the healing process. That was it. It wasn’t to get bigger and stronger and faster."
In 2008, steroids are seen in a negative light because of the life-threatening risks. It also takes away from the competitive balance of the game. When we think of these drugs, one word comes to mind: cheating. Players take the drugs in order to cheat and get an edge on their opponent.
So how could Bradshaw do this? Why would he cheat and tarnish the legacy of the “Steel Curtain?” How dare him…wait, what? He played in the 1970s? Oh!
In Bradshaw’s day and age, this was the culture, ladies and gentlemen. In fact, many books have been written about how the Pittsburgh Steelers reveled in the steroid culture.
Don’t believe me? One of those books was written by the late Steve Courson, a former lineman for the Steelers. Courson told Sports Illustrated that he took Anadrol-50, Dianabol, Winstrol, and Deca Durobilin as a player. (Editor's Note: Jose Canseco listed the same steroids on his own grocery list in his book, Juiced.)
Let me also throw out a number: 19. That is the number of former Super Bowl-winning Steelers who have died since 2000.
Some of the deaths certainly weren’t attributed to steroids, but there are rumors that some of the deaths may have been.
That’s alarming to think about, but remember, in the 1970s and even into 1980s, steroids were perfectly legal. Anybody and their mother could get their hands on steroids.
So what’s the issue? Bradshaw wasn’t using steroids to cheat. He actually used them to heal himself.
In those days, modern medicine wasn’t even near where it is today. That’s why when Rodney Harrison claims to have used HGH to heal himself, I can’t believe him. Nowadays, there are plenty of alternatives to healing yourself and speeding up the rehab process that don’t involve steroids.
Another important point to remember is that every team was using the stuff. Chris Mortensen, an NFL reporter for ESPN, said that when he began covering the NFL, it was hard not to find a team that was completely clean.
The league was plagued with users. Lyle Alzado, whose crazy antics on and off the field were legendary, was the poster boy for steroid use in the NFL throughout the 1970s and '80s. Before his death from a brain tumor in 1992, he too sat down with Sports Illustrated and told them about his experience on steroids.
"90 percent of the athletes I know are on the stuff,” Alzado said, “We’re not born to be 300 lbs or jump 30 feet. But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it.”
Alzado went on to share a story about when he beat up a guy for simply sideswiping his car. Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?
In the case of Bradshaw, he was using it to heal an injury. Heck, he even got a prescription for it. Like most football players, he wanted to be back on the field as quick as possible and in those days, there was really no quicker way.
Did it help him get better? With or without steroids, Bradshaw always had a strong arm and a lackluster brain. I doubt it did much to make him better.
So does the fact that Bradshaw and the Steelers won four Super Bowls while on steroids diminish the accomplishment? Probably not. Because when they were juicing, so was the rest of the NFL.