Former professional football player Terry Bradshaw is one very wealthy individual. With an estimated fortune of around $25 million, he’s a pensioner with some serious spending power. While many former pro footballers end up with a healthy bank balance at the end of their careers (at least, they do if they’re wise with their investments), Bradshaw’s wealth adds up to a lot more than just a “healthy bank balance”. So, how exactly did he make his millions?
A Football Sensation
By the time Bradshaw enrolled at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, he was already considered something of a football sensation thanks to his athletic successes at Woodlawn High School. By 1969, Bradshaw had a reputation amongst professional scouts as the best college football player in the US- a reputation cemented when he graduated with almost all of Louisiana Tech passing records.
After completing his studies, Bradshaw made the move into professional football, drawing first with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970 NFL Draft. His rookie season was, in his own words, a disaster. Unprepared for the world of pro football, he became known for his erratic play, while his perceived lack of intelligence and “hick” roots drew scorn from both the media and sports fan alike. "I was totally unprepared for pro football,” he’s since acknowledged. “I had had no schooling on reading defenses. I had never studied the game films the way a quarterback should. I was an outsider who didn't mingle well. The other players looked on me as a Bible-toting Li'l Abner."
Never one to be defeated, Bradshaw learned from his mistakes, and by 1978, he had turned his fortunes around enough to be named the NFL's Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press, as well as being named all-pro and all-AFC. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a continuation of his successes on the field, but in 1983, an elbow injury forced him to retire from the game for good. By that time, his achievements had extended to include 8 AFC Central championships, 4 Superbowl wins, and multiple Most Valuable player titles.
During the early days of his career in pro football, Bradshaw supplemented his income (at that time, pro footballers could only dream of the kind of salaries their modern-day counterparts enjoy) with several part-time business ventures. While his sideline as a used car salesman probably didn’t pull in the big bucks, it’s likely his bank account enjoyed a nice top-up by the line of peanut butter he sold with his name and image on the label.
Post- Football Broadcasting Career
Bradshaw has spoken in interviews about how his upbringing fostered a strong work ethic, and never was this more evident than when, within the same year as an injury forced his early retirement from football, he landed a lucrative television contract with CBS. After serving for several years as an NFL game analyst, he was promoted to the position of television studio analyst for The NFL Today in 1990: four years later, he joined Fox NFL Sunday, which he still presents to this day. In addition to co-hosting Fox NFL Sunday, Bradshaw’s broadcasting career has taken in hosting duties on two consecutive Digi-Bowl specials (2001 and 2002), in between episode commentary on Digimon: Digital Monsters, and NASCAR on FOX.
TV and Film Appearances
As if the rewarding salary Bradshaw pulls in from his broadcasting career wasn’t enough, he’s also made a fair pile from his numerous TV and film appearances. The majority of his TV work has seen him make guest appearances as himself, with some of his most notable credits including Brotherly Love, Everybody Loves Raymond, Married... with Children, Modern Family, The Larry Sanders Show, Last Man Standing, and The League. Not that he’s averse to playing a fictional character or two, however, as we saw on Malcolm in the Middle when he played the coach of a women’s ice hockey team, and on The Jeff Foxworthy Show when he starred as a motivational speaker.
Bradshaw’s big-screen career began while he was still playing professional football, with some of his earliest credits including the 1978 film Hooper (starring Burt Reynolds, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Sally Field) and The Cannonball Run (1981). In 1980, he reunited with his Hooper castmates Reynolds and Field on Smokey and the Bandit II, while subsequent credits have included The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1994), Failure to Launch (2006), and Father Figures (2017).
Other TV gigs that have no doubt helped prop up the coffers include a leading role on the NBC reality-travel series Better Late Than Never (which sees him travel the world alongside such industry stalwarts as William Shatner, Henry Winkler, George Foreman, and Jeff Dye), a singing spot on The Masked Singer, and numerous commercials, the latest of which has included a series of live-ads for Tide detergent.
In January 2019, Bradshaw showed off his singing talents on the singing competition, The Masked Singer. Those who’ve followed Bradshaw’s career probably weren’t too surprised at hearing him carry a tune: the former pro footballer has been recording music since the 1970s, releasing six albums of country/western and gospel music in total, and even making the Billboard country charts with his singles "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", "The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me" and "Until You". As well as enjoying success as a musician, Bradshaw has proved his mettle as a writer, publishing five well-received books focusing on his faith and life.
Throughout his NFL career, Bradshaw was routinely dismissed as “dumb”. As it turns out, he’s anything but. As his co-host and former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson has quipped, "he's so dumb that he has to have somebody else fly his private plane” - a comment that speaks volumes. Bradshaw’s career in football may have ended prematurely, but the Louisiana native had enough tricks up his sleeve, not to mention enough steely ambition, to ensure his income didn’t end with his retirement…. something that’s more than evident in that multi-million-dollar net worth.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee