Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw says the physical pounding sustained during his NFL career affects his memory, creating bouts of depression and challenges related to his new Vegas-styled show.
Bradshaw, who won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s, is preparing to shift the singing and storytelling show about his life to the road.
America's Favorite Dumb Blonde — A Life in Four Quarters debuted in June at the Mirage casino in Las Vegas. The show will travel to Lake Tahoe, Nev., next month before making other stops across the United States.
Bradshaw struggled to remember things and decided to visit a clinic four years ago in Newport Beach, Calif., to find out more.
"I couldn't focus and remember things, and I was dealing with depression," Bradshaw said Thursday during a telephone interview. "I was frustrated I couldn't remember stuff, and I got real upset. It was driving me nuts. I got tested to see what condition my brain is in. And it's not in real good shape."
Bradshaw, the gregarious analyst on FOX NFL Sunday, has used a combination of doctors and medication to address the situation.
Discussions about football-related brain trauma have increased substantially because of the impact on former players such as Tony Dorsett and the late Junior Seau, along with the Frontline television special entitled League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis.
Bradshaw spent five years living in Camanche, Iowa, before a job-related move shifted his family back to its native Shreveport, La. His athletic career ascended from there as he matured into one of the most memorable quarterbacks in NFL history.
All those yards and wins, however, exacted a price after football.
"I'm certainly nowhere near as bad as Tony or Junior, that's not where I am," said Bradshaw, who's said he would not allow a son to play the rugged game these days. "But you can't play 30 years in football and not have conditions. It's just that some are worse than others.
"I lose stuff. I forget stuff. I walk into rooms and go, 'Why am I in here? What did I come in here for?' Is that normal? I'm 65. I don't know."
Bradshaw opted out of the concussion lawsuit that was settled between the NFL and former players for $765 million.
"I chose not to, because I didn't want to be used," he said. "I've always took care of myself. When I went to that (California) clinic, I didn't tell anyone at FOX or in my family. I did it on my own.
"And if I'm not in the settlement, that's one less guy out of the mix to pay and a little more money for someone else who really needs it."
The variety show about Bradshaw's life fared well in Las Vegas — but the 90-minute performance provides a challenge.
"By anyone else's standards, it would probably take them three weeks to learn all the songs and everything," he said. "It probably took me six months to learn everything. And I never remember all the dialogue. They put buzzwords on cue cards, so I glance over and look at those."
Miller also writes for The Des Moines Register