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Steelers Apologetic Bradshaw to be featured on ESPN2 NFL special

Monday, October 20, 2003

By Chuck Finder, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Terry Bradshaw speaks. Yep, no news story there. He yaks all the time. Except now, on the second part of a television special airing tonight, this Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox broadcaster talks openly about a couple of long-festering Steelers wounds.

On "NFL Films Presents: Bradshaw" at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, he publicly apologizes for skipping Art Rooney's 1988 funeral and overtly wishes he had possessed his modern maturity back in his playing days.

"I was, you know, stupid. That's just part of that growing-up process. A grown man of any maturity level at all, you go to someone's [funeral who] you supposedly love like the father," Bradshaw says on the show, referring to the late Chief.

"No one supported a player any more than he did with me. No one spoiled me [more] rotten, did a thousand things for me. And I didn't have the courtesy, the decency to go to his funeral. I mean, that doesn't speak well for me.

"I didn't want to face those people, the Pittsburgh fans, the Pittsburgh press, Chuck Noll. I mean, I was pissed. When I left Pittsburgh, I was angry."

The two-part special, the first of which aired a week ago, encompasses Bradshaw's 1970-83 Steelers career.

The second part covers his relationship with the Pittsburgh fans, from his boobird early years to his Super Bowl MVPs to the chronic elbow problems that forced him to retire.

It also makes mention -- one year and one day after the event -- of his warm homecoming at a Colts-Steelers Monday night game as an honorary captain and halftime honoree.

"It was just the greatest night," Bradshaw said. "Then you go back and say to yourself, 'I didn't know these people really cared.' Then you feel silly. Of course they cared.

"I wanted to mend all the fences that I felt like I had created. 'Cause I wanted to go back to Pittsburgh, and I didn't want to go back nervous. I didn't want to have to go back like I'm sneaking into town, which is how I did the last couple of times I was there. That was my intent. And the Rooneys -- Dan Rooney -- made it happen. And they made it happen in a grand scale."

The installment tonight also delves into his animosity toward former coach Noll, feelings that were publicly patched at the Dapper Dan Banquet in February -- a speech replayed at the end of the show.

"I was wrong. That's the point here," he tells NFL Films later. "The immaturity process ... and this was what Chuck was trying to do. He was trying to get me to grow up. I didn't see that. But he saw that.

"I love where I am in my life. I want to take me right now back to Pittsburgh at 21 years of age. I'd have a totally different career. Might even win more Super Bowls. I'd certainly play better. I'm a totally different person. And I should be."

Clemente special

ESPN Classic tonight finally gets around to presenting a "SportsCentury" special about the athlete voted No. 71 on its 1999 list of the 20th century's greatest -- Roberto Clemente.

The network didn't air a show about No. 55, Mario Lemieux, until May 2002. At that time, a Clemente show was being produced and tentatively scheduled to air some time during the 2002 World Series. ESPN Classic will broadcast the special at 8 and 11 p.m. today.

Among those also interviewed for the special were ex-Pirates players Manny Sanguillen, Jose Pagan, Steve Blass, Dave Giusti, Dick Groat and Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, along with former broadcaster Nellie King and other members of the Pittsburgh media back then.

Al Oliver says of Clemente's performance in the 1971 World Series: "He carried us on his back. We showed up at the World Series and just took our positions. That's all we did. Just showed up."

Fittingly for a show four years removed from the unveiling of the network's Top 100 century athletes, narrator Chris Fowler closes with mention of the late Hall of Famer being omitted from Major League Baseball's all-century team: "Just due always seemed to elude Roberto Clemente."


Chuck Finder can be reached at cfinder@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1724.

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