The NFL has skyrocketed in revenue and popularity since the AFL-NFL merger took effect in 1970. The game has changed in many ways, and the draft has changed even more dramatically than the game.
The first player taken in the modern, post-merger NFL era was Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Earlier today, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello posted on Twitter a photo of Bradshaw with his father and Steelers coach Chuck Noll from 1970.
But that photo wasn’t taken at the draft, or even on draft day. On draft day, Bradshaw was in Louisiana, getting ready to go fishing.
Bradshaw, who told the whole story last week in a visit to PFT Live, didn’t know the Steelers were even interested in him. After the Steelers won a coin toss with the Bears for the first overall pick, the Bears were trying to pull off a trade with the Steelers to get the pick, but the Steelers held firm, selecting Bradshaw.
Coupled with defensive tackle Joe Greene, the fourth overall pick in 1969 (after O.J. Simpson, George Kunz, and Leroy Keyes), the Steelers began to lay the foundation for a run of greatness that, in this age of free agency and the salary cap, likely will never be duplicated. Bradshaw reflected on all of it, and the entire interview appears below.
Even the part about how we posted that a motorist’s death in 2007 on the Terry Bradshaw Passway in Shreveport had morphed into a rumor that Bradshaw had passed away.