Steeler Quarterback Terry Bradshaw: Anxious and Depressed?
As quarterback, Terry Bradshaw helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win four Super Bowls in the 1970s. The personality he revealed in his post-game interviews and his announcing career that followed led most of us to believe he had a jocular approach to life. Why wouldn’t he? For heavens sakes, sports journalists lauded him as one of the all time greatest quarterbacks. He was handsome and popular with women.
After his NFL career ended, however, Bradshaw admitted that after games panic and anxiety often overwhelmed him in the locker room. The problem worsened after his third divorce in the late 1990s. He explained that he "could not bounce back" as he had before. He lost weight, experienced crying spells and insomnia. Meanwhile, his anxiety hadn’t improved. Once he was diagnosed with clinical depression, he began taking the antidepressant Paxil CR. Since then he has become a champion for removing the stigma of depression and urging people to get the help they need. In fact, during 2004 he travelled around the U.S. speaking about the prevalence of depression.
It’s a shame when people compare themselves to the public image of celebrities and athletes and find themselves coming up short. Almost every star’s on-screen persona has been airbrushed, coached and manipulated by a team of public relations experts, makeup artists and advisors. I applaud Terry Bradshaw for coming clean with what really went on in the locker room after the film crew went home. The stress involved in football games must be unbearable even for the very toughest of men. I wonder how many more football players struggle to this extent and try to keep it quiet. That would be a terrible shame.
Life can become unbearable for anyone, no matter their strength of character. When it does, the strongest go out to get help so that the problem can be rectified as quickly and efficiently as possible. Terry Bradshaw found a medication and other therapies that enabled him to continue a life in the public sphere. Now that he no longer hides his struggles with mood, he is a free man.