As a four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Terry Bradshaw was famous for calling his own plays.
He’s still at it, running the two-minute drill (well, 70-minute drill) in his stage show at Luxor.
“When we took away the script and let me ad-lib the stories, in my own words, that took the fear away,” Bradshaw said during a phone chat Tuesday morning. “I’m an off-the-cuff kind of guy. When we did that, walking onstage was easy.”
As they say in the NFL, move the chains.
Bradshaw is back with his eponymous singing and storytelling show beginning 7:30 p.m. March 19. The series spans 31 dates through the end of July, with Bradshaw filling dates when regular Atrium Showroom headliner Carrot Top is off. Dates extending to the fall and end of the year are to be announced (tickets start at $65.99, not including fees, and are onsale 10 a.m. Friday).
Bradshaw previously performed at Luxor last August and October, and before that at Mirage in 2013. He sings a lot better than you might expect from a former NFL signal caller, sampling from the Everly Brothers (“Bye Bye Love”), Vince Gill (“Go Rest High on the Mountain),” Hank Williams (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry),” along with the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans staple “Happy Trails.”
As in his previous shows, Bradshaw and producer Anita Mann will spotlight vocalists Lorena Peril and Anne Martinez, with Laura Wright as the swing. “Smokin” Joe Escriba heads up Bradshaw’s backing band, and we can expect something inventive from Bradshaw’s stage attire. Having just watched “Bohemian Rhapsody,” an inspired Bradshaw walked out in a Freddy Mercury-inspired jacket in his opening last August.
Bradshaw is a funny dude. One might say he is even goofy.
“It’s hard to believe they would want me to do a — what do you call it? — a residency,” he says. “It’s pretty cool when I say it.”
Bradshaw was born with a passion for singing, but he’s led a football life. He remains a popular panelist on Fox Sports’ NFL coverage. Bradshaw has especially bonded with co-host and former Dallas Cowboys coach and GM Jimmy Johnson, who was told he would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during Fox’s Sunday telecast.
Keeping in character, Bradshaw shouted “Yes! Whoo!” and pumped his fist when Pro Football Hall of Fame CEO David Baker showed up unannounced during Sunday’s pregame coverage of the Packers-Seahawks NFC Divisional playoff game.
Aside from host Curt Menefee, the broadcast team was unaware Baker would drop that bomb. But Bradshaw says he and Johnson talked about that possibility on Saturday night. Baker arrived on the CBS set to make the same announcement to a stunned Bill Cowher, the ex-Pittsburgh Steelers coach.
Bradshaw and Johnson returned to L.A. and celebrated over spaghetti and beer at the famous Hollywood restaurant Dan Tana’s.
“Jimmy and I are best friends, we do everything together, and I wanted to love on him all night long,” Bradshaw said, laughing. “I was so proud for him, so proud. He got emotional and you could see how much it meant to him. You could feel it. It was my greatest moment in broadcasting, easily.”
Bradshaw and Johnson conferred about who would present Johnson at the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio. It won’t be Bradshaw, who played his entire career for the Steelers.
“I told him, ‘I’m not a Cowboy. You need Troy Aikman, or someone who is very close in your life,’ ” Bradshaw said. It might well be Aikman, who teared up while watching the moment from his broadcast perch at Lambeau Field.
Bradshaw will be with the Fox team in San Francisco for Sunday’s NFC championship game between the 49ers and Packers. He likes the home teams — San Francisco and the Kansas City Chiefs — to win both title games this weekend.
“The Chiefs have been my pick to win the AFC — and my wife (Tammy) is a big fan and is actually going to the game,” Bradshaw said as Tammy could be heard whooping it up in the background. “The 49ers are playing so good, and they beat the pants off the Packers the first time they played. I don’t have any reservations about taking the home-field guys in these games.”
Bradshaw’s zeal for football, and for his off-field singing forays, is still strong. He turned 71 in September, between his performances on the Strip. The front man ditched his script during the very first show in August and just let it fly.
“The second show, when I walked out, I couldn’t wait to go onstage,” he said. “It’s like going from your rookie year to your third or fourth year in the league. You’ve seen everything and you realize, hey, I can play in this league.”
Bradshaw asked for the house lights to be turned up. He likes to see the crowd.
“I thought, hey, these people are my age! This is great! I can’t go wrong here!” he said, laughing once more. “It took all the anxiety, the self doubting away. The confidence came then. It was there, and I liked it.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.