Thursday, June 27, 2013 | 12:28 p.m.
Terry Bradshaw in Las Vegas
Terry Bradshaw in Las Vegas
When legendary NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw steps onstage at the Mirage on Friday night to make his Las Vegas show debut, he will fulfill a bucket-list dream. But he’s hoping his entertainment premiere will land him a regular Strip spot and let him tour “A Life in Four Quarters” across America.
“I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s not my comfort zone, but I’m sure having fun performing,” he said at Wednesday’s start-to-finish dress rehearsal. “I missed singing, and being able to sing together with my gorgeous daughter Rachel is just the most wonderful thing in the world.”
Sports stars including Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long, Troy Aikman and his Fox NFL Sunday Sports team will be rooting for him both nights. “The Tonight Show” producers also are set to attend. I’ve learned that Fox Sports will tape the two shows and footage throughout the next NFL season of Sunday shows. Terry retired from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1984 and has since enjoyed a 30-year career as a broadcaster and a motivational speaker.
Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue, who shot our photo gallery of Wednesday’s rehearsal, told me: “It’s a great show with an inspirational message hidden in the humor. In the empty theater, he even managed to bring the few people there to tears with two really moving songs. He’s very funny and a natural off-the-cuff comedian. Who knew he could run the stage as well as he ran the football field as a four-time Super Bowl winner?”
Terry’s producer Anita Mann told me: “It’s a showcase. Terry knows his work calendar is Sunday sports TV from September through February, so that gives us time for a lot of fun every Friday and Saturday. We’ll tour the show, and if he played several weekends a year in Las Vegas, that would be another dream come true for him.
“At rehearsal today, there were no flubs. He didn’t go off-track, so he was very proud he got through it and brought it right to time. He’s happy with the sound and happy with the songs. Every story he tells is relatable to everybody, and, although there’s no set script, we have all the bullet points necessary for him to follow the structured progression as the songs tell his story.”
A six-piece band and four singer-dancers including “Fantasy” headliner Lorena Peril back Terry. Although there’s no intermission, they produce “a halftime show” to give Terry a brief break. He is offstage only 7 minutes during the 90-minute production.
Here are my earlier YouTube interviews with Terry at his first rehearsal a month ago:
His unique life is now a song-and-dance show of growing up in Louisiana, going from football through three marriages and that short stint as a toupee model — as he proudly shows in our photos. Terry told me that the NFL is now very different from when he played.
“It has changed in a lot of ways, more rules to protect the offensive players, quarterbacks especially. Now more rules to protect all players because of the lawsuits and the concussions, more players taking control of their professional lives by protecting themselves with good agents and lawyers, getting second and third opinions about their injuries, and so forth.
“Obviously more money because of television. We have five networks, basically, covering the sport, so they are extremely wealthy now, the players, the really good ones. The player size, players are much bigger physically, taller, heavier. … Probably more athletic in some sense, but not a lot because a guy that is 6’7” and 320 is not going to perform like a guy that is 6’3” and 275.
“I was 6’3” and 215. I was big then. Now the big quarterbacks are 6’4,” 6’5” and 250. They run faster today than we used to.”
Terry is a two-time Super Bowl MVP with the Steelers and a four-time All-Pro. His gospel and country albums include “Here in My Heart, “Until You” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which hit the Top 10. He’s written and co-written five books, including “It’s Only a Game,” a New York Times bestseller.
“It’s the story of my life. We call it ‘America’s Favorite Dumb Blonde’ because it’s really a shot at me. There was always that knock on me that I was stupid. I took stupid and made it smart.”
Terry has recently left his Florida home and is in the thoroughbred horse business and plays cattle rancher between Texas and Oklahoma.
“I am in the process of trying to figure out where I want to live,” he said. “I’ve thought Nevada would be a good place. I’ve been in Texas 23 years, I’ve got a house there, but I don’t want to live there anymore. I live in Oklahoma because my house is 40 minutes from the ranch.
“Here I am 64 and seeing my name up in lights in Las Vegas. I love entertaining people, making them laugh and feel good. I never think about retirement and never will because that would start me dying. This is overtime, and I hope it goes long into triple and quadruple overtime.”
Anita summed up: “Terry is a unique talent. He is hilarious, a great singer and larger-than-life magnetism. It’s an opportunity for football fans, music fans and anybody seeing him on television or in film to hear his life story in a wildly entertaining format. He’s a triple threat with comedy, singing and storytelling, and that makes him a MVP all over again. I’m seeing it as another winning touchdown.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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