Terry Bradshaw: The Original TB12, And The Original Tom Brady? Hall of Famer Recalls Bizarre Coincidence

Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw likes to claim (correctly) that he is truly the original TB12 in football, but could he be the original Tom Brady, too?

That might actually be the case.

On March 3, 1983, Bradshaw — after a year of playing through elbow pain from an injury suffered in training camp that ultimately required a cortisone shot before every game — checked himself into a Louisiana hospital for elbow surgery to try and fix the issue.

That might not seem all that surprising, considering the pain Bradshaw played through throughout the strike-shortened 1982 season. What was surprising about Bradshaw checking himself into the hospital though was what ultimately ended up being his alias back then.

Thomas Brady.

Yep, you read that right.

Bradshaw, the famous gunslinger of the 70s Steelers, one of the greatest dynasties in professional sports, checked himself into the hospital using an alias to avoid publicity and used Thomas Brady. Athletes using aliases aren’t uncommon, whether that’s going to dinner, staying in a hotel, or whatever it may be.

The fact that Bradshaw chose Thomas Brady though remains quite startling to this day.

Appearing on the “Unbreakable: A Mental Health Podcast” with Fox Sports colleague Jay Glazer Saturday, Bradshaw recalled the Thomas Brady story surrounding his elbow surgery after the 1982 season.

“The Tom Brady story in the Athletic about me using a fake name that ends up being ‘Tom Brady’ is very much true…I had never even thought about it after all these years…,” Bradshaw said to Glazer, according to video via the show’s YouTube page. “That’s prophetic, isn’t it? I mean, wow.”

Back then in 1983, Tom Brady — who would go on to become the greatest quarterback in NFL history during his time with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winning seven Super Bowl titles — was just six years old in the Bay Area in California. While he may have had aspirations of playing professional football back then, nobody would have known that the name Tom Brady would become a household name, especially Bradshaw, who tried to choose the most innocuous name possible entering the hospital for a surgery that would ultimately play a major part in his career coming to an end.

Bradshaw didn’t even remember the use of the alias ahead of his surgery until a 1983 United Press International wire story started making the rounds on Twitter in March of 2021 that he had checked into that Shreveport hospital under the pseudonym Tom Brady.

“Tom Brady! How lucky am I?” Bradshaw told The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette in 2021 regarding the use of the alias. “There’s no question he and I are linked at the hip — same initials, same number. I had hair back then. I was a sex symbol. I had it all going then.”

The late John Clayton, who worked for the Pittsburgh Press at the time, uncovered the use of the alias by Bradshaw in 1983 and reported it. In March of 1983, it wasn’t all that big of a deal what his alias was, with the focus instead being on the procedure itself in the hospital. But, once Brady rose to prominence in the NFL, the alias story became a major one.

Of course, after the elbow surgery, which doctors described as minor at the time and compared to tennis elbow, Bradshaw missed the first 14 games of the 1983 season and then on December 10, 1983 threw a 10-year touchdown pass to Calvin Sweeney. On the play, he felt a pop in his elbow and never threw a pass again.

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