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cheap louis vuitton luggage A bond strong as brothers
If timing really is everything, then Terry Bradshaw’s timing for his arrival in Charlottesville on Saturday wasn’t very good.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the top football analysts in the business was en route as part of four cities in a week whistle stop tour, ending at a gala for the new Boys and Girls Club facility on Cherry Avenue. Bradshaw and his longtime pal and Charlottesville resident, Howie Long, were headlining the event along with FOX NFL Sunday host Curt Menefee.
With tornado watches everywhere, the 62 year old former Steeler couldn’t wait to land.
“Thank God that I know my Jesus,” Bradshaw said once safely on the ground. “Today got to me. I was looking for my bourbon and I definitely wanted to kiss the ground.”
As soon as his plane touched down in Charlottesville, the first thing Bradshaw spotted was Long, donned in saggy warm up pants, a hat and a coffee for his friend.
“First thing Howie said to me was, ‘I’m sorry man,'” Bradshaw said. “I said, ‘shut up, I don’t want to hear it.'”
When you’re best of friends you can get away with talking to another Pro Hall of Famer like that.
Such is the relationship between Bradshaw and Long, a kinship that began nearly 18 years ago almost by chance and has developed to a bond as strong as brothers.
Long jokingly refers to Bradshaw as “the older brother I never wanted.”
As much as they kid one another, Long said it’s one of those deals that if you had to call someone at one o’clock in the morning in a snowstorm and you had a flat tire, who would it be. In each case, Long and Bradshaw would call one another.
“We started out as the odd couple,” Bradshaw said. “We’re like apples and oranges.”
In fact, the two men couldn’t have been much more different. They’re 12 years apart in age. Long grew up in Boston, Bradshaw in Louisiana. Bradshaw is Baptist, Long is Catholic. One was a quarterback, the other a defensive lineman. One was a Steeler, the other a Raider.
They didn’t even know one another until FOX gambled on a new concept to introducing the NFL on a unique one hour, pre game show (up until then such shows were only 30 minutes). FOX producer David Hill, an Australian who didn’t know much about pro football, wanted to give viewers a show that would make them feel like they were sitting around in a living room listening to guys talk football.
Bradshaw, who had previously done work for CBS Sports, would be the drawing card with James Brown (later replaced by Menefee) as host. FOX wanted two more guys, retired Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and someone else.
That someone turned out to be Long. But it wasn’t that easy.
“I auditioned Howie for FOX,” said Bradshaw. “It wasn’t a good audition.”
Prior to that encounter,
the two had only met in passing at a Super Bowl.
“FOX was looking for personalities I think, but they had signed me, so they had a big mouth personality,” Bradshaw said. “Howie’s audition didn’t go so well. He came in with an encyclopedia of knowledge. He’s always overprepared. I mean, we’re at the Sugar Bowl and I’m downstairs having a beer with his wife (the charming Diane Long), and Howie’s upstairs breaking stuff down. I don’t think that’s what [FOX] had in mind they just wanted to see how we got along.”
Long had just announced his retirement from the game and nobody knew about it, including as it turned out, Raiders owner Al Davis. Long was 34, had just been to the Pro Bowl and was coming off his ninth operation.
He and Diane had been thinking about him leaving the game. As he likes to say, his body was being held together by duct tape and glue.
“I don’t know if I could have handled just being an average player,” Long said. “In baseball, as your career winds down, your average drops 30 or 40 percentile. In football, you get your butt handed to you. The last year, was a challenge. It took everything I had and I was too proud to keep playing at a less than expected level.”
At that point, no player had ever gone from the field straight to the studio. Rather, they usually were assigned the fourth or fifth best game of the weekend.
Well, not this time. Hill had something different in mind.
The FOX pre game show is not rehearsed, but as Menefee pointed out Saturday, about 70 percent ad libbed. There’s a lot of natural reaction.
As Long remembered, the football purists thought this FOX production was going to turn the NFL Sunday into the Simpsons. However, the show revolutionized how pre game shows were done and shows today oddly bare a strong resemblance to FOX’s innovation.
“They sat me down next to Terry for my audition and said, ‘You sit there and just react,'” Long recalled. “You never know what you’re going to get. I was over prepared, very methodical, point A to B to C. I had spoken to everyone in the league, including the commissioner. I was trying to be Bob Costas.”
In fact, Long was everything Hill didn’t want him to be.
“But you walk in there and nobody tells you what they want you to do,” Long said. “They said, ‘We’re pretending it’s week seven and here are the games, issues at hand,
now go with it”