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Strange but true: Terry Bradshaw checked into hospital under alias 'Tom Brady' in 1983

Liz Roscher
·4 min read
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File this one under "How did no one know about this until now?!"

The Twitter account Quirky Research, which features tons of interesting NFL tidbits from years past, tweeted a truly mind-blowing article on Wednesday.

On Feb. 3, 1983, when then-Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw needed offseason elbow surgery, he decided to go incognito. He didn't check into Doctor's Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana, under his own name, and instead used the alias "Tom Brady." Yes, really.

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There's no way Bradshaw or anyone besides a genuine clairvoyant could have known that "Tom Brady" was the name of a six-year-old California boy who would one day become perhaps the greatest quarterback the game has ever seen. Bradshaw was just trying to avoid fans while having his elbow surgically repaired, though that didn't stop him from visiting sick children and cheering them up during his stay, which is pretty adorable.

It's also weird that Bradshaw wasn't quoted for this story at all. Only the doctor that operated on Bradshaw, Dr. William Burdick, and hospital administrator Charles Boyd were quoted for the story. It's not clear if Bradshaw gave permission for the hospital to tell the story (and burn his alias), or if the hospital decided to snag a headline or two and talk to the press about it. It's also possible that Bradshaw could have been too busy to be quoted; the article says that after the surgery he "went to New York to film a commercial and served as grand marshall [sic] for the CocaCola 500 stock car race."

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots with the Vince Lombardi trophy talks with Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw after the Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime of Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Terry Bradshaw used the name "Tom Brady" to check into a hospital in Feb. 1983, 17 years before the real Tom Brady would make his NFL debut. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the surgery wasn't the end of Bradshaw's elbow problems. Against the advice of his doctor he started throwing a few months later and re-injured his elbow. He didn't end up playing for the Steelers until the 15th game of the 1983 season, and then felt his elbow pop while throwing what would be the final pass of his career. He retired after that season, leaving the name "Tom Brady" behind for the real Brady to use when he made his NFL debut 17 years later.

Bradshaw confirms he used Tom Brady alias

Just because a story appeared in a newspaper in 1983 doesn't mean it's true, especially since Bradshaw wasn't quoted. Thankfully, in this case, it is true. 

Bradshaw confirmed with Ed Bouchette of The Athletic that he used "Tom Brady" as his hospital alias when he had elbow surgery in 1983, and he was completely tickled to be reminded of that incident. 

“Tom Brady! How lucky am I?” Bradshaw told The Athletic. “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.”

Bradshaw said that he hadn't remembered that he'd used "Tom Brady" as his alias until he saw the story, which triggered the memory. According to Bouchette, Bradshaw spent most of their phone call laughing and poking fun at the incident until he had to hang up and go back to work. 

“Everything Tom Brady has today is because of me, do you know that?” Bradshaw laughed. “Think about it. Every record he owns he had to go through me. Get used to that, Tom Brady.”

Bradshaw again cackled into the phone.

“Oh my goodness. Let me tell you this, and you’re only going to get this from the original TB, all right? I went 4-0 in the Super Bowl. All right, first one. The second one to do it was the greatest of all time, Joe Montana. All right? He tied my record, never broke it.

“Then comes Tom Brady. I’m 4-0, Joe’s 4-0. Brady wins his seventh. Win eight, win nine, who cares? Now you take seven victories but you subtract his three losses and you come up with four. Four, four, four. That’s all I got to say and I got to go.”

May we all enjoy the experience of life as much as Terry Bradshaw seems to. If there's any takeaway from this Tom Brady alias story, it's that. 

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