Terry Bradshaw, as he often does, started with a joke before answering a question.
A four-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, league MVP, and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Bradshaw, who played his entire 14-year career with the Steelers, was dead serious when he eventually answered the question of who is the greatest quarterback in franchise history.
"Bobby Layne," Bradshaw said while laughing during his interview with 93.7 The Fan. "They always have those contests, don't they? I would give it to Ben [Roethlisberger]. His numbers far exceed mine. I may have won more Super Bowls, but he is a much better quarterback. I wasn't bad in my era, but he's big, strong, accurate, puts up monstrous numbers, and he's won two Super Bowls. I pass that baton to him, gladly. I absolutely have no problem with that. He deserves it."
Bradshaw, currently an Fox NFL analyst, was critical of Roethlisberger earlier in his career. That early criticism may have created distance between the two that has yet to be closed. Bradshaw, however, hopes that changes sometime soon.
"I don't have a relationship with Ben," Bradshaw said. "I wish I did, but I don't. Probably never will."
Bradshaw also doesn't have a relationship with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who he famously called a "cheerleader" in December of 2017. But, similar to his newfound praise of Roethlisberger, Bradshaw has also softened his stance on Tomlin, who last season led the Steelers to a 8-8 record despite injuries to several marquee players.
"I was coached by a no-nonsense coach, so therefore that has had a great impact on my view of coaches," Bradshaw said. "Chuck Noll was a no-nonsense, in your face, tough ass coach ... It was me having to adjust to the current players and the way they act and the coaches and the way they act.
"I have a couple of friends inside the Steelers who have told me what a wonderful guy he is. That has softened me a great deal. I think [the 2019 season] is the finest coaching job that Mike Tomlin has done. Considering all he lost, I thought he did a hell of a coaching job this year ... I thought he was fantastic."
While he seldom shows up for team-related functions (which is at least partly due to his role on Fox), Bradshaw said that he is "not an outcast Steeler." In fact, he says that his passion for his former team is as strong as its ever been.
"You will never hear me on Fox say an unkind word about the Steelers," said Bradshaw, who was a member of the franchise's inaugural Hall of Honor class. "I may question Mike Tomlin, which I did. I may question Ben, which I did. But for the most part, I'd say 98% of everything I say about Pittsburgh is good, and I do that intentionally. I do that became I love the city, I love the team, I love the players, I love the black and gold, and I always will. I'll always support the Pittsburgh Steelers."