Blue-Eyed Soul Brother

`

Blue-Eyed Soul Brother

The Versatile Football Life of Super Bill Bradley

William C. Kashatus
Foreword by Ray Didinger

336 pages
25 photographs, 3 tables, 2 appendixes, index

Hardcover

October 2024

978-1-4962-4042-2

$34.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Blue-Eyed Soul Brother tells the life story of NFL All-Pro free safety Bill Bradley, who was known on the gridiron as much for his fierce competitiveness as he was for his whimsical nonconformity off it. Bradley was among the first NFL players to hold out for a bigger salary and challenge the status quo with his long hair, bushy mustache, and free-spirited lifestyle.

Beginning in high school, Bradley stood up for the civil rights of his Black teammates and was instrumental in breaking down the color barrier in Texas high school football. A highly recruited scholastic quarterback, Bradley played for the University of Texas Longhorns for three seasons. Unable to run the wishbone offense, Bradley was demoted and switched to defensive back, where he reinvented himself as a ball hawk. After being drafted by the lowly Philadelphia Eagles, he became a triple threat who punted, returned, and played free safety and was the first player to lead the NFL in interceptions in consecutive seasons.

After a thirty-year coaching career in the World Football, Canadian Football, and National Football Leagues, Bradley retired to his native Texas. There, he and his wife, Susan, cared for their son, Matt, a talented college quarterback who became a paraplegic after a savage assault by a drunk college student. Matt made a heroic eleven-year effort to regain the use of his voice and motor skills before he died in 2020. Today, Bill is engaged in another struggle, this one with memory loss and other cognitive impairments caused by the many concussions he suffered during his nine-year playing career in the NFL. But he is determined to live his life to the fullest.

Blue-Eyed Soul Brother is the inspirational story of a man whose contagious enthusiasm for life raised the spirits of those around him in both good and bad times—a story about the resilience of the human spirit in the face of personal tragedy, and a story to remember when life doesn’t appear to be going your way.
 

Author Bio

William C. Kashatus is a historian, educator, and the author of more than twenty books, including Lefty and Tim: How Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver Became Baseball’s Best Battery (Nebraska, 2022), Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code (Nebraska, 2017), and Jackie and Campy: The Untold Story of Their Rocky Relationship and the Breaking of Baseball’s Color Line (Nebraska, 2014). Ray Didinger is a sportswriter, sports commentator, radio personality, and the author of several books. He is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the Writers’ Honor Roll for his sports writing career, which spanned more than a quarter of a century.
 

Praise

“William Kashatus captures the rise and fall and rise of Super Bill Bradley. His access to Bradley pays off big time. The book brims with inside information and sharp anecdotes. All are told in the context of the times with special attention to civil rights, Vietnam, high-stakes amateurism, the rising counterculture, substance abuse, the relentless pressure placed on young men to whip each other at a child’s game, and, most importantly, to Bradley’s journey from player to husband and father. It’s a hell of a good read.”—Bobby Hawthorne, author of Longhorn Football: An Illustrated History

Blue-Eyed Soul Brother is the inspirational story of Bill Bradley, my friend and teammate on the Philadelphia Eagles between 1971 and 1976. Although those were difficult years because of all the losing, Billy was a team leader who made the rest of us accountable on the playing field and kept us loose and laughing off of it. With this book, others will learn how fiercely competitive Bradley was as a player and how special he is as a person.”—Harold Carmichael, Philadelphia Eagles Wide receiver, 1971–83, and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Class of 2020

“William Kashatus captures the essence of the greatest athlete I have ever seen. Super Bill Bradley was not only one of the NFL’s best free safeties, but punted, returned, and held for our kickers. He was the ultimate ‘free spirit’ off the field, but the fiercest on the gridiron. . . . I treasured the years we played together in Philadelphia and am grateful for his lifelong friendship.”—John Bunting, Philadelphia Eagles Linebacker, 1972–82

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Ray Didinger
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Palestine
2. Friday Night Lights
3. Blue-Eyed Soul Brother
4. Longhorns
5. Reality Check
6. Penthouse to Shithouse
7. Billy Bo Bitch
8. Bamboozled
9. Teacher-Coach
10. Faith, Hope, and Love
Appendix A: Bill Bradley’s NFL Career Statistics, 1969–77
Appendix B: Bill Bradley’s College Career Statistics, 1966–68
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

Also of Interest