Art Rooney, the 82-year-old owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, toddled into the training room at Three Rivers Stadium recently to see for himself what all the commotion was about. At one end of the room sat an 18 X 12 X 4-inch metal box with a pencillike device dangling from it on a cord. The box was blinking and beeping, doing all sorts of space-age stuff.
"What do we have here?" Rooney said, poking his way through a crowd of players. "Somebody from the circus?"
"No, Boss," replied Terry Bradshaw, the Steeler quarterback who missed Pittsburgh's first 14 games this season with an ailing throwing arm, "it's the Miracle Machine."
"Hmmm. Miracle Machine?" Rooney said with a laugh. "Let me try." He held out his arthritic right hand. Terry Eberhardt, a physical therapist from Shreve-port, La., ran the "pencil" over Rooney's hand. The pain vanished. Rooney stared at his hand. And stared. And stared. He jumped up and bounced down the hall, stopping everybody he saw. "Look at this!" he exclaimed, making a fist for the first time in almost two years.
"Isn't it amazing?" Bradshaw said. "I just love this thing!"
And no wonder. The Miracle Machine, a.k.a. Acuscope, has given the 35-year-old Bradshaw new life, and in the process it has given a big boost to the Steelers' playoff prospects.
A month ago Bradshaw's right arm was so sore from off-season elbow surgery and a strained triceps that it was virtually useless. After having used that arm to throw for 27,912 yards and 210 touchdowns in his 14-year NFL career, Bradshaw had become almost completely a lefthander. "Just squeezing something brought him to his knees in pain," Eberhardt says. But on Nov. 19, Bradshaw began undergoing daily treatments on the Miracle Machine and, well.... Do you believe in miracles?
Last Saturday at Shea Stadium, Bionic Bradshaw took the field with his Miracle Machine Arm and picked apart the New York Jets. He hadn't taken a snap from center in an NFL game since Jan. 9, but on the Steelers' second series, with Jet Defensive End Mark Gastineau dancing in his face, Bradshaw tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Gregg Garrity. He came back early in the second quarter to hit Calvin Sweeney over the middle with a 10-yard scoring throw for a 14-0 lead. "I was nervous," Bradshaw said afterward, "but once I got on the field it was like a duck taking to water."
After his second touchdown pass, Bradshaw had to leave the game. He'd bruised his right elbow, having hit it on a Jet's helmet on one play and fallen on it on another. He'd completed five of eight passes for 77 yards, and later, in the locker room, he vowed he'd be back for the playoffs.
Going into the game against New York, Pittsburgh badly needed to be energized. It had lost three straight after a 9-2 start, and in those three defeats, Bradshaw's backup, Cliff Stoudt, had been inept, completing only 30 of 74 passes (40.5%) for 339 yards, with six interceptions and just two TDs.