Tom Bradley made his return to Johnstown on Sunday night to serve as the guest speaker at the Bishop McCort Catholic football banquet.
“It’s good to be back home,” Bradley, a Bishop McCort graduate, said in an interview prior to his speech. “I don’t get back home very often. It’s an honor to come back. I have so many great memories. But I remember everything being bigger than what it is. I went past the Point Stadium, and it seemed like it was much bigger when I played.
“I’ve been in different places where there is 110,000, and you go to L.A. or New York, but there is no place like home.”
Bradley, who now lives in Pittsburgh, was hired last year as the Steelers defensive backs coach and just completed his first year with the Black and Gold. The Steelers, who finished 10th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game in 2018, recently hired Teryl Austin as their senior defensive assistant with his focus on the secondary, but Bradley declined to talk about anything regarding the Steelers during the interview.
Art Rooney II recently stated in an interview that the Steelers were now done making coaching changes.
Crimson Crushers coach Brian Basile said that they were fortunate to get Bradley to come back to town.
“We are tremendously excited to have Tom come back here to his roots,” Basile said. “He grew up right across the street from the school and to be an alumnus and his great football history, his playing career and fabulous coaching career, we are very excited.”
Bradley brought more than 35 years of coaching experience from the collegiate level – including more than 30 years from the sidelines at Penn State University – to the Steelers.
Prior to working for the Steelers, Bradley served as the defensive coordinator at the University of California, Los Angeles from 2015-17. Before joining UCLA in 2015, Bradley spent the 2014 season as the senior associate head coach at West Virginia University and oversaw the team’s defensive line.
Before then, Bradley spent more than 30 years on the coaching staff at Penn State, serving as the Nittany Lion’s defensive coordinator from 2000-11 and as interim head coach in 2011.
Bradley helped guide Penn State to 13 double-figure win seasons, 20 years with at least nine wins and 27 bowl appearances, including the 1982 and 1986 national championships. Bradley was tabbed as Rivals Defensive Coordinator in 2008 and named the Associated Press Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2005.
In his career, he has coached 20 All-Americans, 67 all-conference players and had over 50 student-athletes reach the NFL.
Bradley was a member of the Penn State football team from 1975-78, earning letters in his final two seasons in which the Nittany Lions compiled a 22-2 record, and receiving his degree in business in 1979 and a master’s degree in sports administration from Penn State in 1986. He served as a graduate assistant in 1979 at Penn State and became a full-time coach in 1980.
Bradley, an inductee in the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in football, basketball and track and field as a prep student-athlete, planned to talk to the Crimson Crushers about things that he has learned over his career.
“I will probably talk about the values that I received being around people that helped me along the way,” Bradley said.
“I think that sometimes what you need to understand in this world is that you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world. You never know the effect that you can have on somebody. The only people that you have to pay back are the people that help you along the way.
“This is a great area and wherever you go, you are going to remember those high school Friday night games.”
And how long does Bradley, 62, plan to continue coaching?
“I don’t have a set plan,” he said. “I take it from year to year. I don’t really think about it that way.”
Cory Isenberg is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter