Clifford Lewis Stoudt
During the first several years of Cliff Stoudt’s NFL career, he was familiar as the guy with a clipboard in his hands charting plays on the Steelers’ sideline. That was because he played quarterback behind Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw and rarely got to step on the field. In fact, he took his first official snap during his fourth year in the league and finally got the opportunity to become Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback in 1983—his seventh NFL season—when Bradshaw was injured.
However, the following season there was considerable talk that Bradshaw would stage a comeback, and Stoudt decided to accept an offer to play for the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions. Even though he enjoyed moderate success the year he started for the Steelers, Stoudt recently said, “The way it worked out for me, I was much more popular as a backup.
Looking back, I wish I would have stuck around and made it work, taken a better shot at it in Pittsburgh. But after the year I started, everybody thought Terry was coming back, and we had a form of free agency, but it was so restrictive that there was no movement. Three years after I left, Pittsburgh still owned my rights in the NFL. But I will always wonder. Things went very well in the USFL, so had I stuck around, I think I could have turned things around in Pittsburgh.”
Stoudt, 52, now lives in Dublin, Ohio, with his wife, Laura. For the past seven years, he’s worked for the investment firm K.W. Chambers Co. His son Zack, the top high school quarterback in Ohio in 2007, will play at the college level for coach Dave Wannstedt’s Pitt Panthers.
Here’s more from Pittsburgh magazine’s recent question-and-answer session with Cliff Stoudt:
PM: Coming out of Youngstown State, did you feel you had a legitimate shot at becoming the Steelers’ starting quarterback some day?
C.S.: It was an incredible experience making that jump from Youngstown State to Pittsburgh, but I always believed I had the ability to do it or they wouldn’t have drafted me. I believed my chance would come one day. I didn’t think it would take seven years though. I was excited when I first got drafted, because Terry Bradshaw had a history of getting hurt, so I thought, “Hey, I’m going to get a chance to play.” But it didn’t work out quite that way.
PM: What was the toughest part of following a quarterback as accomplished as Terry Bradshaw?
C.S.: Just the fact that he was such a legend. They had been to four Super Bowls during his reign, so trying to fill his shoes was a tough job. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as well as I would have hoped in Pittsburgh. But I still have tremendous memories, and when I look back on it, my seven years there were the seven best years of my life.
PM: How far could you throw a football at the height of your career?
C.S.: The farthest I ever threw a ball in college was 85 yards. But that was a little different football. The NFL football—I could throw it about 75 yards.
PM: How far do you think you could throw one today?
C.S.: Pretty close to the same. I’ve done football camps and a lot of individual training with quarterbacks—including my own kids—so I still throw the ball quite a bit, and the arm doesn’t seem to weaken much. The legs probably have. But I guess it’s like riding a bike. It’s something you never forget.
PM: Now that your son Zack has committed to Pitt, what are you going to do with the money you saved for his college education?
C.S.: Well, I imagine a lot of that money will be spent going to football games. It’s nice that Pittsburgh is only three hours away from our house. You’ve also got Cincinnati, Louisville and West Virginia in that conference that aren’t too far away. In fact, they’re closer for us than Pittsburgh. There won’t be too many long road trips, which works out great.
PM: What will it be like for you if Zack takes the field as the starting quarterback of the Pitt Panthers some day?
C.S.: Well, it will be very special. Even though my kids weren’t born in Pittsburgh, because of my career, Pittsburgh is very dear to their heart. A big part of Zack’s decision to commit to Pitt was just the city of Pittsburgh. He has a lot of pride in the fact that I played there, and now he has a chance to play in the same city. That means a lot to him, and that will add to our excitement if that day comes.
Full Name: Clifford Lewis Stoudt
Date of Birth: March 27, 1955
Uniform Number: 18
Years as a Steeler: 1977-1983
Career Highlights: Selected by Pittsburgh in the fifth round of the 1977 draft out of Youngstown State University…Threw for 2,553 yards and 12 touchdowns as the Steelers’ starting quarterback in 1983 and helped the team to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth…Left Pittsburgh to sign with the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions and threw 62 touchdown passes in two seasons there (1984-1985)…Spent time with the NFL’s St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals (1986-1988) and Miami Dolphins (1989)…Played the beginning of 1990 with Miami and finished the season with Dallas…Then played with Dallas through Sept. of 1991.