The Secret Diary of Terry Bradshaw. By GPT-3 and Me

I’ve been running a few experiments with Open AI’s GPT-3 to see what it can do. We ended up writing a novel together. If this is your first time hearing about GPT-3, it’s a general purpose language model that takes in text inputs and returns natural language outputs.

A few years back, I was playing with GPT-2 trying to generate some new book titles, one of which was The Secret Diary of Terry Bradshaw.

With beta access for GPT-3, I ran a few experiments to see how capable it was, and what it can do is beyond astonishing. To produce something like this doesn’t take much effort. You make some settings, run it, tweak settings, rerun, pick a direction that sounds promising, and eventually you get something that would never have come about any other way.

It has the tone of a teenage diary written from the perspective of Terry Bradshaw. It’s got characters, an overarching narrative, twists, turns, etc. The story doesn’t exactly make sense in some places, but everything sounds plausible. It warned me about “Inappropriate Content” in chapter 3, but it doesn’t end up being too bad.

Without further adieu, I give you The Secret Diary of Terry Bradshaw.

Chapter 1: They Can’t Catch Me
Chapter 2: Why I Couldn’t Stop Crying In Front Of The Camera
Chapter 3: I Was Too Drunk To Have Sex With A Hooker
Chapter 4: I Went To Disney World And All I Got Were These Mickey Mouse Gloves
Chapter 5: In The Hotel Bathroom With My Best Friend, Troy Aikman
Chapter 6: I Hate The Dallas Cowboys
Chapter 7: I Didn’t Know I Was Rich
Chapter 8: I Found A Group Of People I Can Actually Trust
Chapter 9: My Deepest, Darkest Secret

Chapter 1: They Can’t Catch Me

March 1, 1960
Dear Diary,

Since I have been in the NFL, nobody has been able to catch me. I am the greatest quarterback to ever play the game! NOBODY… can catch me.

It started back in college at Louisiana State University. My position coach, Mike Stock, was just a young coach back then. Mike and I got along real well. He told me that if I mastered all of his plays, I’d be on my way to stardom. And that’s exactly what happened.

We ran a lot of shovel plays with me being the shovel. I would line up deep in the backfield as a fake spade. Usually, we had two big blockers out there — Early Doucet and Richard Dickson. The fake spade was a traditional shovel play — we ran it over and over again.

Mister Stock was a young coach when he tutored me at LSU. So young, his hair was still brown. He had brown hair even in the Super Bowl X, his first year of coaching. That’s how young he was. I don’t know why he got so old so fast… sometimes it just happens like that… and it happened to Mister Stock.

I’ve got a secret for you Diary. I’ve been fooling the world for over five decades now. It’s my proudest achievement. Nobody knows… nobody but you and me.

I’m not the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. That’s a secret that I’ve kept from the world. I’ve been fooling everybody and it’s because of you Diary. You’ve helped me so much. It started when I was a kid.

When I was playing for the New Orleans Saints I went through a tough time. I couldn’t get the job done. Mister Stock was there again, just like he always was. He helped me out. He’s a real friend. After throwing four interceptions in the game, I threw five more during warmups before kickoff of the Super Bowl. I had never thrown so many interceptions before. The pressure was immense!

When we went out onto the field for the Super Bowl, it was even worse — there were over 100,000 people packed into Giants Stadium yelling at me. All I could hear was Charlie Thomas taunting me and them yelling for my head. It was overwhelming!

“You won’t throw another touchdown, Bradshaw!”

Charlie Thomas was right. We were down 21 to 0 with five minutes to play. The Cowboys were on their way to a Super Bowl victory. But they didn’t win it… I did. I brought the team back!

I threw a touchdown with three minutes to play. We were still in the game!

Then with just seconds left on the clock, I threw another one into the end zone. The game was tied and in overtime we won! It was magical… I’ve never been so happy! So proud! So excited!

As I stood there at midfield, holding the Super Bowl trophy, Charlie Thomas came up to me and congratulated me. He took a step forward and held out his hands for me to shake his. “Good game, Bradshaw.”

That’s when I punched him.

He wasn’t expecting it — nobody was. It was my biggest play of the game and nobody knew about it, not even Diary… but now you do.

I punched Charlie Thomas as hard as I could in the face. I watched him fall to the ground unconscious as confetti rained down around us and photographers snapped pictures. I was breathing hard, my chest pumping up and down. I stood over him, looking down. I was smiling. I was laughing.

I got it wrong Diary… I thought it was Charlie Thomas who was going to be the hero of the game, but it turned out to be me! I’m the NFL’s greatest villain!

Chapter 2: Why I Couldn’t Stop Crying In Front Of The Camera

Dear Diary,

I’m happy the Steelers are retiring my number. It’s going to be a very special day. I’ve had some great moments, and it’s time for me to enjoy them with my friends and family.

And there’s something else that makes this retirement extra special: I can cry in front of the whole world without anybody making fun of me.

When the Steelers announced they were retiring my number, I saw an old clip that I hadn’t seen in years. It was the 1979 Super Bowl and I was at a press conference just after our victory. The reporters were peppering me with questions but all I could do was cry. I cried all the way through the press conference, for almost two minutes straight.

Back then it was a bad thing. It made me look like a real jerk. I didn’t cry because I was upset over the game or anything like that. In fact, I wasn’t really even crying. All my eyes were doing was leaking. It was something I couldn’t control.

I can’t really explain it Diary, but I’ve had this eye condition for as long as I can remember. My pupils have a hard time keeping moisture in them and it causes my eyes to water constantly. When I’m excited or emotional about something, my eyes just can’t seem to stop watering. It’s very frustrating for me.

My mom once told me I was crying when I was just a baby! Apparently I cried so much that she called the doctor. He came over and examined me. He turned to my mom and said: “There’s nothing wrong with your baby. He’s crying because he’s happy!”

Nowadays I take medicine for it, but I don’t like to admit it because it makes me seem weak. When I played football I didn’t want anybody to know. It was my secret. I never even told Mister Stock.

But, Diary, it’s okay for me to cry today. I’ve got my eye medicine with me and I’m going to be surrounded by my family and loved ones. And the whole world will see it.

It’s my Super Bowl. I’m the hero of the story!

Chapter 3: I Was Too Drunk To Have Sex With A Hooker

Dear Diary,

There are some rumors out there about me and prostitutes. I’d like to set the record straight.

I’ve never had sex with a prostitute. For one thing, I think it’s a waste of money. They’re nothing but trouble. I remember one time when I was in San Francisco for Super Bowl X — in January 1976. I got so drunk that I couldn’t even have sex with a hooker! The whole night I was trying to get it up, but I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried or how much that hooker kept yelling at me, all she got was a lot of grief.

I later found out that she was a professional athlete with the Chicago Bulls. I remember her name… it was Cheryl Miller. She played point guard and later went on to become a Hall-of-Famer. What a waste… I had a chance to get it on with a real Hall of Famer and I blew it!

There are all sorts of rumors out there about me and hookers. People say I sought them out for sex. That’s not true. It was always the other way around. Whenever I visited a new city, they’d come looking for me. And one time in particular, well, let’s just say she had really big hands for a girl. That was in New York City, back during Super Bowl XLI. I remember she was called Fatima… but she called herself Noodles.

It was in the days before Super Bowl XLI (or 38, or whatever they’re calling it) when I was still with the Steelers and I went to New York to do some media and commercial work. I did a photo shoot for some commercials and had just gotten out of the shower in my hotel suite. I was putting on my robe when there was a knock at my door. It was Noodles.

She seemed surprised to see me naked, but she acted like she wasn’t. She walked into my room as if mine was the only room she visited. She must have been in her late thirties but she was dressed like a streetwalker. She had on boots and fishnet stockings and wild makeup.

She was a very large woman. I wasn’t sure if she had had some work done on her face or if it really was that big, but one thing was for sure: her hands were freakishly big.

They looked like catcher’s mitts.

“Mister Bradshaw…?” she said. “I was told you might need some help relaxing.” She lifted her arms up, holding something in front of my face. “Take a look at these babies!” It took me a moment to realize Noodles was holding two furry nunchuks. “You think I can break a watermelon with these?”

I had no idea what to say. Instead of responding I just stared at her. She was playing it cool, but I could tell she was nervous because of the way her eyes darted around the room. “C’mon,” she said, “You know you want to try them.”

“Not really,” I replied.

“Fine,” she said, “I’ll just go home then.” And with that she reached into her purse, pulled out a pamphlet and threw it at me. It was for the New York Hookers Union.

“Don’t forget to call us if you change your fucking mind!” she said, grabbing her coat and storming out of the room.

Chapter 4: I Went To Disney World And All I Got Were These Mickey Mouse Gloves

Dear Diary,

Once again I’ve been invited to the White House. President Bush wants me to go see Mickey Mouse, and not just at a photo op, but at Disney World!

I’ve been to a bunch of these things and I’ve never enjoyed them. They always treat you like you’re a kid. No matter how old you are, they treat you like you’re a kid.

They take me to the Magic Kingdom with all the other kids. It’s pathetic. I guess I can see why they do it; the President likes to pretend he’s a regular guy, just like them. I guess that’s his way of showing us he cares.

But if you ask me, I don’t see what’s so special about Mickey Mouse. Sure, he’s cute or whatever, but so are a lot of other things. Like my dog, Latrine. She’s a cute little thing and she always wants to hear me sing her favorite song: “The Wheels On The Bus.” My daughter, Dana, likes to sing it too. I can tell she wants me to sing it for Latrine but I’m not going to talk to a dog!

Dana also likes ELO and Albino Boobies. Her favorite band is ELO and she loves the Albino Boobies. She has some records of theirs that she plays over and over again for Latrine. I remind her to put them away when people come to visit, but she never does.

I also have a pet pig, named Piggy. He’s really intelligent and he’s always trying to say something to me, but I can’t understand him. I wonder if he’d like ELO and Albino Boobies…?

Dear Diary,

I love my family, but they drive me bonkers sometimes. My daughter Dana always wants to sing her Albino Boobies songs for Latrine.

Chapter 5: In The Hotel Bathroom With My Best Friend, Troy Aikman

Dear Diary,

I’m in the bathroom with Troy Aikman. We’re together right now, just the two of us. We’ve been in here for a while. I don’t know how long because I’ve taken some pills.

I didn’t mean to take any pills, but Troy gave them to me. He told me it was to help me relax and feel better about retirement. I wasn’t planning on taking any pills, but then Troy suggested I take one and he said it was okay.

I’ve never taken something like that before, but I trusted Troy. I didn’t even ask him what it was or if it would make me high or anything like that. I just took one.

I feel so relaxed right now Diary.

I’m getting kind of sleepy and my arms and legs are really heavy. That happens sometimes when I take my medicine, but this is different. This feels great, a lot better than usual.

I’m not sure how long it will last. The medicine usually wears off pretty quickly, but these pills are different. They’re something special — something new. I think they’re some sort of steroid, maybe even something more than steroids. I didn’t even know they made stuff that could be any stronger than steroids. I don’t like steroids, but these are fine. I just want to lay down for a second. I think I’ll take a little nap.

I hope I don’t miss the Steelers’ ceremony for my number retirement. I hope Troy woke me up in time.

Chapter 6: I Hate The Dallas Cowboys

Dear Diary,

I hate the Dallas Cowboys. I hate the Dallas Cowboys. I will always hate the Dallas Cowboys.

I can never forgive the Cowboys. I can never forget what they did to me.

I can’t forget the time I was injured. I had a concussion. My doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to play in the game. But Mister Stock said, “Hey Bradshaw, you gotta play. The Cowboys are coming to town.”

“But Mister Stock,” I said. “The doctor said I wasn’t supposed to play.”

“What’s that?” Mister Stock said. “I can’t hear you.”

“I said I can’t play! I have a concussion!”

“Oh, I can’t hear you,” Mister Stock said. “You have to play. It’s a tradition.”

I went out and played against the Cowboys.

The Cowboys beat me up. They were out to get me.

I could not believe how vicious they were.

I had to get back at them. The Cowboys would be back in Pittsburgh in two weeks and I decided I was going to ice their kicker.

Vince Ditka was their coach. I went up to him and told him to keep his kicker away from me. “I’m going to break his leg,” I said. “I’m going to give him a Terry Bradshaw ankle.”

Ditka looked at me. “Do you mean a Terry Bradshaw ankle sprain?” he said.

“No,” I said. “I mean a Terry Bradshaw ankle. Just like the ones you have.”

I don’t think Ditka knew what I was talking about, but when the Cowboys came back to Pittsburgh, there was a brand new rule on the books. The rule was called the Terry Bradshaw Rule. It said that you couldn’t injure a kicker. If you did, you’d get a ten yard penalty and a fine.

The Cowboys’ kicker was supposed to be out for the season, but he came back in just a couple of weeks.

He was wearing a brace on his right leg, and when he tried to plant his foot, the spike on his shoe got caught in the turf. He fell over and his knee went into the ground and he tore his ACL.

The Steelers won the Super Bowl.

Chapter 7: I Didn’t Know I Was Rich

Dear Diary,

I’m rich! And I didn’t know it!

The other day, Mister Stock stopped by my house and told me I was rich. I didn’t know how to react.

I asked Mister Stock how I got so rich. He said it was because of my Super Bowl winnings. He said I cashed in on them and that I should have done it a long time ago.

Thanks to Mister Stock, I’m going to be able to buy some new shoes. I’m going to buy a really nice pair of cowboy boots. I’ve never had cowboy boots before.

Chapter 8: I Found A Group Of People I Can Actually Trust

Dear Diary,

I was in Pittsburgh today and I went to Mister Stock’s funeral.

I hadn’t seen him since I retired.

Mister Stock died of pancreatic cancer.

Mister Stock was my coach, but he was also my friend.

He had great taste in clothes. He always wore these snazzy, colorful sweaters.

He had an amazing memory. I remember one time he told me a story about playing against the Cowboys. I thought it was a story he made up just for me, but it turns out it was true.

I miss Mister Stock. I miss his great sense of humor and his stories.

As I sat at the funeral, I found myself thinking about the past. I thought about the times Mister Stock would yell at me for not studying my playbook. I thought about the times he would encourage me, telling me I was the best quarterback in the world.

Mister Stock has been gone for a few months now. But now I have a new coach. His name is Mister Steak. I met him at the funeral. He’s the one who invited me to the funeral. He was a friend of Mister Stock’s.

Mister Steak says I can trust him.

I’m going to try.

Chapter 9: My Deepest, Darkest Secret

Dear Diary,

I had a secret.

It’s the one thing I never told anyone. Not even Mister Stock. I couldn’t tell him. He would have been crushed.

My secret is that I loved the Dallas Cowboys.

I had always pretended to hate the Cowboys. I said that they were cheaters, that they were dirty. But I loved the Cowboys. I loved them like I loved nobody else in the world.

I loved their colors. I loved the star on their helmets.

I loved the Cowboys’ cheerleaders. They were the most beautiful cheerleaders in the world.

I loved all of the Cowboys’ players. I loved their coach, Tom Landry. I loved his hat. I loved his white bus. I loved his glasses. I loved everything about the Dallas Cowboys.

I even loved their quarterback, Roger Staubach. He was a great player. He was the best quarterback in the league.

I loved the way Roger Staubach played. He was a scrambling, running quarterback. He would run away from everybody.

I loved the way Roger Staubach dressed. He wore these cinnamon-colored pants. He wore a white turtleneck under his jersey.

I loved the way Roger Staubach talked. He had this deep, raspy voice.

I loved the way Roger Staubach always got the job done.

Mister Stock was a good coach, but I loved the Cowboys.

I’m not going to lie to you, Diary. I’m going to be honest with you.

I loved the Dallas Cowboys.

The End

Principal at Jetpack Consulting, a Design Strategy firm in San Francisco.