Steelers Spotlight: Rocky Bleier
The Steelers have produced great players and teams. One of the most legendary players to come from the team has been Rocky Bleier. His story is one of the most interesting to come out of the NFL. Not only was he a successful football player, but he is also a Vietnam veteran. Bleier helped the Steelers earn four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s, but he is known for so much more.
Bleier’s story begins in 1946, when he was born in Appleton, Wisconsin. He was raised above his family’s bar and quickly realized he did not want to live there for the rest of his life. Bleier became a three-time All-State pick for football in high school, and eventually player on Notre Dame’s National Championship team in 1966. He was then drafted by the Steelers in 1968, but did not make much of an impact on the team. That same year, Bleier was drafted by the U.S. Army. While fighting in Vietnam, both of Bleier’s legs were injured due to a grenade in battle. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star and sent home.
The injuries Bleier sustained to his legs made walking very painful. He was placed on the Steelers’ injured reserve for two years while training intensely in hopes to regain his spot on the active roster. In 1972, Bleier achieved that goal and fought his way to the starting lineup. His statistics weren’t great, and he almost quit playing. A fellow teammate, however, convinced him to not give up. The next season, Bleier’s attitude and numbers were up and the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl IX.
After this championship win, Bleier started receiving national recognition for his comeback story. Sports Illustrated had Bleier on their cover in June of 1975 and he became an inspiration to people across the U.S. Later that year, Bleier had one of the best games of his life when he rushed for 163 yards. He would lead his team to three more Super Bowl championships. When Bleier retired in 1980 at the age of 34, he had a total of 3,865 rushing yards, 136 receptions for 1,294 yards, and 25 touchdowns.
After his retirement, Bleier wrote a book called Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story, which was later made into a TV movie. He toured the U.S. as a motivational speaker for high school students, returned to Vietnam to honor the 50-year anniversary of his tour, and now stars in “A Few Good Men” the play. Bleier has kept busy since his football career came to a close, but he will always be known as one of the most legendary Steelers players.
Check out Rocky Bleier signed memorabilia here: