No Steeler past or present personifies courage, determination, desire, heart and defying great odds more than former Steeler running back Rocky Bleier. Drafted out of Notre Dame in 1968, Bleier was a 16th round draft pick. Bleier already a long shot to make the Steelers also was drafted into the US Army in 1968.
By 1969 Rocky Bleier found his football dreams put on hold while he was a soldier in the Vietnam war. On August 20th 1969 in the Vietnam jungles Bleier’s football dreams and life almost came to a tragic end. Bleier was hit in the leg by a bullet while engaged in a battle with the enemy. Bleier while realizing he had been hit by the bullet then had a grenade explode at his feet. His right foot, knee, and thigh was badly damaged by the explosion tearing muscles and tendons.
After spending weeks in a Tokyo hospital, doctors told Bleier he would be lucky if he could ever walk normally again. Rocky was deemed 40% disabled. It seemed as though Bleier’s football career had come to an end. Rocky Bleier would return home and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, but he refused to give up his dream of playing football even though the odds were stacked against him.
Rocky Bleier spent the 1970 season on the Pittsburgh Steelers injured reserve list. Bleier needed a walking cane just to walk and get around but he never gave up.It took two years of intense rehab, training and great determination but Bleier made the Steelers active roster in 1972 . Bleier did not stop there, he worked his way into the starting backfield in 1974. In 1975, he ran for an incredible 163 yards against the Green Bay Packers.
In 1976, Rocky Bleier & Franco Harris became only the second pair of running backs from the same team to gain 1000 yards in the same season. In 1977 Bleier made a great catch scoring the “go-ahead” touchdown in Super Bowl XIII . By 1980 Rocky Bleier retired a Four-time Super Bowl Champion (IX; X; XIII; XIV) and finished his career as one of the great Pittsburgh Steelers from the 70′s dynasty team.
Rocky Bleier and his story is a lesson in perseverance, determination, courage and pure heart. Bleier never gave up and proved anything is possible through hard work and an unstoppable belief in yourself.
Rocky Bleier is proof of the American Dream and that with hard work and determination the possibilities are endless in this great country of ours. More importantly, Rocky Belier is an American Hero
If you would like to learn more about Rocky Bleier read his popular book on his life, “Fighting Back,” or watch the ABC-TV movie of the week by the same name based on the book. You can also check out http://www.rockybleier.com
Steeler Nation please remember and give thanks today and everyday to the great men and women that have fought for this great country and continue to defend our rights every day.
Remember freedom is not free.Many have died and shed their blood so that we can have the rights to pursue the American dream… Thank you for all you do and have done for our freedom.
Happy Fourth of July and God Bless America from us at Steelers N Stuff.