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A Tribute to the Toughest Steeler: Rocky Bleier

 
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Big7BenMVP


Joined: 23 Nov 2004
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Location: Camarillo, CA
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:24 am    Post subject: A Tribute to the Toughest Steeler: Rocky Bleier Reply with quote

In 1946, a baby was born in Appleton, Wisconsin. This baby would soon go on to be the toughest player the Pittsburgh Steelers had ever seen. In 1964, Rocky Bleier graduated from Xavier High School located in Appleton. In High School, Bleier was not only a star football player but also a star basketball player while he was there. However, his calling was in football where he was named a three-time All-State running back and also won All-Conference honors at both linebacker and defensive back. He then went on to play at the University of Notre Dame, a place that he graduated from with a degree in business management. A relative unknown going into the NFL Draft, Robert "Rocky" Bleier wasn't taken until the 16th round and 417th overall pick. After his rookie season, where he rushed for 39 yards on 6 carries, Bleier was drafted into the United States Army and was shipped off to go fight in the Vietnam War. This is where the man that is Rocky Bleier would be shaped.

On August 20th of 1969, Rocky Bleier's platoon was ambushed by the Vietcong. During the melee, Rocky was shot and wounded in his left leg which -- believe it or not -- was the least of his problems this day. While he was laying down, wounded, Rocky saw a grenade come flying through the air out of the corner of his eye. It hit his commander in the back and began to roll on the ground. Rocky, being the courageous man that he was, tried to dive onto the grenade. The grenade, thankfully, did not blast upwards but only outwards. If it had blasted upwards instead of outwards, Rocky Bleier might not be here today. Due to what he went through that day, Rocky Bleier was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. The shrapnel from the grenade went into his right leg, requiring surgery. As a tribute to the man that Rocky Bleier is, he asked the doctors if he could ever play football again. Their answer: no. They told him he would never be able to run again, let alone play football. But, that wouldn't stop Rocky Bleier from trying to prove them wrong.

Rocky Bleier returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1971, but was put on the injured reserve list due to the fact that he couldn't walk without being in pain. Because of his problems with his legs, his weight decreased to 180 pounds. The Steelers brought him back in 1972, fresh off of the injured reserve. He wasn't fully healed, and was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers going into that 1972 season. However, that would not detract the perseverant Wisconsan. He came back to the tryout for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1973, only to be waived again by Chuck Noll due to the fact that he wasn't up to full strength yet again. But, Rocky Bleier was not to be detracted from his goal of playing in the NFL. During the summer of 1974, Rocky Bleier went on a vicious training regimen that brought his weight up from 180 pounds to 212 pounds. He tried out for the Steelers one final time, only to make it into the starting lineup. His dream of playing in the NFL had come true.

When you think of Rocky Bleier, you think of a great blocker and a guy who would give it his all. He might have played second fiddle to Franco Harris, but he was always the first guy to worry about when it came to the Steelers due to the way that he played. In 1976, both Rocky Bleier and Franco Harris rushed for over 1000 yards which marked only the second time in NFL history -- to date -- that a pair of teammates rushed for over 1000 yards in the same season. Infact, Rocky Bleier -- at the time -- became just the fifth NFL player to rush for over 1000 yards after turning 30 years old. Rocky Bleier played in all four Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl victories in the 1970s. He even caught the touchdown pass that game Pittsburgh the lead it would never relinquish in Super Bowl XIII against the Dallas Cowboys. In 1980, Robert "Rocky" Bleier retired from the NFL. He spent his entire NFL career with just one team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There may have been larger and more powerful fullbacks to ever play professional football, but you can bet on one thing, no one has ever earned a spot on an NFL roster or secured his place in sports history the way that Rocky Bleier did in his career. Fans have always liked Rocky Bleier and identified with him for many reasons. They thought he was one of them.

Rocky Bleier, the toughest Pittsburgh Steeler that the team has ever known.



You truly are an inspiration to us all.
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JDLefebvre


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Big7BenMVP...

Rocky deserves more credit for the life he has lived...

I would like to hear Kellen Winslow II call himself a "soldier" (like he did at the University of Miami) to Rocky's face.

Laughing
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thanks El ramster

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Jayme96


Joined: 18 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice article. I wasn't aware that he tried to roll over onto a grenade, or that he got cut and was out a few years, but I knew he got shot and had shrapnel in his leg and wasn't expected to be able to play....I always liked him anyway, but after reading a previous article about him being injured you just gotta love the guy. Thanks for the article, a little more details than I knew before. Very Happy
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Neumatic


Joined: 13 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to bring this back up for the newer members here that may not know much about Rocky Bleier...Its a great artical written by Big7BenMVP
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footballfan123


Joined: 01 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very good stuff. Rocky actually had two different shoe sizes b/c he lost part of his foot in the blast (talk about tough). I read his autobiography a few years ago, "Fighting Back", and it is a great story from Notre Dame to Vietnam to the Steelers. I highly recommend it. Nice job bringing this up!
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JDLefebvre


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Needs to be put in the NFL Forum... esp. since they have a toughest player ever thread going around
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thanks El ramster

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oderint dum metuant
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SteelProven


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right now the Steelers need a Rocky Bleier type of player on the team. The Steelers have always been a complied of a group of blue collared players and Rocky Bleier was blue collar all the way. Great Post!!!
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JHinkle5355


Joined: 04 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post. It just pisses me off when great men like Rocky Bleier are relatively unknown by most casual NFL fans, while T.O., Pacman Jones, and Chris Henry are household names. The world would be a much better place if we had more Rocky Bleiers and less T.O.'s.
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spush


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great read, Rocky exudes what is Pittsburgh Steelers football today. But I think, if Im not mistaken, Franco was actually the FB.. Anyway, some interesting add ons, I saw a documentary on this where it said when he kept getting cut due to foot pain, Art Rooney actually went to him and told him that it probably wasnt going to work out with him and the team unless something changed. So they gave him an MRI, or whatever it was back then, and they actually found more shrapnel in his foot the military Dr's missed that was causing him the excess foot pain. After removing it is when he was able to get into shape and return.

They said he'd be at training camp limping through sprints and laboring in the weight room in intense pain. The guy was amazing...
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SteelSedition


Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Too young to see him play. My dad always says that Franco had far more skill and was far and away the better athlete, but that Rocky ran harder, and had way more heart--it would've been interesting to see how much further Rocky could've gone if he was the athlete Franco was with Franco's size.
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StillersFury


Joined: 01 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But no talk of Steroids?

Speed?

The two things the Rock admits got him into the NFL

The Rocky Bleier story should be told in 3 parts.

The 1st part which is told very nicely here...

And part 2...

Drug addiction, bad business deals, going broke, pawning super bowl rings

Read this book....Its a must

"When the Clock Runs Out: 20 NFL Greats Share Their Stories of Hardship and Triumph"

Part III

Rocky get his life straight and begins a speaking Tour at 12,500 dollars a pop

Andy Russell LC Greenwood or Dwight White would be the beacons of past Super Bowl teams
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Neumatic


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JDLefebvre wrote:
Needs to be put in the NFL Forum... esp. since they have a toughest player ever thread going around
thats what reminded me of this, already put it in the Toughest Player thread...and im not sure but I think Big7BenMVP posted it in the NFL Forum too...
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