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4 Time Superbowl Winner In Missoula

Rocky signing autographs for Sandy & Al (Photo courtesy Mike Williams Photography)

4 time Superbowl winner Rocky Bleier was in town this past weekend appearing on behalf of Special Olympics. It was fund raising event. It recognized the achievements of Special Olympians in our area. Rocky was once of the nicest guys I’ve had the opportunity to meet. He even took the time during his busy day to call a fan here in Missoula at Eagle Manor. Alice McGraw is a Major Steeler Fan. His speech for evening was from the heart, from experience, he lives that way everyday.

He graduated from University of Notre Dame in 1968 with a degree in business management, in addition to starring in football. He was a member of their 1966 National Championship team, captain of the 1967 squad.  Bleier was drafted into the U.S. Army in December 1968. He volunteered for duty in the Vietnam War and shipped out in May 1969, serving with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. On August 20, while on patrol in Heip Duc, Bleier was wounded in the left thigh by a rifle bullet when his platoon was ambushed in a rice paddy. While down, an enemy grenade landed nearby after bouncing off a fellow soldier, sending shrapnel into his lower right leg. He was later awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. His rank was Specialist 4. While he was recovering in a hospital in Tokyo, doctors told him that he would not play football again. Soon after, he received a postcard from Steelers owner Art Rooney which just read “Rock – the team’s not doing well. We need you. Art Rooney”.(Owner of the Steelers)

One year after being wounded, Bleier reported to Steelers training camp. Upon his return, he couldn’t walk without being in pain, and weighed only 180 pounds (82 kg). He spent two full years trying to regain a spot on the active roster, and was even waived on two occasions. But Bleier never gave up, and said that he worked hard so that “some time in the future you didn’t have to ask yourself ‘what if?’”. An offseason training regimen brought Bleier back to 212 pounds in the summer of 1974. From that point in time, he would be in the Steelers’ starting lineup. Bleier played in the first four Steeler Super Bowl victories, and caught the touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw that gave Pittsburgh a lead it would never surrender in Super Bowl XIII. Bleier retired after the 1980 season with 3,865 rushing yards, 136 receptions for 1,294 yards, and 25 touchdowns. At the time of his retirement, he was the Steelers fourth all-time leading rusher.

To get the whole story read “Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story”.

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