Bleier says of Steelers Nation, “I’m One Of Them”

War hero one of 5 entering Steelers Hall of Honor

Jeff Hathhorn
September 30, 2018 - 8:58 pm

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – There are many reasons for Steelers fans to love Rocky Bleier.  He was a four time champion, a war hero and stayed in the city after he retired.  On Sunday night, as he went into the Hall of Honor, Bleier offered this reason as to why he is appreciated in Pittsburgh.

“It’s like I’m one of them,” the 5’11”, 210 pound Bleier said.  “I grew up in a small Midwestern town, Appleton, Wisconsin.  It was a mill town, paper mill town not a steel mill.  My dad grew up in a bar on the corner, neighborhood shot and a beer, much like every bar that is in every city around Pittsburgh.  I grew up with guys coming in from the mill at 8 in the morning coming off the midnight shift and closing the bar late at night.”

“They are just regular down-to-earth, hard-nosed working stiffs and that’s what Pittsburgh was all about.  So I didn’t know anything any different, so you treat people the same as you had been treating them your whole life and you don’t think you are anything better than they are.”

The always modest Bleier, injured while serving his country in Vietnam, has been honored by no fewer than 11 veterans groups for his work.  The proceeds from the republish of his book, “Fighting Back”, benefit the Fighting Back For Veterans Campaign.

The 72 year-old Bleier was named a community hero by the United Way, Special Olympics, St. Barnabas Health, Boy Scouts of America and Habitat for Humanity.

“Maybe just because I worked hard, I played hard and it was the epitome of what this game was about and fans recognized or identified themselves with a guy that had no talent and was able to do it and stuck to it, ” Bleier said.

Bleier and four others are the Steelers second class in the team’s Hall of Honor.  It’s built as team President Art Rooney stated last year to “serve as a tribute to the many individuals who have contributed greatly throughout the history of our franchise.  It’s to recognize these individuals and their accomplishments, both on and off the field.”

Eight players in Steelers history have rushed for more yards, including Le’Veon Bell, but can you really put them in the same class as Bleier?  Three of those ahead of him are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but who has done more for the Pittsburgh Steelers or their image?

“It was more about my team allowing me to ride their coattails and to play on a team that will go down as one of the all-time greats,” Bleier said.  “To get recognized for that effort that you put in, really is awfully, awfully nice.”