Steeler legend Rocky Bleier addresses BAMS students


Natalie Dumin and Paige Padula sporting Rocky Bleier’s Super Bowl bling.

Langston Anderson, Jr. Reporter

It was that time of the school year again: Another assembly with another athlete who was face to face with the destruction of their dreams and goals but instead of giving up had risen up and taken the high road.

On October 24, that athlete was one Rocky Bleier, Steeler teammate and former soldier of the Vietnam War. This was part of a chain of presentations set out by the Bellwood-Antis Middle School Leadership Team, who plan a meeting with an athlete who had been handicapped in a way of which things looked bleak.

So, just who exactly is Rocky Bleier? What was this presentation even for? How did he get into this position to present to the students of Bellwood-Antis?

To start off, we should look at Rocky Bleier himself. Bleier, from the earliest years of his childhood, always had one love: football. He would always play against his 5-year-old neighbor, who was named Dicki. From these games, Bleier always had a keen relationship with football that he shared with this neighbor.

A few years later, Bleier had graduated from Xavier High School, which was located in Appleton, Wisconsin. Not only did he play football in high school, but he also played basketball. After high school, he graduated from Notre Dame in 1968, receiving a business management degree. He was also part of the Notre Dame’s 1966 National Championship team as captain of the squad.

In 1968, Bleier began his National Football League career as a rookie. However, he was drafted to the U.S. Army in May of 1969 and went to defend his country in Vietnam.

While in the U.S. Army, everything looked to change. As he was in the brink of a heated battle, a shot, hitting his thigh. To top it all off, a lone grenade seemed to replay slowly in Bleier’s head. Right as he got up from his position to run, the grenade exploded, severely damaging his leg, with shrapnel running though the limb. It seemed as though Rocky Bleier, the rookie Steeler member with fame in his fortune, would never be able to play football again. Everyone seemed to believe this.

Everyone, save, for Rocky Bleier, the rookie Steeler who wasn’t going to give up the dreams and goals he had to achieve. He had gone through harsh rehabilitation, constantly training his leg to heal. He would go out on tracks and train his legs. He was determined to get up and get running so he could return to his love and passion: football.

Even the Pittsburgh Steelers sent him a card saying, “Get Well Soon. We need you.” His team needed him, and he would soon deliver, as all this hard-work, determination, and constant tear shed had lead him to be recuperated and ready for his dominant return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, because they needed him. He went on to win four Super Bowl rings. Four Super Bowl rings showing how much he wanted this to happen.

This is what he had said on October 24th, 2014, when he had welcomed the students of Bellwood Antis Middle School with his heart-wrenching story and his overall struggles. This was a presentation organized by the Leadership Team, with Mrs. Nycum and Mr. Schreier as the team superiors, and the Quarterbacks for Life Foundation, designed to help students with the understandings of success and how to achieve it by bringing to life and applying what is learned in the classroom to reality.

Rocco Scalzi, founder of the Beating the Odds Foundation, had designed a creative and subtly effective way of helping kids with these understandings by worming these life lessons into teachers’ daily lesson plans. The BTO foundation also set out to create the Stepping Stones to Success, which is the reason these athletes come to different schools to tell of their life travesties, and how they overcame them. Students learn things such as skills for creating a sturdy mental structure, honing teamwork, and organizing plans for achieving success.

The programs have a philosophy that students learn to make caring choices and shape the lives for them and others by examining their choices through three filters: Right, Responsibility, and Reality. If the choice goes through these three filters, a helpful choice, a choice where evidence points to it, and how other caring people approve this choice, then it is a caring choice.

Truly, we could all learn from Rocky Bleier, as his story of achieving success, even when things can get a little rocky, has taught the students of Bellwood Antis Middle School another valuable lesson on the BTO’s Stepping Stones to Success.