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Archive for October, 2010

“Heroes Field” by Andrew Vernon

“Successful people are just ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. What fuels your vision is your attitude. Be the best that you can be.”

~ Rocky Bleier ~

Rocky Bleier

The story of Rocky Bleier is one of the most inspiring in the history of sports and it holds a special place in the hearts of Pittsburgh Steelers fans. It is the story of how one man defied all odds with the weight of the world on his shoulders to become an inspiration to many. Rocky Bleier was a leader and an American hero on the battlefield in the rice paddies of Vietnam. Despite wounds in both of his legs, he overcame unparalleled odds in leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Superbowl championships. Now, a new mission is at hand with a committed following from Steelers Nation to get Rocky Bleier into the NFL Hall of Fame where he righteously belongs with his brothers in arms.

Rocky Bleier was born March 5, 1946 in Appleton, Wisconsin. He was a former NFL halfback with the Pittsburgh Steelers having been selected in the 16th round of the 1968 draft. Bleier graduated from Xavier High School in 1964 where he starred in football and basketball. He was a three time all-state running back for his high school. Rocky went on to play football at the University of Notre Dame where he graduated from in 1968 with a degree in business management. He was a member of the 1966 national team and served as captain of the ’67 squad.

Rocky Bleier, University of Notre Dame

Play Like A Champion Today

Rocky Bleier:Football Star & Vietnam Veteran

Rocky Bleier was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 16th round of the ’68 draft. As fate would have it, he was then drafted by the United States Army that year. Rocky volunteered for duty during the Vietnam War and was shipped in May, 1969 with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. On August 20th while on patrol in Heip Duc he was wounded in the left thigh from a rifle bullet when his unit was ambushed in a rice paddy. While hunkered down from enemy fire, a grenade landed nearby sending shrapnel into his lower right leg. Rocky was awarded both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his sacrifice and courage in battle.  While recovering in a Tokyo hospital doctors were convinced that he would never play football again but nothing would not stop him. Then one day, he received a postcard from ‘The Chief’ Art Rooney and in it the postcard read, “Rock-the team’s not doing well. We need you”. – Art Rooney. One year upon being wounded, Bleier reported to Steelers training camp and spent the next two years trying to gain an active spot on the roster, even though he was waived twice, he never gave up.

“Reflections” by Lee Teter

Rocky Bleier, Pittsburgh Steelers

Rocky continued to work in the off-season with intense training regimens to get the strength back into his legs and was brought to the starting lineup in 1974.  For the next six seasons he would hold that position and in that time, the Pittsburgh Steelers amassed four Super  Bowl victories. Bleier who originally wore #26 upon being drafted switched to #20 as that jersey number was already taken. He was the second of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushing weapons behind Franco Harris and was considered a great lead blocker. Both he and Franco Harris accumulated 1,000 yard rushing seasons in the ’76 season and became only the second NFL team to accomplish that feat. Bleier played in all four Steelers Super Bowl victories.  He retired in 1980 with 3,865 rushing yards, 136 receptions and 25 TD’s. Here is a video of Rocky in Super Bowl XIII against the Dallas Cowboys.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Super Bowl XIII – Rocky Bleier Touchdown

“For Old Times Sake”…Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw & Rocky Bleier

The Rocky Bleier Foundation

The Rocky Bleier Foundation

Since his retirement in 1980, Rocky has written a book titled “Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story” which was made into a television movie starring Robert Urich, Richard Herd and Art Carney. Rocky also tours the nation as a motivational speaker inspiring those across the country to “be the best that you can be” and to “never give up”. Bleier resides in a suburb of Pittsburgh with his family. In 2007, Xavier High School retired his #23 football jersey and renamed their football field in his honor.

Rocky Bleier Field, Xavier High School

Now there is a new mission at hand being led by a group of Facebook followers and fans of Steeler Nation. They are leading a campaign to get Rocky Bleier into the NFL Football Hall of Fame where he has earned that distinct honor. In life, we need heroes to look up to who lead by example and contribute to society to make each of us shine in our own individual talents.

NFL Hall of Fame

Story by – Charles R. Ott, Jr.

Click the link below to the Steelers Art section of my fine art website to purchase this limited edition print of NFL legend and Vietnam veteran, Rocky Bleier.

Steel City Artist Illustrations

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America! America!

God shed His grace on thee

And crowned thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea

Katherine Lee Bates

One hundred years ago today the poem, “America the Beautiful” was first published and the words to this treasured American patriotic hymn have come to symbolize everything that America stands for. The lyrics to the poem were written by Katherine Lee Bates while on a train ride through the mountains of Colorado. The song was composed by Samuel A. Ward using his hymn “Materna” (1882). The original words were written in a poem titled “Pikes Peak” but were changed to “America” for publication in The Congregationalist.

“America the Beautiful” Monument near Pikes Peak

Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor

Moraine Lake, Rocky Mountains

St. Louis Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

“America the Beautiful”

Ray Charles

God Bless the United States of America!

Steel City Artist Illustrations

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Steel Mill, Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania earned international fame as the Steel City and for generations the steel produced here created many of America’s buildings, bridges, memorials & monuments. Steel mills and factories lined the railways and river ways of communities throughout the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania. The steelworkers soon garnered a reputation for being tough as nails with a solid blue-collar work ethic they adopted from their immigrant parents from countries around the world. The daily life of a steelworker involved the constant banging thunderous explosions of steel on steel, fumigating smoke & dust, overhead cranes & chains, searing temperatures from molten steel & pulverizing flames & flashes that could blind a man. The city became a melting pot of people from all over the world seeking the freedoms denied in their homeland. The mills provided them the  opportunity to make a better life for their families and that golden American dream.

Steamfitter, Pittsburgh, PA

A few nights ago, I decided to create a new page on Facebook honoring the veterans of World War II & the steelworkers of Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. These were the men & women of my grandparents generation who have been called the ‘Greatest Generation’. They were a rare breed of Americans and our nation and the world will never see a generation quite like it ever again. They were entrenched in the very values of putting 100 percent into each work day and their patriotism was unwavering. It was because of all these basic principles and core values that the United States came together as one for the betterment of the country during World War II. I created the page as a living memorial-time capsule to chronicle their photos and personal stories into a growing history project. Future generations in Pittsburgh and around the world must come to appreciate the personal sacrifices they made in their lives so that our nation could continue to experience that golden American dream.

Click the link below to the Facebook page which I created honoring the Steelworkers & World War II Veterans of the “Greatest Generation” in Pittsburgh.

Western Pennsylvania World War II Veterans & Steelworkers

Tuskegee Airmen WWII Fighting Squadron

Tuskegee Airmen from Pittsburgh, PA pose for a photograph.

Ladle of Steel, Pittsburgh, PA

Steel Mill, Pittsburgh, PA

Steel City Artist Illustrations

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