Special thanks for ESPN for helping make this interview happen. A new film about Rocky, The Return, will air on August 20th, featuring Rocky’s story, and his return to Vietnam where he sustained his injuries 50 years ago. Rocky’s story - of going from the NFL to Vietnam, to being wounded in action, being told he will never again play football, and clawing his way back to the NFL to win 4 Super Bowls is absolutely inspiring.
Not falling within the ideal of what a running back should look like, Bleier had to run harder and play smarter to be able to stand out. Despite his drive and ability to make the big play, the Pittsburgh Steelers only considered him a late round pick. But before the season ended that first year, he was drafted again…this time by the United States Army. At the height of the Vietnam War, Bleier was thrust into combat early and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, he was barely able to walk and his professional football career seemed to have ended before it began…
For more than two years, he drove himself. Little by little he overcame obstacles and fought his way back. He not only made the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also eventually became a starting running back on a team that won four Super Bowls and became the greatest football team of the 20th century.
The hard lessons Rocky Bleier learned early in his life that helped him overcome adversity and reach his goals, have paid off after football. These lessons are seen between the lines in the popular book on his life, "Fighting Back" and on stages of speaking appearances around the country.