Early years and college
Bleier graduated from Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he played several sports, including football. He then went on to Notre Dame University, where he earned a degree in business management, a skill that would help him after his football career ended.
Bleier was drafted in the 16th round of the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1968. That very same year, he was drafted into the United States Army to serve in the Vietnam War. His platoon was ambushed, and he received grenade fragments and rifle fire in his legs. He served in the Army from 1968 through August 1969, when he was wounded. Rocky was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. It was doubtful he would regain full use of his legs again, and his professional football career was in jeopardy.
After his injuries, he was placed on injured reserve (IR) by the Steelers in 1970. In 1971 he managed to make the Steelers practice squad. By 1972, he fought back from his injuries and made the team. By 1974 he earned a starting spot in the Steelers backfield, alongside Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris. In 1976, Bleier and Harris became one of the few running back tandems to each have 1,000 yard rushing in the same season. Rocky was a member of the team for the first four Super Bowl wins in Steelers history. He retired at the end of the 1980 season.
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Bleier became president of Rocky Bleier, Inc. In 1980. His company is based around his ability for motivational speaking, and boasts such clients as the United States Army, Nike, Ford, and Merrill Lynch.
- Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story by Rocky Bleier