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Rocky Bleier
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Football Player
    (March 5, 1946- )
    Born in Appleton, Wisconsin
    Birth name was Robert Bleier
    Fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1968,1971-80)
    He smoked throughout his NFL career.
    He admitted he almost quit in 1973 after only making the special teams squad.
    He owed $40,000 in back taxes and had to pawn his Super Bowl rings to pay off the debt (1996).
    He then filed for bankruptcy, which his ex-wife Aleta claimed was an attempt to avoid paying her share of the proceeds from the sale of their Pittsburgh home.
    He was drafted by the Steelers and the US Army at almost the same time.
    While on patrol in Vietnam, he was shot in the thigh, then an exploding grenade sent shrapnel into his right leg and foot (August 20, 1969).
    Doctors told him he would be lucky to walk again, much less play football.
    In addition to his injuries, he had to overcome the perception that he wasn't big enough or fast enough for the NFL.
    Before Christmas of 1972, he gave footballs to Joe Biden's two sons when they were in the hospital after a car crash.
    He said, 'Heroic action, I guess, is mostly illusion. Usually you're scared and you react... But I want to believe in the illusion, too.... And if I can be a symbol of something good for some people, even if I'm not exactly what they think I am, that's still okay.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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