Steelers Greatest Underdog: Rocky Bleier


The offseason promotes reminiscing about great players from Steelers history and Rocky Bleier stands out as the greatest underdog from the 1970s era.

The Friday morning Still Curtain Morning Huddle noted that Todd Haley commented in a recent interview that he can seem promise in Dri Archer and that perhaps some patience is required.

Archer’s size at 5’8″ and 173, according to, certainly has generated a lot of discussion.  No one can deny that if he can make a break, he’s got some speed.  He just has to get through a line of people with a lot more weight and size.

While it is impossible to compare Archer and Bleier, the discussion of patience and Haley’s thought that Archer could blossom, made me think back to one of my all-time-favorite running backs:  Rocky Bleier.

I grew up in the 1970s and loved to watch Bleier get the ball during games.  He seemed to be the “little guy” on the field, the underdog that people doubted at first.  I could identify with that.

He wasn’t specifically undersized, as his official height and weight for his playing days are 5’11” and 210 pounds, but it was his perseverance through a war-injury recovery that compels me to rate him the greatest Steeler Underdog.

Bleier’s story is well-documented through his book Fighting Back as well as numerous blogs and newspaper articles.  If you want a condensed version, one of the best I’ve read is here.

I admire people who find a way to reach their dream even when the odds are against him.  I love that Art Rooney Sr, practiced patience as well as providing a helping hand to Bleier.  Most people don’t want a handout, but they can use some help.

I love that Bleier did not let the operations and rehab that resulted in him having one leg shorter than the other and one foot a half-size smaller be a reason to stop trying.  He made it work for him. He triumphed.  He excelled. How can you not root for that?

According to Pro Football Reference, 1976  was Bleier’s best year for stats. He had 220 rushing attempts for 1036 yards and 5 TDs over 14 regular season games.  He was second behind Franco Harris that year.  It wasn’t a Super Bowl year for the Steelers who won their division, but lost the Conference to the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders took it all that season.

I’m not saying I don’t have other favorites, like Jerome Bettis.  I am super-psyched he finally got to Canton this year.  But, for me, I love what Bleier is about personally and professionally.  I like what he has done after football too.

Be sure to check out his latest endeavor paired with “The Bus,” Jerome Bettis with the United Way to give Veterans in need bus passes.  The campaign ends on March 22nd.

What do you think Steeler Nation?  Who do you rate at the greatest running back? Can you pick just one?

Next: Rooney On Replay, Bracketology, No Troy Update

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