Vietnam Veteran and Steeler great Rocky Bleier visits Northeast State

A person worthy of being called heroic embodies determination, discipline, teamwork, and sacrifices his or her wants and needs for the sake of others. Few personify that word better than Rocky Bleier.

Northeast State proudly welcomes the Pittsburgh Steelers legend and Vietnam Veteran to campus on Nov. 10 for a presentation about service and winning against impossible odds. Bleier’s presentation begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theater on the Blountville campus next to Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.

Rocky Bleier
Rocky Bleier

In a captivating presentation, Robert Patrick “Rocky” Bleier defines what it takes to succeed in times of change, conquer insurmountable odds, and become an extraordinary achiever. Through his story of courage and determination, he motivates audiences to reach for their goals, despite all obstacles.

A native of Appleton, Wis., Bleier starred at football in high school and earned a scholarship to the prestigious University of Notre Dame. When he graduated from college in 1968, he found himself selected in two drafts – one by the Steelers of the National Football League and one by the United States Army.

At the height of the Vietnam War, Bleier was thrust into combat and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, Bleier’s injuries were severe. Doctors told him his professional football career was over and he would likely never walk again.

Bleier on the gridiron.
Bleier on the gridiron.

Defeating all odds, Bleier spent two years rehabilitating his body and regained his running back position on the Steelers’ squad. He became a cornerstone of the team that would win four Super Bowls during the 1970s.

The hard lessons Bleier learned early in life that helped him overcome adversity and reach his goals have paid off after football. Some of those lessons are described in the popular book on his life, Fighting Back, and most recently a stage production called The Play with Rocky Bleier.

Bleier was the recipient of the 2015 Eagle Rare Life Heroism Award for his incredible drive and inspirational story. He remains active in numerous social and veteran’s causes including Operation Strong Vet, Warriors2Citizens, and Vietnam Veterans of America. He co-owns and serves as a managing member of RBVetCo, a service-disabled, veteran-owned company specializing in construction and value engineering.

For more information about this event, contact the Office of Veterans Affairs at 423.354.2528 or

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