APPLETON (NBC 26) — Friday not only marks the Homecoming game for St. Francis Xavier High School, but also the return of a legend.. Rocky Bleier.. to his namesake field.
"When people think of Xavier athletics, Rocky Bleier is the first name that comes to mind for everybody," Xavier Vice President for Advancement Bob Biebel said. He said the hallways are buzzing as Rocky returns.
"Rocky symbolizes the standard of excellence of Xavier athletics," Xavier Athletic Director Luke Herriges said. "He's the premier original athlete here. He was a three sport athlete, high academics. He was a leader, both in the classroom and on the court, on the field... That's who we strive to be."
Bleier has a long list of achievements. He played football at Xavier High School, and went on to play at Notre Dame, where he then was drafted into the NFL to the Pittsburgh Steelers. After his rookie year, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam.
But tragedy struck, and Bleier injured both of his legs. Doctors told him he would never be able to play football again, but he proved them wrong, and went on to play for 10 more years with the Steelers and lead them to four more Super Bowls. Now he works to spread awareness for Veteran's organizations.
"Trying to help our men and women who served to have a better life," the NFL Hall of Fame player said.
Part of his return home this week is for the Rocky Bleier Golf Classic on Thursday, which benefits the Wisconsin Veteran's Village.
"I think the biggest thing from my point of view for veterans is, not only to talk to one another, but be able to talk to their families about good, bad, you know, different things," Bleier said.
To the Xavier seniors hitting the field on Friday, he offers this piece of advice.
"You look back and you say, 'I did everything I could, I played to my full potential with a great group of guys, win or lose,'" Bleier said.
And reminding us all what it means to get back up and persevere.
Bleier will be joining NBC 26 on Friday as a commentator for our Sports Showdown Game of the Week. Waupaca High School taking on Xavier. You can watch the game starting at 7 on TV32.