Rocky Belier is a Steeler Nation favourite son and that popularity extends across to the UK and Australia. We cherish the player and hold him dear to our hearts.
Do we cherish the player because he beat the odds? After suffering a bad injury to his right foot from a Viet Cong grenade he was told that that he wouldn’t be able to play football again.
Not only did he play football after he recovered from his injuries, but he won four Super Bowls with our beloved Steelers. The word “legend” is overused, but in Rocky we have a living legend that Steeler Nation respect and love.
As the seventies are a few years behind us now, I did wonder what the younger Steeler fan felt about Rocky, so I asked SteelerNationUK member Greg Forbes what he felt about Rocky. “I think he’s a great ambassador for the Steelers and a terrific man!” was young Greg’s reply.
I certainly can’t argue with that. When on a Pittsburgh trip in 2010, I attended a dinner the Steelers were hosting at Heinz Field on behalf of the 40 For 40 funds. It was to raise money to build a memorial to Flight 93 that crashed outside Pittsburgh on 9/11.
Knowing that Rocky was one of the guests, I messaged him to see if we could meet at the dinner. I didn’t receive a reply so thought that was that. At the dinner we did indeed meet up and the next day I received a reply from my original message saying he was glad I got to meet him. That was classy as he’s didn’t have to respond.
Last year I met my friend Scott from Australia in Pittsburgh for the Patriots game. SteelerNationUnite were holding a rally Saturday night at the Tequila Cowboy. We went along because Scott was keen to see Rocky. We didn’t realise he was meant to be a guest at the bar next door, not where we were.
When we spotted him on his way to the other bar, Scott made sure that he met him and despite it being advertised as a non-autograph event, Rocky was only too happy to accommodate Scott’s request. Again, a classy act.
ROCKY BACK IN VIETNAM
Last year, Rocky returned to Vietnam for the first time since he was injured there. ESPN recorded the visit and will broadcast it on August 20.