War hero, Super Bowl champ Rocky Bleier brings one-man play back to hometown of Appleton

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Rocky Bleier brings one-man play back to hometown, Sept. 10, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Opus 3 Artists)

APPLETON, Wis. (WLUK) -- A war hero, four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the subject of a recent ESPN documentary has returned home to the Fox Valley.

Appleton native Rocky Bleier was at his alma mater, Saint Francis Xavier High School Tuesday morning.

Bleier walked down the same halls he did in the 1960s at Xavier High. He was handed his street sign, re-dedicated in his honor, with not one of his four Super Bowl rings in sight.

“Here is not about Super Bowls,” the Appleton native said. “Here is about Appleton; here is about Xavier. It's about what had taken place here, it's not about showing off what has been accomplished in the past."

Bleier says the Appleton street bearing his name is nowhere near the same as how he remembers it.

Rocky Bleier Run may look a bit different now, but Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna says, once construction wraps up, and polished off with a brand-new street sign, it's going to look better than ever before.

On this trip back to his hometown, Bleier is doing more than getting back to his roots. This time around, he's bringing his one-man play called "The Play" from Pittsburgh to Appleton.

"Sometimes, it's tough to go back home, because people remember you growing up, you know, so what's the big thing about you, and this story and coming back? But I think it's relatively a universal story,” said Bleier.

Bleier stars in the play, and talks about change and overcoming obstacles using three different locations.

"Three different bars that take place,” he explained. “One is a home bar, and it's a reflective piece on the characters and the people that I had met growing up and, ultimately, getting me to Notre Dame."

Pittsburgh is the backdrop of the second bar. It's about Bleier's experience as a Steeler before being drafted to war in Vietnam -- a place he's also revisited recently, as shown in his emotional ESPN documentary.

"I became very emotional at that time,” Bleier said, recalling his trip to Vietnam. “I really hadn't talked about that feeling of why. Why were we there? Why did we lose 58,000 soldiers? For what?"

The play ends at Bleier's own bar, where he reflects on his entire life.

"In all honesty, things don't really happen for a reason,” he said. “Things happen, and it's how you react to that happening that gives you a reason to move forward, in one direction or another direction."

The play will be featured at Xavier High School, where Bleier graduated in 1964.

You have four chances to see it on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, with an afternoon show also scheduled for Saturday.