The former University of Notre Dame running back will attend the series of games between high school teams from the United States on August 28, 2020, and perform the ceremonial coin toss before the regular season contests in the nation’s capital. He will also welcome all participants at the August 27 Pep Rally in City Center Dublin, following the Dublin parade honoring all the school teams and at the Tailgate Awards Luncheon.
Bleier won a coveted college football national championship with the Irish in 1966, served as team captain in 1967 and was then drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He won four Super Bowl titles as a member of one of the NFL’s most legendary teams, during a professional career from 1968 to 1980.
“I have come to learn there are three things you can never get back in life: Time, Words, and Opportunities,” said Bleier. “As Honorary Chairman, Words can’t express what a privilege it is to preside over hundreds of student-athletes, their coaches and supporters, from visionary schools, who are providing the Opportunity of a lifetime to these young people. This will be a very special Time in Ireland as we broaden the horizons of students traveling globally, while showcasing all that is great about our sport on various levels. I look forward to meeting and sharing my personal story with those who head to Ireland with us, and of course to watching some great football.”
After his rookie season with the Steelers, Bleier was drafted into the U.S. Army. Following a tour in Vietnam, during which he suffered injuries that were expected to end his football career, he was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Steelers owner Art Rooney fully supported his lengthy rehabilitation and “Rock” returned to record 3,865 rushing yards, 136 receptions for 1,294 yards, and 25 touchdowns, including a scoring catch in Super Bowl XIII.
“Rocky has long been one of my heroes and friends, with a notable life story we are eager to help share on a global basis,” comments Global Football President Patrick Steenberge. “I am thrilled that he will join the hundreds of student-athletes we will bring to Ireland next August, providing a powerful message for them. Bleier was instrumental in having Ambassador Dan Rooney assist us in the 2012 Ireland event and will be a huge addition to the Dublin High School Football Showcase.”
Bleier’s incredible story is told in his autobiographical book Fighting Back, which relives his life story, from his youth in Wisconsin, to Notre Dame, to Vietnam and then his lengthy recovery from being injured in battle. Ultimately he played at the highest level in the NFL, and now is a highly-sought motivational speaker. Book proceeds are donated to veterans’ charities with whom Bleier works.
Previous Dublin High School Football Showcase events organized by Global Football have been endorsed by dignitaries and standouts from the world of sport, including the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, Penn State and NFL tight end Kyle Brady, and Notre Dame and Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Mike McCoy.
High schools that have committed to the event, which is played in association with the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, will be announced during the coming months, along with the event venues. Limited spots remain for schools to commit to this adventure of a lifetime.