A four-time Super Bowl champion and Vietnam vet who lost part of his right foot after suffering a combat injury is the latest — and perhaps most unequivocally qualified — figure to chime in on what has become a national predicament, according to a story by Yahoo Sports.
Rocky Bleier, 71, played parts of 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a career that was interrupted following his rookie season when he was drafted into the Army in 1968.
For his actions in combat, Bleier was awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Despite his wounds, he managed to carve out 10 more seasons in the NFL, a span that included four championships.
Now, amid the rapidly expanding societal chasm emanating from player protests that have continually drawn the ire of President Donald Trump, Bleier believes there is a simple fix.
“The American people, they can’t go to their workplace and start to protest about whatever may be happening in their life,” Bleier said. “That wouldn’t be allowed and that shouldn’t be allowed in the NFL.
“It’s not a violation of the First Amendment at all. You have off days, you can do it outside of the stadium or on other platforms, but not the gameday platform.
This sentiment is a familiar one, shared by scores of fans and owners alike, but Bleier didn’t stop there. He admonished NFL ownership for their lack of initiative and leadership in the months after Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest inequality and police brutality.
“It was a year ago that Kaepernick took a knee, so if you’re the commissioner or an owner, you have to be proactive ... Somewhere along the line I have not seen the leadership maybe I expected from the commissioner and the owners in this situation.
“You can’t allow it to continue to drag on,” Bleier continued. “Otherwise, it will be like an open sore that heals and if you peel off the scab again and it will continuously be there.”
Bleier joins a growing list of current or former athletes, including Pittsburgh Steeler and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who have contributed to the ongoing dialogue.