There are people that you just must respect. Not a lot of them, but some. One of them is Rocky Bleier, who won four Super Bowls with Pittsburgh as a fierce blocker/running back even though he didn’t have size, great speed or special skills that stood out.

What he did have was a tenacity that was unmatched.  A 16th-round draft pick in 1968 by Pittsburgh from Notre Dame, the five-foot-ten Bleier played 11 years and 142 games for the Steelers, rushing for a collective 3865 yards and 23 touchdowns and earning a spot in the Steelers’ Hall of Fame.

The Vietnam War cost Bleier the 1969-70 seasons and a purple heart for being shot in the thigh and suffering a grenade injury to his right leg. ESPN did a great story recently on Bleier that details all of this and his experience on a return to Vietnam this year on the 50th anniversary of his participation in the war.

There are good people in all walks of life, but it’s especially important now in the political divisive environment we are living in to focus on the goodness we see in others.  Bleier is one of those.



I was stunned by the August 14 death of Jim Stelson, teacher and coach at East Bremerton High School. It had been years since I had seen Stelson when about a year ago I ran into him at the Kitsap Family YMCA weight room. When he finally recognized me, he became his ol’ sarcastic self, telling me, “You are a (Chuck) Semancik lover.”

Semancik, of course, was the Hall of Fame coach at Bremerton and West Bremerton High Schools that dominated its city rivalry with East over the years. Stelson helped coach East football and was also the head East wrestling coach.

Stelson was well-loved as a teacher/coach at East and despite his sarcasm toward me I liked him. Some months ago I talked to him about another story I was doing and he was very accommodating. I had no hint he was sick.

Jim was 86, which also stunned me. I thought he was a lot younger. But I guess that is the way life is. The years go by pretty quickly and a lot of the people I knew in local sports are now gone. Jim is just the latest.

Rest in peace Jim and I’ll see you down the road.