Football and America Exhibit Opens at Hall of Fame

06/30/2003

Football and America Exhibit Opens at Hall of Fame
Rocky Bleier Cuts Ribbon

Mar. 27, 2002 - Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier helped the Hall of Fame open its newest exhibit on Wednesday afternoon. Bleier addressed a lunch crowd of approximately 80 guests and members of the media in the Hall's NFL Films Theater before performing the ceremonial ribbon cutting to the exhibit.

Rocky Bleier addresses audience at the Hall of Fame on Wednesday afternoon.

"My father told me, 'One day you'll be in the Hall of Fame.' I didn't think it would be this way," joked Bleier during his opening remarks.

He continued on a more serious note by reflecting on the parallels between football and war. "Miltary service is like football, just basic fundamentals," he stated in reference to principles such as passion, commitment, and honor.

The original idea of the Football and America Exhibit was introduced by New Orleans Saints' owner Tom Benson. He approached the National Football League about the possibility of tying a salute to World War II veterans into the Super Bowl XXXVI celebration in New Orleans. Jim Steeg, the NFL's senior vice president of special events, contacted the Hall of Fame in early fall about creating such an exhibit. In just three months, the exhibit was completed and debuted at the NFL's Super Bowl Experience. After three days at the NFL Experience, the exhibit was moved to the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, and finally onto the Hall of Fame in Canton.

Bleier poses next to display that honors his service in Vietnam.

"What this display does," reflected Bleier, "is help us not forget about those who committed during a time of need."

He then described the word "hero," an often used term in both football and war. "Hero is defined as someone who does what needs to be done when it is needed to be done without thinking about the consequences," commented Bleier. "That is the underlying tribute today. Heroes did what needed to be done despite the consequences."

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