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Rocky Bleier thought he made peace with what happened in a rice paddy in Vietnam on Aug. 20 Womens JuJu Smith-Schuster Jersey , 1969.What the former Pittsburgh Steelers running back didn’t have though was closure until a trip back there last year.Bleier’s visit to Vietnam — the first time he had been back since being injured in battle — is the subject of ESPN’s “The Return”, which debuts Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN2. A shorter version began airing Saturday on “SportsCenter” as part of its weekly SC Featured series.“It was a different catharsis than I anticipated,” Bleier said. “Unlike the average veteran who returned after service and had to repress those feelings, I came back to a high-profile industry and became a story. In some regards it was cathartic (during his playing days) that I had to talk about it.”Bleier’s story remains one of perseverance. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 16th round in 1968 only to be drafted into the U.S. Army during his rookie season. Three months after being deployed, Bleier was shot through his thigh and suffered a grenade blast where shrapnel severely damaged his right foot and both legs when his “Charlie Company” unit was ambushed during a recovery operation in the Hiep Duc Valley.Of the 33 soldiers in the infantry unit, 25 were injured and four killed.Doctors were able to save Bleier’s foot but told him he would never play football again. Not only did Bleier recover from his injuries, but he was an integral part of the Steelers’ four Super Bowl teams in the 1970s.He remains one of the most beloved players in franchise history. The feature opens with Bleier’s induction into their Ring of Honor last year.“It’s a tragedy, I wish the war had never happened,” Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris says during the film. “But if we change anything would the Old Man (Art Rooney) have put Rocky on the team and would Rocky have worked as hard as we had, and would we have four Super Bowls?”Bleier acknowledges that the trip happened at the right time since his war and NFL experiences are intertwined.Getting Bleier to return to Vietnam was one of ESPN producer Jon Fish’s dream projects and happened after nearly 10 years of discussions. ESPN green-lighted it in March 2017 and the trip happened last August with Bleier, Fish Womens T. J. Watt Jersey , reporter Tom Rinaldi and a camera crew flying into Da Nang, which is 35 miles from the Hiep Duc Valley.Bleier kept telling Fish and Rinaldi not to expect a lot of emotion before the trip, but all of that changed when he finally got to the area. After giving Bleier time to walk around and take everything in, Rinaldi caught up with him and asked what he was feeling.At that point, Bleier began to break down and weep.“All of a sudden I had an overwhelming feeling of loss and sadness,” he said. “Why did we fight this war? Why did we lose 58,000 soldiers and in all honesty for what? Maybe for first time I can understand on a slight basis the impact that our soldiers go through and maybe just a little what post-traumatic stress might be and how the body reacts to all the emotions.”Shortly after Bleier was overcome emotionally, he collapsed while walking through the area due to heatstroke and was taken to a clinic to be evaluated. He returned back to the rice paddy two days later.Fish — who has been producing features for 22 years — said he was surprised that cameras were still rolling when Bleier collapsed.“We were extremely calm and worried about his well being. When you do a TV shoot it is very involved and planned hour by hour but all of that went out the window,” Fish said. “Here we are worried about Rocky and he wanted to go back and finish.”The heat and humidity didn’t just affect Bleier. Fish said that two cameras had their motherboards completely fried due to the conditions.On their second trip to the rice paddy, Bleier met a Viet Cong soldier who became a scout for the U.S. Army during the war. The former soldier had seen the crew filming, approached Bleier and said “4th to the 31st. America Division. Chu Li. Company B. Number 220.”The soldier was a scout for Bravo Company JuJu Smith-Schuster Jersey White , which was ambushed in an earlier mission. It was Blier’s unit which was sent to retrieve the bodies of nine U.S. soldiers who were ambushed in an earlier mission.“Everyone we met was pro American. There is a whole generation that the war is for the history books and not an experience they were a part of. The viewpoint has changed,” Bleier said.There was plenty of time during filming where Bleier had time alone to reflect. Rinaldi said their hope was to let the moments develop while not being obtrusive.“It is no small request to ask someone to share their story and trust,” Rinaldi said. “We all have great respect for the physical strength and courage that Rocky has. For him to be willing to be that vulnerable is something we didn’t expect.”Bleier — who worked in television after he retired from the Steelers — has an appreciation for the process.“Their sense of detail, coming up with the end result and impact you are looking for, that takes a talent. For me it was interesting and intriguing,” Bleier said. “Tom is a wonderful writer in his own right and has this great charisma. Jon is creative. To keep this on track for 10 years you have to be a special person.“Out of this whole thing there is a relationship that has developed. It is so easy now to call them friends rather than acquaintances. Hopefully this film will help some veterans with some healing or closure possibilities. I hope that it is the case.” Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick knows what it’s like to think that victory is only a few seconds away, only to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers rally for another improbable win, and run off the field as thousands of their fans twirl towels in the stands.Many of Kirkpatrick’s teammates haven’t been on the sideline for those blow-to-the-gut finishes, which might work to the Bengals‘ advantage on Sunday as they revisit a rivalry that’s more of a horror story for Cincinnati.The Bengals (4-1) have their youngest team in coach Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons as they get ready to host the Steelers (2-2-1). Nineteen of them are in their first or second season — virtual newcomers to the one-sided series.“It’s kind of good that some of these guys haven’t experienced it because we’re trying to go in with clear minds, clear everything,” Kirkpatrick said. “Just going out there and playing our game and not (remembering) nothing that happened two or three years ago https://www.thesteelerslockerroom.com/authentic-juju-smith-schuster-jersey , or last year.”The Steelers know their history.Pittsburgh has won six straight in the series , including an 18-16 victory in the first round of the 2015 playoffs that included an historic meltdown by the Bengals. The Steelers have won nine of 10 and 14 of 17 against their AFC North rival, getting the better of games that have often turned nasty.“Yeah, you get amped up there,” Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree said. “It’s their house. They’re trying to be so tough.”Some of the main figures in the most memorable games are gone. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is back after sitting out the first four games on his latest NFL suspension, but cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones left after last season. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is holding out.“Many of the significant contributors don’t play for us (anymore), they don’t play for them,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.Some things to watch Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium:LOPSIDED HISTORYThe Steelers are 24-8 against the Bengals since they hired Marvin Lewis as coach in 2003. They’re 15-2 at Paul Brown Stadium during that span, including playoff wins in the 2005 and 2015 seasons. During their current six-game winning streak against Cincinnati, the Steelers have overcome deficits of 17-3 and 17-0. They have two last-minute wins.SHAZIER BACKSteelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury at Paul Brown Stadium last Dec. 4 when he lowered his helmet and tackled receiver Josh Malone. Shazier was taken to a local hospital. Ten months later, he’s still recovering and it’s unclear whether he can ever play again. Shazier is on the sideline during games and is expected to be in Cincinnati with his teammates on Sunday.BIG-PLAY BENGALSPittsburgh is known for its tenacious defense Womens James Conner Jersey , but the Bengals have made some of the biggest plays this season. They’ve returned three turnovers for touchdowns, including an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter of a 27-17 win over Miami on Sunday. The Bengals’ rotation on the line has kept them fresh for the endings of games.“Guys were really, really getting after it, and it was fun to watch,” coordinator Teryl Austin said. “It makes the game easy to call when you know the guys are going to push the pocket back and get after the quarterback and harass the quarterback.”ALIVE AND KICKINGA year after making the Pro Bowl for the first time, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell is struggling. He missed his third extra point of the season last week against Atlanta, matching his career high. It hasn’t been any easier for Boswell when it comes to field goals, where he is just 3 for 6. Still, Tomlin remains confident in Boswell, who signed a five-year contract before the season.Boswell has never missed a kick against the Bengals, making all 11 extra-point tries and all 20 field goal attempts T. J. Watt Jersey , including a pair of last-minute winners at Paul Brown Stadium.“ and I do not have amnesia in that regard,” Tomlin said. “He’s gotten me out of that stadium in Cincinnati a few times, and so I look forward to taking him to Cincinnati.”CAMPAIGNING FOR CONNERIt could be Pittsburgh’s final game without Bell, who reportedly will end his standoff and sign a one-year franchise tag next week. Bell’s return could create an issue on how to split carries. James Conner has been solid while filling in. The second-year back is coming off a 185-yard from scrimmage, two-touchdown performance against Atlanta. Ben Roethlisberger believes Conner has done little to earn a demotion.“I think James has done some amazing things and deserves to be on the football field,” Roethlisberger said. “We also know what Le’Veon is and what he brings to the table, so I guess we’ll cross that bridge if and when it happens.”___AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed to this report.___


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