In ‘The Play’ Rocky Bleier is the Featured Back; Roger Humphries Plays Backstage Bar (Tues., 12/20/16)

Behold the Rock, comin' at you on stage.

Behold the Rock, comin’ at you on stage.

1) Of the many outstanding football players in Pittsburgh Steelers history, none has accomplished what Robert “Rocky” Bleier did. A running back from Notre Dame, Bleier was drafted almost as an afterthought (in the 16th round) by the Steelers in 1968, then soon was drafted again, by the U.S. Army. He won medals for combat service in Vietnam, though, unfortunately, one was a Purple Heart. Bullets and shrapnel tore severe wounds in both of Bleier’s legs. Just walking became a struggle; doctors told him that playing ball again was unthinkable. Yet Bleier kept working at it … miraculously regaining a spot on the Steelers roster in 1971 … and wound up starting in the backfield with Franco Harris through the team’s run of four Super Bowl titles that decade.

Sportswriter Gene Collier, who co-authored The Chief, about Steelers founder Art Rooney, has made Bleier’s story into a one-man play called simply The Play. Bleier himself performs in it, drawing on the stage presence he’s gained from his post-football career as a public speaker. 7 p.m. Performances through January 7. Pittsburgh Public Theater, The O’Reilly Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (MV)

2) If you’ve heard Horace Silver’s immortal bossa nova standard, “Song for My Father,” then you’ve heard Roger Humphries. The brilliant percussionist has played virtually every major venue in the United States with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Ray Charles to Pittsburgh natives Nathan Davis and Pete Henderson. An accomplished solo artist in his own right and the leader of RH Factor and Roger Humphries’ Big Band, Humphries has also left a lasting legacy in Pittsburgh as an educator, having taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and elsewhere. Catch the legendary drummer during a free public performance at the Backstage Bar at Theater Square at 5 p.m. 655 Penn Ave., Cultural Trust. (EC)

3) The Pens are playing a home game at PPG Paints Arena tonight against the New York Rangers. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Then Thursday is an away game against the Columbus Blue Jackets before the Penguins return home for a Friday game against the New Jersey Devils.  The Pens are currently in first place, a half a game ahead of the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference. Let’s go Pens! 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.

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Rick Handler

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