Thursday, September 25, 2008

Biden chokes up over dubious story; Rocky Bleier; Art Rooney

Near Pittsburgh today, Joe Biden told the story of how Rocky Bleier delivered footballs to his children after the family's tragic car crash in December 1972:
After the December 1972 crash, Biden had been keeping vigil in the hospital for his sons, but left to buy them a Christmas tree a couple days before Christmas.

"I came back and they, they looked like they had lighted up like Christmas trees. My one little boy was in traction and the other little boy had a seriously fractured skull and they were happy, and they each had separately, they had footballs in their beds," he said.

Biden paused for about 10 seconds in the Greensburg Salem High School gym to compose himself and the crowd applauded.

"I said, 'Guys, where'd you get the ball?' and they said 'Daddy, Rocky Bleier gave it to us,'" Biden said, again to applause.

Steelers' founder Art Rooney Sr. — Dan Rooney's father — sent Bleier to Wilmington "without any fanfare, without any announcement, without anything other than his incredible decency," said Biden, again wiping away tears.

There are two problems with this story.

(1) Rocky Bleier wasn't famous in 1972. He wouldn't become a starter for another 2 years. He gained 17 yards in 1972. His autobiography would not come out until more than 2 years later.

(2) "a couple days before Christmas" in 1972, Rocky Bleier was 300 miles from any Delaware hospital sitting on the bench in Pittsburgh during the Steelers' first ever meaningful playoff game. The playoff game in question was the scene of the "Immaculate Reception," one of the most famous plays in NFL history.

12-23-1972 - Somewhere on the sidelines, Rocky Bleier sits "a couple days before Christmas" in 1972 [instead of driving to Delaware to deliver footballs]

Even if Biden will claim to have been off a little in the date, it is doubtful that the Steelers would dispatch any player for an all-day errand while preparing for their first important playoff game ever.

Even without these problems, this story sounded a little too Edwardsesque.

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