Packers coach Mike McCarthy soon may join Brett Favre, Rocky Bleier, Chuck Noll and Ray Lewis
By Ben Jones, Post-Crescent Madison
~There was a time when streets were routinely named after presidents, trees and numbers.
But that was before the National Football League kept growing in popularity.
A growing number of cities, including Green Bay, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, are renaming streets after professional football players and coaches.
In 2007, Appleton joined the trend, renaming a block of Olde Oneida Street, not far from the downtown, Rocky Bleier Run. Bleier, now 65, grew up in Appleton and starred in football for Xavier High School, the University of Notre Dame and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“There are a lot of people who want to commemorate people who have contributed in a major way to society,” said Frank Nuessel, a modern languages and linguistics professor at the University of Louisville.
Nuessel edits NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics (the study of names), and he tracks new street names. He said naming streets after NFL figures is becoming more common.
The Green Bay metro area, which already has 11 streets named after former Packers players and coaches, may get a 12th.
Since the Packers won Super Bowl XLV this year, Mayor Jim Schmitt has pushed for the city to name a street after the team’s coach, Mike McCarthy. He said the naming would likely happen next year, as he wants to work with McCarthy on the naming, and McCarthy is currently focused on winning another Super Bowl.
“We are going to do something for him that he’s going to be happy with, and this community will be happy with,” Schmitt said. “There’s a lot more to Green Bay than the Packers, but boy, the Packers are a significant part of who we are.”
Rocky Bleier Run
In Appleton, the honor went to a man who made the Steelers’ starting lineup in 1974 after he was wounded in action while serving with the Army in Vietnam. Bleier received the Purple Heart, but recovered and went on to play in Pittsburgh’s first four Super Bowl victories. He retired from the NFL in 1980.
“It’s a huge story on how he came back from adversity,” said Bruce Roskom, Appleton’s planning supervisor.
Rocky Bleier Run goes northwest from the intersection of Olde Oneida Street and Water Street.
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