Standing on the driveway, Bleier reminds Paul of the great backboard and hoop that hung over the Rechner family driveway years ago.
"Rock," says Paul, pointing to the basket in front of them, "this is the same backboard. I torched it off at my parents' house. My brother got it for his 16th birthday. It's 27 years old, Rock."
Bleier smiles at the news.
He stands in front of the trophy cases at Xavier High and looks at the large black-and-white photo of the 1963 basketball team, the Wisconsin Catholic Independent Athletic Association state champions. No. 34 is himself, 23 years earlier.
A large man with glasses approaches. "Hi, I'm Don Dineen, the head football coach," he says.
"I'm Rocky Bleier."
"Oh, hi." It is clear the coach did not recognize Appleton's greatest athlete, but he recovers quickly. "Normally, we have your case all alone down here, but, uh, the girls' basketball team did well this year, and they sort of took it over."
Rocky moves down to the last glass case, and through the draped girls' warm-ups and trophies sees a plaque that reads: ROCKY'S HISTORIC RUN AGAINST PREMONTRE IN HIS SOPHOMORE YEAR. Etched on the plaque is a photo of Bleier tiptoeing into the end zone in front of shocked fans. Below that the inscription reads:
ROBERT "ROCKY" BLEIER
ALL CONFERENCE THREE YEARS FOOTBALL
ALL STATE TWO YEARS
SCORED AT LEAST ONE TD IN EVERY VARSITY GAME HE PLAYED
OVER 1,000 YARDS LAST TWO YEARS
ALL CONFERENCE BASKETBALL TWO YEARS
TOP POINT GETTER TRACK SENIOR YEAR
PLAYED FIRST TRUMPET IN BAND
MEMBER NATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY
FULL FOUR-YEAR SCHOLARSHIP TO NOTRE DAME
Below that is Bleier's bronzed left shoe, the one that stepped in for the TD that iced the win over the hated Premontre Cadets.