“Greatness is Gone”
One of the last of the Old Guard has left the National Football League.
Dan Rooney has passed away, just like he lived and operated, quietly.
The Pittsburgh Steelers iconic leader, son of the team founder, Art “The Chief” Rooney has died at age 84, leaving behind a legacy never likely to be matched ever again.
Rooney took over as Team President in 1987, after sitting at the right hand of his father, who founded and owned the Steelers dating back to 1933.
Dan Rooney led them to greatness, and at the same time guided the NFL in business dealings to greatness too.
Western Pennsylvania, a hotbed of football for ever, was his home, but his shadow, his influence, his touch, spread everywhere.
Rooney hired Chuck Noll, and that move led to a 4-Super Bowl splurge in a 6-year span. He hired Bill Cowher, who continued Steelers success. And then he brought in Mike Tomlin, who brought in another ring.
Rooney led the drive to fund and finance, then build Heinz Field, a jewel of a stadium for the Steelers.
His charitable foundation work stretched everywhere across the Tri-State area.
His influence at the NFL league level was far-reaching. He helped solve 2-bitter player-union work stoppages. He was at the forefront of the new drug testing program. He created the Rooney Rule, forever the catalyst for minority hiring.
And then a dream position after stepping aside from the NFL, ambassador to Ireland on behalf of President Obama.
In an era of NFL ownership, dominated by personalities like Jerry Jones, and entrepreneurs like Robert Kraft, Dan Rooney stands far and above greatness, for not just accomplishments, but also relationships.
He told me in 1995, when I interviewed him the week the Chargers played, then beat the Steelers in the AFC-Championship game….”treat people as you would like to be treated” Respect begets respect.
From a family of nine kids, to ownership of one of the most stable business enterprises in the NFL, Dan Rooney is at the top of the list of class, dignity, loyalty and success.
Greatness gone, but never-ever to be forgotten.