Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney dies at 84

Jessica Allison
April 14, 2017

Pittsburgh Steelers' chairman Dan Rooney died earlier this afternoon. Uncharacteristically, he missed the league's annual meeting in Phoenix in late March. He is the father of the 'Rooney Rule, ' which has meant so much to minorities working in, and wanting to work in, the NFL.

Under Rooney's direction, the Steelers enjoyed a golden era starting in 1975 with the first of four Super Bowl wins in six years. The policy requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for its head coaching opening, but it does not apply to assistants, and it has on many occasions led to "token" interviews created to meet the criteria before a favored white candidate could be hired.

"As someone who's privileged to work in the National Football League, my honest condolences go out to the Rooney family, Mike Tomlin and everyone else at the Steelers who knew Mr. Rooney".

"My father [Art] would take me to the training camp - and I went to the training camp before I was 5 years old", Rooney once recalled. Rooney and his son, Art II, later hired Mike Tomlin as the first black head coach in Steelers history. Rooney spearheaded the team's commitment to continuity and stability.

Dan Rooney oversaw considerable success for the Steelers and o ver the decades he became one of the most powerful and innovative forces within the game.

Like other second- and third-generation owners, including John Mara of the New York Giants and Michael Bidwill of the Arizona Cardinals, Rooney's primary concern was the health of his team and the league, not an outside business. Rooney also served as USA ambassador to Ireland from 2009-12.

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Why Rooney? As so many of his players said through the years, he saw no color, only talent.

Rooney was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

Rooney was such a fixture in the Steel City that he regularly walked to home games.

Rooney's influence even reached beyond football.

Rooney was born July 20, 1932, in Pittsburgh, to Art Rooney Sr., who founded the Steelers the following year. The rule was established after the 2002 season, which ended with two African American coaches, Tony Dungy and Dennis Green, getting fired despite successful tenures with their respective teams. "You motivated me not only to excel on the field but also in life".

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