I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at this weeks NFL owners meeting. Not because of the discussions on rule changes or discussion about the CBA. Had I been there, I’m sure that I’d have witnessed a bittersweet moment.
According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette this morning, Dan Rooney, current President and one of the owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers, stepped down from all committees and said goodbye to the NFL ownership. Rooney, in anticipation for his upcoming appointment as Ambassador to Ireland, handed the reigns of the Steelers organization over to his son, Art Rooney, II.
It’s the end of an era for the Steelers, and for the NFL. Rooney had been “influential and involved in league matters for half a century” (1) . The “Rooney Rule” opened the door for minorities to become head coaches within the NFL. For the Steelers organization, Mr. Rooney carried on the tradition that was started by his father, Art Rooney, Sr, in such that made the players feel like family. As a testament to that, when asked in an online chat session at NFL.com, on his induction to the Hall of Fame, former Steelers CB, Rod Woodson sited Dan Rooney as the primary reason that, if he had to choose a team to get inducted under, it would be the Steelers. There has always been an air of mutual respect between players, coaches and ownership.
There’s no doubt that the tradition of the Steelers franchise will continue on with Art Rooney II, and I have no doubt that upon a trip to Ireland in the next few years, we’ll see black and gold being worn there. Still, Mr. Rooney’s presence and influence in the NFL will be missed by players, coaches and fans alike.
Personally, I’d like to thank Mr. Rooney for his dedication and would like to ask, should he find a four leaf clover or capture a leprechaun, to send him my way. Thank you Mr. Rooney, go raibh mile maith agat (2).
1- "Dan Rooney Bids NFL Owners Fairwell" , Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post Gazettte, March 25, 2009
2- go rabh mile maith agat is gaelic for thank you,